Interview with Robin Cook aka Derek Raymond

Found - loosely inserted in a copy of his novel A State of Denmark this typescript of an interview with Robin Cook aka Derek Raymond. At one point he says he is 60 which dates it at 1991. It does not appear to have been published. Many of the typos have been cleared up. It was probably transcribed from a tape recorded in a noisy pub with a break in a Chinese restaurant and back to the pub. Robin Cook, cult novelist and author of The Crust on Its Uppers was also known as Derek Raymond. He had to change his name as it was the same as the best selling author of schlock medical thrillers (Coma etc.,).

Dead man upright. Chap still walking around who really oughtnt to be.
Bit like your nameless policeman.
Yea, lots of policemmen like that esp the busted ones. All driving minicabs. What can you do after being a bent policeman? and you know London well what can you do next/
Dont do research with police. Had lunch once . Id rather do it from imagination. Better relations with French police. How to beat people up with a telephone book.
Known a lot of busted ones in my time, disciplinary reasons, sex casess, bisexual ones.
Back in West Hampstead. Been there a year until I finish the book.
Memoirs out next month
BBC series. Kenneth Trodd. Scriptwriter is a man called William Golding. The man in charge is Kenneth Trodd. First met him years agao back in 1962 when he wanted to make a film of Crust on its Uppers, used to have endless talks. He did singing tec with Dennis Potter. So its in as good hands as it could be. Three 50min episodes, they will draw on all 4 books.
Tom Bell, I thought of him but he's involved with Prime Suspect. But Im no casting director. I can draw on my imagination, but not in flesh.
Prawn, Oh yes definitely, Beef? mmm and a beer Dumplings, very good. Tsing Tao beer please.
Paces himself.
Gerry and the Pacemakers. Freddie and the Dreamers Thirty years on . Sounds like me. 30 years on and still touring. Second on the bill at Penge. Fame at last.
Cardinal and Corpse. Terriffic. Very Funny. Alexander Baron still alive amazing isnt it. and Livitnoff. Used to know his brother. Managed to kill himself, just before he got murdered. As the French put it, he lost his pedals in a serious manner. Great bicycling nation, tour de France etc.
Tony Lambrianou, oh yeah great sense of humour. Kray putting a midget on his knee. Yes thats the one thats in Broadmoor. Terrific sense of humour. I said. You can say that again.
Lambrianou used to make me turn pale. Hitman for the Krays. Done finally for transporting the corpse. Did 15 years. Couldnt pin anything on him. Knew him from the old Chelsea days. Krays had Esmeraldas Barn in those days.
Great to meet Martin Stone, what a turnup. Great musician. And someone called Almost Presley. Don't know who that is.
I think it should wake up C4 a bit.
English female tec writers, They've never done it you see. Its all to do with poisened cocoa and stuff.
Nobody minds them writing it of course, but its just hogging the stage at the moment. And Eng publishrers like it cos its all terribly middle class and cosy. US thrillers are so much more accurate about violence. Its not that we cant do it, we just get little encouragement. Serie Noir. Ive done much better than that Im with Rivage now, they are the best. Ellroy is with Rivage, seriously mad. Saw his mother murdered, aged 14. That's why he always writing about that Dahlia case, the woman sawed in half. True Confessions. Case was never solved as far as I know. Some chap is writing the script for the Chabrol now.
Into the Badlands by John Williams. Welsh journo interviewed various crime writers. Didnt impose his own views. Hate that about YTV interviews they are so self important.
I got very well known in France. As Robin Cook. Only country where I am. Because of Coma. And I dont want to be mistaken for the shadow minister of health either.
I mean I was here first.
I had a bit of an identity crisis to begin with. My writing changed because I stoopped for 7 or 8 years. I was working on the land. Very tough 10 years a day. Kept me in shape. But you'd be amazed how you can do it. I had a sit down job for all those years, plus geting pissed in bars. Just so worn out, crawling back in the evening. In my forties.
Someone in the village said to me, at 48 you are just going to end up a day labourer. I snapped back, speak for yourself. the french are like that, so bloody rude, thats why I get on with them. Rude to each other. That remark HIT ME WHERE I LIVED.
So I began writing again to see if I could still do it. I think my writing has improved. Greater clarity and different focus.
On something nasty.
Write in English only. Speak good french, but I would never get the constructions right. Beckett was Irish to start with. Would take me five times longer. Can do a letter but not a book in Fr. In speech you can always skid round could or would.
I'm a chain smoker. Smoke during meals. So bored with all this politically correct stuff. Very dangerous tendency. Quite fascistic don't you think?
Do just ask anything won't you. Just leave it to me, Im a one man chat show.
Got a 20 year old daughter. Got another one, but never met her. She was born in London. But raised in France, so bi-lingual. Goes back and forth like I do. Mother lives just around the corner from me. Handy. She liked the film. Thats what dialogue is like, she said, sharpen up yours.
Andrew (surely Iain??) Sinclair is a lovely man. Got Whitechapel, and Downriver, my trouble is while Im writing I can't read, gets in the way.
Veronica Hull. Fascinated. Monkey Puzzle the only one she ever published. Caused a scandal. First time the lid had been taken off London Univ. It was Freddie Ayer. I had Stuart Hampshire, but Ayer was wicked in that respect. She had one nervous breakdown after another. Still going. Maureen Duffy used to be my landlady. We were on a Brit Council bash in Berlin the other day, I asked if I was up to date with my rent. Hull was getting married during the book, but came unstuck. I met her...Real socialist, in the CND march in early 60s Canon Collins, charged by horses up against railings. Trouble is she had a brain like a bandsaw. I lived with her for 2 years. She used to say I had a brain but couldnt use it. I was one of the few survivors.
Talented writing consigned to an underclass, because it didnt fit into the canon.
That my fellow is beginning to change. And anything I can do to give it a shove, anything I can do to tell the truth, Im 61 now, and dont need to earn my living. The first person to ask you for change in the street is more interesting than so much of Eng lit at the moment. Hidden Files rambles a bit. All that stuff with The Black Novel. I feel like saying like George Orwell, if you are bored by politics then skip the next chapter (Homage to Catalonia). Celine, admire him very much. Hysterical reaction to his antisemitism, Remarkable stuff. Old Ellroy is a bit of a fascist, but hes a genuine writer unlike David Irving.
You couldnt write the books I write unless you have been violently tempted to kill someone. Which I most certainly have in the past. I say that in the hidden files.
What prevents you?
Well some moral sense, which says to me, well, you really mustnt do that Cookey, thats wrong.
My tec has a strong moral senses, but a very bad temper too. Ive calmed down considerabley, just an old fuddy duddy now thank god. But you have to analyse the state of the killer, then you can write about him.
In my new book they catch the killer half way thru. Its all under the aegis of a psychiatrist from then, getting down to the motives, what it is that makes a serial killer tick. Or not tick.
Couldnt read Dora Suarez? You're not alone. Dont worry. But I refused to pretty it up. I am sick to death of murder being treated in an Agatha Christie way. It aint. Its barbarous, horrible business.

