I had the pleasure of talking with Megan Chapman from VIVA Magazine. The full interview can be read below or viewed here.
A Mancunian lads’ trip to Las Vegas becomes an in-depth and emotive look inside their heads, in the debut novel from Nigel Cartner.
Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas is the result of a lifelong dream of freelance music journalist and broadcaster Nigel, 35, who lives in Little Lever, Bolton.
Viva caught up with Nigel Cartner before his book signing tour that starts on Saturday 10 March at Tesco in Middleton – and then takes in Bury, Oldham, Stretford, Bury, Stockport, Trafford, Altrincham, and Bolton.
What’s Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas all about?
It’s about a lad called Ricky Lever who’s going through a bit of a tough time in Manchester. He’s split up with his girlfriend and with that comes the realization that life has somehow past him by and what he’s got to cling onto is six nights away with his friends to Las Vegas. He uses the time to kind of come to answers about his life like, what went wrong with his girlfriend, and puts himself under a bit of pressure to have six days days to come up with that. It’s a bit harder to come by then he initially thought with the madness that Las Vegas brings and the euphoria of it all really.
There’s a lot of humour to it, a lot of northern humour and northern wit. There’s a lot of music references as well that serves as a soundtrack for the book to create a better atmosphere and help the reader understand certain feelings. It’s not just a lads’ trip to Las Vegas. People ask ‘is it just the hangover?’, but it’s not it’s something completely different. It’s quite an in-depth and emotive look at what goes on through the male psyche when they are going through an emotional time. So, it’s quite an emotive story as well as being quite humorous.
You’ve mentioned that music plays a prominent role in the novel. What was your reason behind including the music?
I think because music is such a huge part of my life. From an early age, I’ve always been into it and I do a little bit of work in it as well (as a music journalist). I think that music helps heighten any emotions, it can change your mood and help you understand a mood better just by a certain song and I think just by adding that in, from my point of view, I thought it would just add to the whole atmosphere.
So like they walk through the casino and AC DC comes on. It’s a pulsating track and you feel it. You know if you walk through a casino in Vegas and that track is on it’s that kind of swagger that it brings. It’s the same with the emotive side of it too. Johnny Cash’s ‘hurt’ is in there and that just one example, there’s about 50 odd songs in it. It helps create that emotive mood of what’s going on in people’s minds at that point.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
I’ve always been interested in film and TV from a young age but since my late teens, I’ve always had this idea I wanted to write a book. I initially started with a script about my university days. Then university finished, you get a job and life changes. For a few years I felt like I needed to write a book or just do a creative writing course, just something because I had this desire within me to do it.
So when me and my friends did actually book to go to Las Vegas I thought right I’m going to use this whole experience to write about the trip. It was supposed to be a true story about me and my friends but as I was writing it I just had all these ideas to expand on it and bring in other experiences and then over the years it just grew and grew.
I knew it wasn’t something I could keep between me and my friends anymore I knew I had to just get it published. It took me a while though to give it to someone else though because it is quite frightening.
Did you take traits from your friends and add them into Ricky’s friends?
The trip to Vegas was a true story but there was six of us that went, and I’ve cut it down to four. So yeah, I’ve used the traits of people who were actually there and amalgamated them into one person. Other friends as well who couldn’t make the trip if they read deeply enough into it they might just see themselves in there. I’m not revealing who they are though, ha-ha.
Why was it so important for you to put Manchester in your writing?
I like the idea of having that Mancunian element to it. And I know the humour and know my roots. In films you always hear of people in America going to Vegas to get over a breakup or whatever but you never hear it from the English point of view. I thought it would be interesting to add that Manchester element, especially with Vegas being much more accessible these days.
Are there any similarities between Ricky, the main character, and yourself?
I think he is loosely based on myself. It is based on hard times I’ve had and I’ve just brought them together. A lot of the thoughts that Ricky has came from myself and a lot of what I’ve felt and been through. Not necessarily just what happened in Vegas but something that has been spread over several years. I just threw it in there.
How did you find the writing process- especially since this is your first novel?
The writing of it was surprisingly like second nature. It was two days after I came back from Vegas I started on this story and I had the first draft done within two or three months. I think the bit where I struggled was the editing process because I hadn’t been through a creative writing course.
That was long and painful and just felt like I was going around in circles. We, me and my editor who was also new to it, must have read it hundreds of times but there was always something we weren’t happy with or some grammatical error. By the end of it I just had a new-found respect for editors and proofreaders, how they go through the editing process is just unbelievable.
It took a while to do but I’ll just take that into the second one, so hopefully it will run a bit smoother from the editing point of view.
So you have another up and coming book?
Yep, it’ll be the sequel to this one. I can’t reveal too much of how it starts because the final pages of this book lead on to it. So it’s the same main character with a lot of new characters in it and a completely different story but it does follow on.
Can you reveal anything, like any dates?
Nothing in terms of dates, I’ve been working hard on it since the new year, so I’ve given myself until around Easter. I’m thinking at that point I should have a better idea of when it could be released. At this point, I’m guessing around September 2019, about 18 months or so.
Nigel’s next book signings for Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas are:
Saturday 10 March, 10am-4pm: Tesco, Middleton
Saturday 7 April, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Bury
Saturday 14 April, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Oldham
Saturday 21 April, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Stretford
Sunday 22 April, 10am-5pm: Tesco, Bury
Saturday 5 May, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Stockport
Saturday 12 May, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Trafford
Saturday 26 May, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Altrincham
Saturday 2 June, 10am-5pm: WH Smith, Bolton