Bio

THE REAL McCOY

email:   ken@kenmccoy.co.uk             

CRIME BOOKS & SAGAS

 

I’d never heard of Ken McCoy but now I want to read everything else he’s written ...The best thing about this enjoyable book is the sharpness of the writing and the dry humour, which adds to the pace of the plot. It is no surprise that Ken McCoy can add after dinner entertainment to his list of activities. If he speaks as well as he writes he’ll wow them on the conference panels.
SHERLOCK MAGAZINE  on MAD CAREW

2I’m a Yorkshire builder who’s had a few books published, well 14 altogether. Went into the industry when I left school at 16; started my own construction business at 26. I suppose you could say I’m an accidental writer insofar as I began writing by accident, and it wasn’t even my accident, it was my wife’s. She’s always been a tower of strength to me. One day she went into hospital, sound in wind and limb, and came out with a broken leg. It’s actually not a bad place to break your leg, the service is quite good. She was coming out of a door and fell down a step that shouldn’t have been there. I knew it shouldn’t have been there. With me being a builder I knew most of the building regulations. Had I built that illegal step I’d have been taken to the cleaners by the owner of the broken leg. Never got away with anything, me. Anyway, I pointed out the illegality of the step to the hospital and eventually they paid her damages. Not too many people would have twigged that the step was illegal and my tower of strength showed her gratitude by buying me a computer. This was back in December 1996. I had no idea how to use a computer but was instantly impressed by Microsoft Word.

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Right now, apart from my 14 published books I’ve got a crime novel, GOOD LUCK BAD TEMPER which is coming out as an ebook, priced at £4.40 or $6.99. It’ll be in Amazon’s Kindle Store and Apple’s iBookstore by early September 2010.
      The Amazon Kindle reading device has come down in price and gone up in quality by leaps and bounds over the last few years. It’s now priced at £109. It can store up to 3,500 books and is amazingly convenient and readable.  Like most authors I was very sceptical about it when ebooks first came out but have come round to thinking that ebook sales might well surpass hard-copy books before much longer.

To buy GOOD LUCK BAD TEMPER click here:

Take a look at the bottom of these pages to find out more about this book.

 

Tripper is one of the best private eye stories I’ve read in a long time; it’s fast paced with a great cast of strong characters, a generous a mount of wit and murder aplenty. It’s The Real McCoy.
YORKSHIRE EVENING PRESS (Simon Richie) on TRIPPER

Like many people I’d always dabbled with writing but it never occurred to me to embark on a whole book.  I couldn’t type, so to scribble 100,000 illegible words in long hand was never going to be the best use of my time. I had too many other things on the go. Microsoft Word changed all that. To me it was a thing of great magic, still is. By March of 1997 I’d written a book called The Fabulous Fox Twins. It would turn out to be my fourth published book. It got me a literary agent who told me I could write and persuaded me to write sagas to get me started. I’ve since turned to crime but I do have another saga on the go. Three other books would precede Fox Twins into the book shops: Cobblestone Heroes, published by Piatkus in 1999, Hope Street in 2000 and Annie’s Legacy, which was WH Smiths saga of the month in October 2001. In 2002 I had three books published: The Fabulous Fox Twins, Catch a Falling Star and Two Rings for Rosie ...

Many a reader will be able to relate to the hard times that brought out the good and bad in people. The vivid and descriptive characters make this compelling reading. Once again an excellent book by Ken McCoy who was born and still lives in Leeds.
YORKSHIRE EVENING PRESS (Georgina Haywood) on TWO RINGS FOR ROSIE

Like I said I’ve done other things in my time; after dinner speaking for one, still do that — just  another name for posh, stand-up comedy. I’ve done a few theatres, worked with Roy Hudd doing the Good Old days at Leeds City Varieties. Odd bits of telly. I once got three lines as Lady Tara’s butler in Emmerdale. I’m also quite a good artist and I’ve done greeting card designs for most of the major publishers. In fact my large print  publishers, Magna, asked me to do a couple of my own book covers for the large print and audio versions of Annie’s Legacy and The Fabulous Fox Twins. Not only that but the excellent Diane Allen at Magna asked me to utilise my “acting” talent and do the reading on my audio books. 13 of my 14 books are so far out in audio and I’ve done the reading on 12 of them. In a couple of weeks I’ll be in a recording studio working on the 14th. It’ll take me about three days.
We all found this story to be a laugh a minute and was addictive listening. The author’s role as a stand-up comic shone through. We’d love to read other books by him.
   ACKROYD LIBRARIES READER’S GROUP on  MAD CAREW audio

 

British author Ken McCoy is a man of many talents. His heavy British accent (What?) is perfect for the many characters. He’s got his voices down pat and his tempo is that of an experienced narrator.
           AUDIOFILE BOOK REVIEW (U.S.) on LOSER audio

 I must admit that during all the time I’ve been writing I haven’t done much building, well, none actually. I suppose I must have retired at some stage without realising. You can’t do everything, although I must admit I’ve had a good try. My wife keeps wondering why we’re not stinking rich, which is a bit of a poser — not being rich after doing all this stuff. Not sure myself but it’ll be my fault, it usually is. One thing I do know is that being a good writer is by no means a guarantee of becoming a best seller. Writers really need good marketing, but my books always had to speak for themselves. I got some lovely reviews, never a bad one, never even a mediocre one, but I never got reviewed in the nationals.

