We’ve caught up with Matteo Sedazzari, author of ‘A Crafty Cigarette: Tales Of A Teenage Mod’ and asked him six quick questions.
EP: We’ve recently read and reviewed ‘A Crafty Cigarette: Tales Of A Teenage Mod’ – to what extent would you consider the book to be autobiographical – for instance, is the Bruce Foxton episode entirely from your imagination, or was it based on real-life events? Is anything based on things that really happened?
MS: The Bruce Foxton episode is entirely from my imagination, I wanted to add humour as growing up overall is an amusing adventure, adulthood is as well of course. The emotions, the structure and the dates of the book are real life, a kid discovers The Jam, moves to Walton, makes new friends. Yet most of episodes and sub plots, like my father working for Charlie Cairoli are fictional, a true account would be far too self-indulgent.
EP: Your protagonist has no name – what’s the reasoning behind that?
MS: Purely by accident, I had drafted the first three chapters, hadn’t named the central character, just wanted to get the story down and come back to it. When I was doing a read through I liked the concept, as I felt, and it has worked, it draws the reader straight into the journey and the adventure, seeing through the protagonist’s eye, a literary virtual reality if you like.
EP: You didn’t go into music yourself – has that been a life-long regret, or do you think you’ve chosen the right path for your life? What’s next for Matteo!
MS: No, because it wasn’t meant to be, of all the musicians I worked with, none of them were as focused and committed as me. They liked the idea of making it, but had to find time between going out and work. Not one of them has forged a career in music or even pursued anything original, one or two are in cover pub bands, oh well, fair enough.
I know this sounds arrogant, but none of them had the drive that I did and still have. I believe some people, not all, have made a few failures or wrong choices before they find what is right for them, and that is the case for me. But someone like Paul Weller or John Lennon knew what they wanted at an early age, I am a late bloomer, but it is nice to eventually find the right thing for me.
Working on my second novel, a collection of short stories spanning the sixties to present day set around South West London, from comedy to crime, gritty.
Started ZANI Books, have a second novel out with Dean Cavanagh, screenwriter partner of Irvine Welsh. Dean has written a fucking masterpiece, if The Monkees film ‘Head’ was a novel then it would be this. It’s called ‘The Secret Life of The Novel’, so I’m marketing that. More books to come out.
Will carry on with my website www.zani.co.uk…enjoying life….
EP: Who’s been the most memorable person, who’s had the most impact on your life, that you’ve met/interviewed?
MS: I have interviewed a lot of people, Peter Tork of The Monkees to Bobby Womack. Alan McGee made an impact, supported me and often gave me a lot of advice during the early days of ZANI. Chas Smash aka Carl Smyth of Madness, had some good chats. Great to speak to Paul Weller and Rick Buckler of The Jam. John Cooper Clarke, did the foreword for ‘A Crafty Cigarette’, and have had real in-depth chats about music, writing, football and life, he has become mentor and good friend. Recently interviewed bestselling author Martina Cole who has become a huge source of inspiration for my next novel, Martina has been very supportive, nice, beautiful and intelligent woman, self-made, authentic with a big heart.
It would wrong to say just one, because I am truly blessed to get their support and, in some cases, their friendship.
EP: Surrey seems to have been a bit of a Mod hotbed in the late 70s and 80s. Can you pinpoint any reasons why that might be?
MS: Wasn’t just Surrey, but the whole of Great Britain, back then I was living it, not analysing it. As the Mod Folklore goes, the scene grew in February 1979 Paris at a Jam gig. A friend of mine, who I didn’t know back then, Grant Fleming, a huge original Jam fan and an East London lad, printed some flyers for The Jam’s gig in Paris, handed them out, calling it the Mod Pilgrimage. Thinking only the East London Mods would go, and was surprised to see Mods from other parts of the old smoke at the City of Lights to see the Woking Wonders, realising they weren’t alone, it grew from there.
Became nationwide in August 1979, with The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ hitting the cinemas across the UK, with snotty nosed kids coming out wanting to be Mods. The Jam were on the up, the Two Tone scene was taking off. New Mod bands from the ashes, from punk, were emerging, like The Chords, Secret Affair, The Purple Hearts playing in venues not usually associated with live music, such as The Wellington at Waterloo Station, and The Bridge House in Canning Town. This powerful movement grew and slipped into the suburbs, where teenagers and kids, I wasn’t even 13, got into to it. Yet I didn’t know this at the time, just enjoying it. Only years later found out how it all came about.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
MS: All the interviews from independent online magazines and radio stations have been good as the interviewers have read the book. Therefore, as a reader, they are naturally inquisitive which I like as the questions evolve more into a discussion.
Perhaps what I would like to have emphasised is that whilst writing ‘A Crafty Cigarette’, I started to discover new writers and rediscovered classics. Examples Harlan Ellison, ‘Memos from Purgatory’, a book he wrote at 19, no publishing deal, just went undercover in New York’s Hell Kitchen to write a piece about the gangs, Terry Taylor Baron’s ‘Court All Change’, his factual account of the Jazz scene in late 50s London, reading Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, I mean really reading it. That was an amazing journey, life changing in fact as I was an avid reader before writing my novel, now they are so important to me.
Perhaps discussing that being creative isn’t about being a tortured artist, that is it gives you fulfilment and a tremendous amount of self belief, in fact being creative is a truly authentic positive thing and you truly find yourself.
Maybe the state of independent publishing versus mainstream publishing, yet I suppose as my career grows with a stronger body of work the interviews will be more in depth.
I am just grateful that people have taken time to talk to me and help me to promote the book.