John Wheatcroft has spent most of his working life as a journalist on newspapers in Lancashire and Yorkshire, with a few forays into teaching in adult education. His first novel, Here in the Cull Valley, appeared originally via Kindle. Although reviews were good, readers could not agree about his view of the north of England. Someone described it as “a love letter to West Yorkshire” but one reader suggested that the picture of an area in post-Thatcher decline made it a “fascinating social document”. In the week of publication, it was number one in a Yorkshire Post Top 5 Pick of the Best Books
John says: “I’m interested in characters who are on the point of a crisis in their life. Memory is an important theme, as well as the light that self-knowledge – or the lack of it – casts on how people view the past.”
John has now completed his second novel, Rocket Boy, in which the main character, as a three-year-old, meets Yuri Gagarin. It is a lighter and, ultimately, happier story than Cull Valley: “Penny Lane rather than Strawberry Fields Forever,” he says modestly. “Both these books feature, I think, interesting women and I’d like to do a novel one day with a female protagonist.”
A few years ago John did an MA in British Cinema at Hull University (where he had read English Literature during the 1970s) just for the sheer fun of it. It included a dissertation on the Scottish film director Bill Forsyth, best known for Gregory’s Girl and Local Hero but whose adaptation of Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson is one of the best ever transitions from book to film. He adds: “My interest in cinema is reflected in my writing – in Here in the Cull Valley, the main character imagines, in extremis, a film treatment of his story.”
John Wheatcroft, who is originally from Manchester, has lived in York with his wife, Kay, for 30 years.
Stephen Lewis (York Press):
‘The fictional news reports and features are a particular joy, capturing to a tee the fake gossipy sentimentality of a certain type of newspaper feature and the bland clichés of some news reports.’
Ron Godfrey (Argus, Brighton):
Wheatcroft, himself a journalist of huge experience on Northern newspapers, proves the point that if reporters can't tell the whole story, then as an author he can - and with powerful humour, invention, perception and poignancy.