The novel is a clash of American mythology with contemporary British reality. Jack Maertens and Neil Blake are tired of life on London's Holloway Road and set out north in search of meaning and freedom. Along the way they listen to a scratchy old cassette recording of Jack Kerouac's Beat classic On the Road, and find their journey consciously and unconsciously mirroring that of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. They discover, however, that the horizons of 2008 Britain are considerably more limited than those of 1950s America, and their attempts to lead a spontaneous life are dogged at every turn by speed cameras, policemen and CCTV.
Andrew gives an overview of the book:
I first met Neil not long after my father died. I was living in a big old red-brick Victorian semi in north London with my mother and her vicious cat Sparky, trying and failing to finish a long, learned novel packed tight with the obscure literary allusions and authentic multicultural credentials that the publishers loved in those days, when out of nowhere Neil rode into town, all bravado and muscles and shaved head and mad, staring eyes. He was still just a boy, really, but a boy with an ASBO at fourteen, a caution at fifteen, a spell in junior detention centre at sixteen and a boy of his own by seventeen. He was a boy who was wild and dangerous and soft-hearted, a boy who read Nietzsche one minute and manga the next, a boy who wanted to learn everything, see everything, do everything, a boy who wanted to live more badly than anyone else I knew at that time. Compared to my own sad, shambling existence in the shadows of life, his was a kaleidoscope. I peeped from behind my mother’s curtains at the world outside and wrote about people like Neil. I never believed that he really existed until I met him.
Andrew Blackman is 32 years old and lives in north London. His first novel, "On the Holloway Road", was published by Legend Press in February 2009. The book has won the Luke Bitmead Writer's Bursary and the Novel Beginnings First Chapter Contest, and has been...