Must tell you this. The nearest my books got to the nationals was me being an answer to a quiz question in The Sun in 2003. The quiz was called The Name Game. They gave you clues that lead to a famous name:

Question 1:  Ken, who wrote Two Rings for Rosie and Hope Street.
Question 2: James, the Hollywood legend who starred in It’s A Wonderful Life and Rear Window. So, there you have it! McCoy up there with James Stewart. I think they had a roll-over that day with no one getting all the questions right.

Digressing now, but talking of Hollywood legends I once worked on a Christmas special of Last of the Summer Wine where George Chakiris, an avowed Ken McCoy fan, (obviously)  was playing a cameo role as a hussar in a circus. I played the prat in the hat (below left)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George is the one who got an Oscar for his part in West Side Story. I’m the one who didn’t. Had a nice chat with him about our respective show biz careers. Couldn’t believe he’d never heard of me. Where’s he been? Has he never called in the East Leeds Labour Club? I don’t actually have a photo of me and Jimmy Stewart (see how I get to call him Jimmy?) but I do have one of me on location with the Last Of The Summer Wine ladies, with whom I got on very well indeed — with them all being Ken McCoy fans, especially the smashing DameThora Hird whose favourite was Jacky Boy. The delectable Nora Batty preferred Cleopatra Kelly.

Hey, if you think I’m name dropping don’t hesitate to tell me.

The photo on the left is of Roy Hudd and me waiting backstage to do our bit on The Good Old Days at the Leeds City Varieties which is currently undergoing a massive and well-deserved re-furbishment.

 

 

 

People email me and write to me. Over the years I’ve had hundreds of them. Lovely letters. Telling me how much they enjoy my books. Some telling me how much they enjoy listening to me reading my books. Every year over 100,000 people borrow my books from British libraries.

Dear Ken, I just had to write to congratulate you. I was given your book Hammerhead as a present.  I used to read quite a lot but have not done so for years. I started to read your book and I couldn’t put it down.  The plot and dialogue had me enthralled from the first page until the last.  I have since been and got all the other books in the Sam Carew series and cannot wait to start reading them even though the first book I read was out of sequence. Please keep up the brilliant work and more books in this series would be most welcome. Michael Hill.

Ken McCoy writes in a very gripping style and the pages of this fairly long book just zoom by. It is so entertaining you just don't want it to end, but end it must and it does so in a classic resolution that kept me guessing.
EUROCRIME on HAMMERHEAD (Eurocrime favourite read 2007)

I once worked out that in any minute of any day there are between three and four thousand people currently reading or listening to one of my books. Makes you think, doesn’t it? In fact I could go further: I started out in business as a road and sewer contractor then went on to house building. So, there are several hundred people living in houses I’ve built, thousands of people driving up and down roads I’ve built, and don’t get me started about the sewers. I’ve painted and drawn pictures that still hang on walls and I’ve raised the odd laugh at my after-dinner and stage acts. They send me letters as well...

Dear Ken, Thank you so much for last Friday night. Although it took longer to get you on than I had hoped you were more than worth the wait. You are unquestionably the best golf club speaker I have encountered by some considerable margin. You judged the mood of the evening and of the attendees perfectly and your delivery, wit and charm had them eating out of your hand. I have received so many compliments from those attending and every single one has had nothing but fulsome praise for your performance. Hardened old golfers, of which we have a number, have told me how they cannot remember a better after dinner speech... You were terrific.
Clive Richards. 2009 Captain: Hebden Bridge Golf Club

Writers tend to get together from time to time and it gives us a chance to meet our own favourites. A long time favourite of mine is David Nobbs (left), creator of Reginald Perrin and Pratt of the Argus. Henry Pratt is one of my favourite literary comic characters. I met David at an author’s lunch in Harrogate and had a chat about how he creates his works of comic genius. I did mention my own work of comic genius to him — my Mad Carew series. It’s not actually supposed to be funny, but I do find it a struggle to keep the comedy out of my work.
On the other side of the coin are the truly grisly crime writers, most of whom are women, and the queen of these is American crime writer, the great Tess Gerritsen (left). I’ve met Tess a few times. She used to be a doctor and has an unhealthy knowledge of pathology, with which she shocks the reader. She told me over a few drinks how she takes great pleasure from “grossing ’em out”.  That’s the gentle sex for you.

