In spite of his convictions, Ken has never let his political activities take over. “My writing always takes priority over anything I do politically. That is the most important thing in my working life and I would never let my political activities get in the way of my work in any way.”
Ken days are structured. He starts work after breakfast and writes until about 4 o’clock. When he feels that he has done a good day’s work, he allows himself to pursue other interests like politics and music. “I am a morning person. As soon as I’m up, I want to get to my desk. In the evening I want to relax and eat and drink and do all that sort of low tension stuff.”
Music has always been an interest for Ken. Both his parents played the piano, and his father even considered playing professionally. Ken plays bass guitar in a blues band, called ‘Damn Right I Got The Blues’, and in ClogIron, whose first album, Top Lads All, was recorded in 2001 at Sunnybank Studios, Ripponden, West Yorkshire.
But Ken makes no false claims about his talents:“I’ve always played the guitar quite badly. I think it’s quite important to have something that you do badly, especially if you are the over achiever type of personality. Playing in a band is very sensory and writing is completely cerebral. My books are closely plotted, like all popular fiction, so I am always thinking about the mechanics of the story. Playing in a band is completely sensory. There’s a connection from the ears to the finger tips that does not pass through the conscious brain.”
He is also no stranger to the good life. “The worId is full of good things to eat and drink. I am very fond of wine, I love champagne and I am very comfortable in restaurants. I always think of what Dudley Moore said in the film Arthur, ‘waiters are wonderful people’. You ask them for something and they bring it. Same principle as Santa Claus. It’s one of the nicest things in the world to sit there sipping wine and talking to friends and have people bring you plates of food.’”
This lifestyle, combined with his left-wing views, has led to Ken being branded a ‘champagne socialist’. This does not worry him.
“Champagne used to be the toff’s drink, and ‘champagne socialist’ was some kind of insult. It isn’t any longer. It’s still a drink for special occasions but you can buy it in the supermarket.”
“When I started writing, every time I sold a book to a publisher for a £100 or £200, I would buy a bottle of champagne. In those days, a bottle of Bollinger cost £5, and I would figure, ‘I have made a £100 today. I can afford £5 for a bottle of champagne’. I started drinking champagne when I was not rich.”
Ken continues to write hugely successful novels, the latest of which, A Column of Fire, was published in September 2017.