Stuart David at Aye Write, 2018 review by Pat Byrne
Stuart David, Peacock’s Alibi
Aye Write, 15 March, 2018, University of Glasgow
‘Peacock Johnson’s got an idea that’s guaranteed to make him rich, and a friend who’s willing to invset in the idea. But he’s having some difficulty laying the grounork for his less-than-legal enterprise.’
I very much enjoyed my first event at Aye Write 2018 and was delighted to be introduced to Peacock Johnson – the main character in Stuart David’s book Peacock’s Alibi (published by Polygon, March 2018)
Unusually, Peacock’s Alibi has a dual focus, on crime and comedy. The event included much hilarity and the conversation between Alistair Braidwood of Scots Whay Hae!, who hosted the event, and the author was highly entertaining.
Alistair explained that Peacock is a criminal who would rather be a successful ideas man and Stuart concurred with this description pointing out that ‘his ideas were usually rubbish.’
It’s fair to say that Stuart has considerable affinity with his character, who has appeared in previous books. Peacock Johnson first made his appearance in a book by another author – Ian Rankin introduced the character in his book ‘Question of Blood’. This was after Stuart (in the guise of Peacock) won a competition to appear in a Rankin novel.
Much to the amusement of the audience, Stuart described how, in one of his short pieces ‘Peacock’s Tales’, Peacock had been very unhappy about how he was protrayed when his character appeared in an episode of the Rebus television series. Stuart entertained us by reading some of his short pieces about Peacock and his ill fated plans. (You can find some of these on Peacock Johnson’s own twitter account.)
Appearance is of tremendous importance to the ‘flamboyant’ Peacock Johnson, who has an impressive moustache and a love for Hawaiain shirts. When he became annoyed by a workmate who aped his style he took to buying ‘high priced designer clobber’, which his pal could not afford. Of course, neither could Peacock and his addiction to high fashion was to prove problematic.
Stuart explained that sometimes he fully embraced the character by disguising himself as Peacock. Very successfully it would appear as on one occasion even his mum and dad didn’t recognise him. He also caused some confusion when he turned up for a television interview as Peacock and after some delay he realised that they were waiting for Stuart David to arrive.
The writer definitely has a strong sense of the comedic but he takes the art of writing very seriously studying form and explaining how he spent years exploring the history of comedy.
Alistair asked him about the other characters in the book and he described the detective Duncan McFadgen, Peacock’s nemesis, ‘who has it in for him’ and ‘who thinks that Peacock has moved up the criminal ranks at the same rate as McFadgen has progressed in his career.’
We also heard about Peacock’s mother-in-law, who puts him down at every turn and his wife, the voluble Bev – ‘monologues flood out of her’.
The characters appear very vibrant and engaging but plot is of immense importance to Stuart and he doesn’t start writing until he has mulled this over for some time and has a definite idea where the story is going.
There was discussion about how, over the last ten years or so, crime novels had grown in importance in Scottish fiction. It could be argued that the hapless nature of Peacock’s criiminality and Stuart’s aim to capture Scottish traits of humour and friendlieness bring his own particular flavour to the Tartan Noir genre.
In summing up his writing he describes it as ‘How Wodehouse would write if he was working class and Scottish’.
Pat Byrne, March, 2018
Stuart David, as well as being a writer, is also well known as a musician and songwriter. He co-founded and played bass in the band Belle and Sebastion and has his own band Looper.
Looper will soon to celebrate their 20th anniversary with the release of an acoustic album with songs from their back catalogue.
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- Bernard Maclaverty Creative Conversations
- Creative Conversations, University of Glasgow
- Autumn Creative Writing Courses – Dr Tawnya Selene Renelle
- Magi Gibson – Audacious Women Festival
- Walking and Writing in the Botanics with Gerry Loose
- Walking and Writing with Lesley O’Brien, Glasgow Green
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- Book Festival – Govanhill International Festival 2021
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- Govanhill International Festival 2021
- Scribblers Union Digital Gig Series
- Bloody Scotland – Crime Debut of the Year 2021
- Brian Whittingham – Writing Walks in Kelvingrove
- Three Lockdown Poets at Avant Garde
- Independent Bookshop Week 2021
- Tell it slant, Glasgow: Book Launch: A Bird Is Not A Stone.