 

 

 

Dear Ken,
I have thoroughly enjoyed Cleo Kelly and Jacky Boy - Both audio books. I am disabled with MS, and spend much of my time lying down so audio books are nice. Your voice is clear and easy to listen to as well!  Thank you for giving me such pleasure.  Mrs Ferol Ann Wright

My childhood was humble but happy, with nothing I’d ever wish to change. My education was at a Catholic grammar school and subsequently as a day release student at the Leeds College of Technology studying structural engineering, which was probably a dodgy path to take. I’d have been better off taking the path signposted Artists and Idiots.  Still, I’ve had a varied life which cuts down on the research I need to do. Val and I have five great children, and eleven fabulous grand children, so I know a thing or two about family relationships.

Dear Ken,
I am 72 years old and was born and brought up in the Hunslet Carr district of Leeds. not the most glamorous area. Your books remind me of growing up in this working class area during the war years, and in spite of the hard times how much happier as children we were. I now live in Richmond  North Yorkshire. Thank you for the pleasure your books have given me and please keep them coming.Mavis

Dear Ken,
I  know you probably hear this all the time but I  read your book called Annie’s Legacy and I just had to say you are a wonderful author and the story really moved me. Its like I was there in the house then to moving in with Leonard and at the church and then in that home. I have read many of your books but have to say that Annies Legacy really moved me even though its fiction things like that actually used to happen back then. I had given up on reading until my friend lent me your book. I’m so grateful and just wanted to thank you for helping me get back into reading. Lindsay Flory x

Did you see how I got a kiss from Lindsay? Among the friends and acquaintances whose knowledge I have on tap I can list coppers of all ranks, ex-army lads, teachers, doctors, a pathologist, captains of industry, tradesmen, workmen, actors and comedians. The construction industry doesn’t disqualify a man for having done time and I’ve employed my share of villains over the years. If they can do the job they get the job, providing they don’t cause me any trouble. I’m currently writing a book about a convicted murderer — Billy Byrne who served 25 years for a particularly vicious axe murder committed in Chapeltown, Leeds in 1977 — the very patch where the Yorkshire Ripper was then operating. Billy’s partner-in-crime was let out on life licence after 12 years, having pleaded guilty. Billy pleaded not guilty from day one and never changed his plea. This had the effect of him being classified as IDOM — In Denial of Murder. Parole boards tend to take a dim view of IDOMS and they certainly took a dim view of Billy. He eventually got out in 2002 on a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. I strongly believe him to be not guilty. Either way his story is disturbing, fascinating, funny and tragic.

 

Dear Ken, I am a physically disabled person and I love reading particularly sagas... I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Hope Street. I thought the plot was very good and I felt as though I was in a Working Men’s Club hearing the character Maggie sing... Anyway I hope to be reading more of your novels, especially if they are set in Yorkshire.
Andrew Houchin Nottingham
The various characters are very true to life as the author gives them background and makes them very much flesh and blood. The plots are very intricate and you are almost on the edge of your seat reading to see what will happen next. This very enjoyable, hard to put down book has some very witty parts as the plot twists and turns and all the various elements come together in an unexpected ending. This is the second book I've read in this series and I look forward to reading the further adventures of "Mad" Sam Carew.      EUROCRIME  on LOSER

 

Hi there Ken, started reading your books on the recommendations of your fellow author Sheila Quigley. I am now on Loser, so hurry and write another. I love Sam Carew and as a single mum with a busy three year old it is great escapism, so thank you. Julie Kouirat.

 

This last letter brings me neatly on to the subject of my mate, author, Sheila Quigley, who comes from Houghton-le-Spring up near Sunderland. Sheila’s a great laugh. We tour bookshops and libraries as Murder Ink, (A name dreamt up by one of Waterstone’s managers), doing what are loosely called “Events’. Well, with Sheila being who she is, and me spending so much time doing stand-up, it’s more of a comedy routine than an educational experience, but we draw good crowds. We’ve done a lot of events at Borders but that’s gone the way of all good book shops. This year we’re going to be joined by Matt Hilton, whose first book, Dead Man’s Dust, hit the best seller lists.

GOOD LUCK BAD TEMPER is the start of a new series. Just to give you a taste of it I’ve printed the beginning below. It’s set mainly in New York. The lead character is a bloke called Stryker, who’s a bugger when he gets going. Stryker is a former British commando who, during a ferocious fit of good luck and bad temper, won the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan. On leaving the army and just two days after he’s told that he was adopted as a baby, his adoptive  parents are killed in a terrorist attack aimed at him. He then discovers that on the day he was born, his real father, Joe Corcoran, butchered to death the world light heavyweight boxing champion and his family. Stryker goes over to the States to see this monster who is his real father, now rotting in Sing Sing prison for his sins. Stryker soon realises his new-found dad was framed by vicious New York crime boss, Felix Watchman. Stryker infiltrates Watchman’s gang in order to prove his dad innocent.
He teams up with Watchman’s daughter, the beautiful Danielle DiCaro, who also has good reason to hate her father and together they set about trying to prove Joe innocent, which is a deadly task considering the merciless man they’re up against. Stryker soon proves himself to be Watchman’s most effective soldier, but will Watchman’s cunning and cruelty lead to Stryker’s and Danielle’s downfall? You’ll never know unless you read the book. To buy it, click here.

