In the third and final part of our interview with writer Mikey Walsh, he tells us about his appearance on Radio 4; why he thinks his books have been so loved; and why orange is his favourite colour…
Do you think if enough time passed you’ll write any more memoirs?
I had a feeling you might say that!
Right at this point now… I’ve finished this book; I love writing; and it’s almost like my whole destiny was to learn to write so that I could put it down. Now I feel that it’s done. The writing has gotten so big. I believed in the story and I believed it would do well, but I never intended to get well-known out of it. It’s more about the story itself. I mean it when I say I just want to be like everyone else. It doesn’t matter how shit things are if you’ve a roof over your head and someone to tell you it’s all going to be OK. I want to do that.
I thought the last line of the book was wonderful. A beautiful way to end it.
And it’s really true. I have so much appreciation for everything I have. But I do find it difficult meeting people when they know your deepest, darkest, most horrifying, ugly, hilarious stupid moments… everything. My whole heart and soul and brain and guts are all in these pages. It’s a lot for someone to take on.
How did you find being interviewed by Michael Buerk for Radio 4’s The Choice? He’s a proper hardcore journalist.
I was having a funny day that day. Originally I said I’d do it to help sales, but they told me it wasn’t about the book, just an opportunity for people with extraordinary lives to tell their stories. I thought, ‘I’ve already done that’! (Laughs) The book’s already out there.
It sent a lot of traffic to Entertainment Focus.
It was a really hard interview. Michael Buerk was lovely, as were the people who dealt with me on the show. I was doing the final parts of editing on my book and having to manage disagreements. As soon as I walked into the studio I rang the publisher and said I couldn’t do it; but someone from the publishers came with me in the end. There was this moment where he asked me something and I couldn’t go on talking. There was thirty seconds of me being very quiet. I looked up and there were tears, tears, tears from everyone in the studio. They were all silent! So I had to come up with something or stop the interview; so I came up with something random and stupid, just to talk about something different. It was a really difficult interview. I don’t dwell and I hate dissecting bad things, and I’m nobody’s victim. I think I’ve had the most incredible life and I wouldn’t change a single thing because it’s been an amazing journey. But there are some things that are difficult. It was the first interview with my voice on it where I was asked questions I found very hard to answer.
So what next. A rest?
I really want one. I want to hang out with friends, go on dates, spend days watching crap TV, buying He-Man toys from Ebay. I want a dog to take for walks…
There’s a cute dog on the cover of ‘On The Run’.
Katy Cunt. I was insistent about me with Katy Cunt! I’d love a dog: a French Bulldog called Evil-Lyn. (Laughs)
Both covers have an identifiable font.
Yeah, but this one’s orange, which is my favourite colour. Halloween orange! My publisher was like, “I hope you don’t mind, but we’ve made the book orange.” I was like, “Fucking amazing!” I didn’t mention anything but with the font and the orange it looks like The Goonies!
How do you feel now that you’ve finished ‘On The Run’?
Good and bad; wonderful; exciting; funny… whatever your life is, it’s like putting yourself through some really intense therapy writing about it like that. It really cost me to be so honest. As I was writing I was forgetting what I’d already written because I was just pouring stuff out. I remember writing the last chapter to meet the deadline, sending it to the publishers and telling them it was shit. They wrote back saying it’s incredible. When I read it back, it’s exactly the way things are.
Do you have a sense of satisfaction your books have done so well?
I’m really proud of the writing and really proud of the books. I’m astounded by the amazing response and how big the first book has been; and how well the second book is doing; but it’s about the story, it’s not about me. For a reader, they don’t need to know who I am.
It’s refreshing that your face isn’t everywhere, as any other bestselling author’s would be.
I’d hate that. What I look like doesn’t matter. There are safety elements because there are bad people out there anyway. Even if there wasn’t any kind of danger I still wouldn’t want to be out there. It’s never what I wanted.
Anything you can tell us about the film of ‘Gypsy Boy’?
It’s being done by a huge company. (Laughs) Directors, writers, people involved can talk about it rather than me. To put a face to the author you can just use a photo of whoever’s going to play the kid! (Laughs)
That’ll be on the cover of the next reprint.
Any Kate Bush on the soundtrack?
Oh my god I would love Kate Bush to do it! (Laughs) I want a Travelling person to be able to watch this film and be fucking proud of what we are, because we are an amazing culture. We’re not David Essex in a neck scarf – there’s so much more to us than that. I’m not slating David Essex, but whenever you see a drama series and they need a Gypsy they just dress someone up as David Essex. I’m sure they’ll do an incredible job. Going back to Kate Bush I understand the way that she’s never seen and that it’s the music that’s important – not her. So I’ll take a leaf out of her book. It’s the story that’s important, not me. For me, I feel that I need to die and be reborn again – again. (Laughs)
You’ve made a real connection with people who’ve read your books.
I’ve had amazing support from people on Twitter. Through the writing of this book I stayed on Twitter and pumped so much crap out into the ether. There was stuff going on that I daren’t speak about on Twitter. It was a difficult time but the people that were there saved me. I can’t thank them enough.
Your story’s really struck a chord with a lot of people.
Everyone’s felt alone. But it often comes down to one thing: like when a teacher turns to you and says you can be anything you want to be. It’s so fucking true! I just hope now I can be a little kinder to myself. I’ve no ill-feeling to anyone who’s wronged me; but the crappy thing is I’m more likely to blame myself. I take responsibility for myself, which is a big burden to bear. But I hang on to all the positive things from my past. My flat’s full of anything that will give me a sense or a feeling of being back where I was.
Minge, minge, minge.
That’s a lovely note to end on. Mikey Walsh, thank you for talking to Entertainment Focus.
It’s early evening and I invite Mikey for a post-interview pint (well, it’s that time of day). Sadly, he has other commitments, and extends a charming farewell, tilting his cap and blending into our fellow travellers on the pavements, disappearing into the sunny London streets. I’m left with the happy impression that I’ve met an ethereal character from one of the films he so admires.
You should meet him in his books. They’ll be around forever.