Jerry Sykes came to my attention when he won the CWA Short Story Dagger a few
years ago. Although he was known before this for his work in Shots’ predecessor;
A Shot in the Dark, plus contributions to a slew of anthologies. When I
discovered news of his debut novel ‘Lose this Skin’, I asked Jerry to tell
Shots’ readers a little about the novel.
first became aware of Camden Lock in the late 70s when The Clash had their
rehearsal space there in an abandoned railway arch. Stranded in rural Yorkshire
my friends and I would often talk long into the night about what a magical place
the Lock must be to inspire such heroic music. But by the time I finally came to
visit the Lock in the early 80s The Clash had long since gone and the area had
taken its first tentative steps towards becoming some kind of Disneyland for the
casually disenfranchised. Twenty years later the transformation is complete.
Every weekend the Lock is flooded with thousands of tourists from all over the
world in search of a little pocket hedonism and rebellion-by-proxy. Even the
drug dealers who whisper at you from every corner seem to have come straight
from central casting.
Behind all this seemingly harmless fun however something far more sinister
lurks. Camden Town has one of the biggest drugs problems in the country. But in
a world that pays Kate Moss ten times more than she was being paid before the
tabloids dubbed her Cocaine Kate it is hard not to believe that the authorities
are turning a blind eye in order to keep the tourist dollars rolling in.
This is all pure speculation of course but it was this idea that inspired me to
write Lose this Skin. After publishing some two dozen short stories over
the last few years - and winning two CWA Short Story Daggers in the process -
here at last was something I felt I could get my debut novelistic teeth stuck
As a reader I have always been drawn to the loner but at the same time have
never felt totally comfortable with the idea of a British PI. So when it came to
creating my own leading man I felt that I needed a good reason for him to be
acting alone. Eventually I came up with the idea of a cop on sick leave after
being shot in a drive-by shooting with the shooter still out there in the
night... He is finally pulled away from his own brooding when an old friend asks
him to look into the death of her son. The boy had been killed under the wheels
of a police car and the official line is that it was an accident but his mother