 

GOOD LUCK BAD TEMPER

9.00 pm. October 9th 1979.  Long Island, New York.
A sharp gust of wind rattles through overhead branches and brings down a flurry of saturated leaves to
 add to the suffering pouring from the black sky and down the neck of Watchman’s reluctant employee. It’s a poor night to be hiding behind bushes in someone’s yard; especially with what the job entails. Warm, dry cloth next to the skin is a must when swinging an axe at human flesh; anyone who knows anything about butchery knows that.  But not Watchman. 
     This is what Watchman blithely dismisses as Wet Work, and he ain’t talking about the weather. Precision is required for such work, and precision requires comfortable working conditions. Watchman should know this, but he cares not for his employees’ working conditions. Do the job or die. These are his working conditions. He cares not a stuff about anything except his reputation, which has been besmirched by the idiot boxer who lives in the house — but not for long. He won’t be living anywhere for long. World champion or not, a man has to show respect to his mentor.
     Felix Watchman would not be overly impressed if he knew his employee is using drugs to wash away the reluctance. It’s the only way; rendering the mind clear and the conscience absent. A syringe full of brown heroin and acid injected straight into the vein has just taken away all the rights and wrongs of tonight’s work. The euphoric rush has already been and gone, leaving behind it that good old, don’t give a shit about anything feeling, which will last maybe a couple of hours. Long enough. After that it’ll be happy confusion with the happiness leaking away, to be replaced by emptiness, panic, sickness and pain in that order — a crippling, racking pain which can only be relieved by another fix or maybe death. Either or — who cares? Right now nothing matters. Right now life is a passing joke. Wrong. One life matters. The precious life that must be saved at all cost. The life of the beloved.
     Watchman is without a conscience. Watchman is a grotesquely evil man. He is also a most unsightly man. Some years previously a Brooklyn pimp describes him, with unwise accuracy, as being a big, ugly douchebag with a head like a hairy scrotum. Watchman, who has a down on pimps ever since he finds out his prostitute mother has been murdered by one, hears about this disrespectful behaviour and dispatches two of his employees to attend to the matter. Without bothering with anaesthetic they amputate the man’s testicles and invite him to eat them. After learning that Mr Watchman is offering the alternative of slow and painful death the man complies. This impresses Felix, who considers himself to be a firm but fair man. He  keeps his word and allows the man to live — albeit a life of celibacy and chronic dyspepsia. The story quickly spreads  through the five New York boroughs and people learn not to insult him. This also goes for the NYPD who have an unwritten rule about self-preservation.
     According to received information the boxer and his wife will in be in bed within an hour and asleep fifteen minutes after that. Boxers need to keep regular hours when they’re in training. The reluctant employee pulls the hood up on the US Army parka, runs a finger across the blade of the weapon which has been honed to scalpel sharpness. The hand axe. Invented one point two million years ago and still existing without drastic change or improvement in design. It had totally changed Stone-Age man’s life. He could now kill animals, chop meat, chop trees — chop enemies. The most successful piece of human technology in history. Must watch and wait for the house lights to go out; first the downstairs lights then the bedroom. After that, go to work in forty five minutes, maybe half an hour if this rain doesn’t ease off.
      ‘You must carry out the job with extreme prejudice,’ are Watchman’s orders. He got the term from some Vietnam war movie. He’s a man who leaves no room for argument. His orders are strict.  Do the kids first, then the parents. These are his instructions. As if it matters. How can Watchman possibly know if it is done the other way round? But he’ll know all right. That evil bastard knows everything. Jesus! It’s creepy the way he knows stuff.
     The only good thing is that it will prevent the beloved from suffering the most sadistic of deaths, plus ten grand in the pocket. This is the one good thing about Watchman — he pays well. The only good thing. Everything else about him is most seriously bad.
     Watchman’s employee watches the house and curses the lights for not going off. Tonight is a night for vigorous butchery. Tonight is a night for plumbing the depths but tomorrow is another day. Free and clear and in the money. It’s something to cling on to during the job. Tonight’s job will hit the media big time. It’ll go national and international within twelve hours, and sicken the hell out of a billion people.
     Felix Watchman needs the world to know what happens to people who disobey him and he has his own unique way of conducting a publicity campaign…