Black Lizrd.The only clean T shirt I could find. All the rest in the wash.
Met Max in Cattolica in 88. Poured out my woes.

South London. You from there? Gatwick Airport. Well, not all that far. Right side of the river at any rate.

Only writer in family. Complete one off. WHAT AM I DOING HERE. I WONT STAY LONG. Eton. Horrid place. Only perosn who hated it as much as me was Orwell. Most people like it because theyve been programmed to. I just thought I would go mad. I had to get out. And doing your own thing in those days wasnt quite THE THING. 15 when the war ended. It was all very conformist. The War stopped everything. The late 40s and fifties were just like the 30s. Everyone went on listening to the same music, wearing the same clothes. Except ABROAD. So I thought...ABROAD that was the answer. The germans had been all over it of course, but at least things had changed. Everything here was , like being up against a brick wall/. Got back in 1960 when I was 30 and everything was changed. I was just ten years behind. Working for Charlie Da Silva, running a property company. Now Film of Devils Home on Leave. Transposed to France. Belfast angle lost. Very sad.
No money out of the minister of fun now. Carry On film maybe.

Family. Nothing but jumped up peasants. We were 19th century Essex Man thats all. 1820 instead of 1990, went to London with 50 quid in pocket and made 3 and half million. Worth a few bob in those days.
Forgers. they are either very clever men or very stupid. Stupid ones in the nick. They are all master printers. Once youve Rush hour at Victoria station. Gambling too. Parents had a factory producing bank note money for the empire. Hard to come by. Too dangerous a biz really. Complicated to get off the ground.
Car theft.
I did a lot of motors . Smuggling from Gibralter to Spain. Resell them there for 200 per cent of profit. No tax in Gib. Nice little earner. I did nine of them, big flashy Fords mostly. Did a few Mercedes, but no point really, 2 Bentleys, a merc, Spanish werent making cars, at a premium. Any trouble at frontier, I had a phone numbert from my future father in law, a high up member of the...      tell the customs officer to call this number. Kept arriving at tea time, in a diff car, he got this number, its your responsibility. He decided not to. Wise move I said. Military Governor.
Pictures. Just check with the barman at the Coach and Horses. Bacon - met him in Tangier, he was after boys, I was after women. Did some notes for Bruce Bernard, turned into a story. Cant say I knew him well. Slid past each other tangentially.

Dom Moraes. Still alive? Henrietta, absolute knockout. Johnny Minton. Alan Ross.
I snatched a girlfriend off Bernard Gutteridge once.
Which number was that
Number 4. Shouldnt have done it really. Where was I, cheers, oh Bacon thats right. Dan Farson, very nice writer. Watermans Arms, good god that was a pub that was sheer mania land. Negley was his father. Far as I know, Dan drinks literally anything. (I do think that if you mix spirits with beer, chasers, it gets you pissed very quick.)
Always been a drinker. O God Yes. My generation. Id go on the wagon, but Im 60 now whats the point. I had a prob with liver, had to give up for 6 months. Your liver isnt a prob, its a catastropher. Cost me 98 quid to tell me Id got 5 years to live. I dont drink spirits any more, gins the worst. Just beer and wine.
The tricky thing about the liver is that it doesnt hurt, doesnt let you know when its in distress. But it does cure itself. I turned white like that table cloth. Five years. Wont get me bus pass.
Just got back from Afganistan, medecin sans frontiere, haven't seen anything quite as bad on the battlefields.

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