Eva Jordan in conversation with… Pete Adams – Author of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza


I’m extremely pleased to introduce fellow Urbane published author Pete Adams as my guest author today. Pete is the author of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza (released by Urbane Publications in June 2015), the third novel in the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy with the fourth in the series, Ghost and Ragman Roll, due for release on the 1st November 2016. Although a crime thriller, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza is also infused with Pete’s wicked sense of humour as you can see from the following hilarious book description;

DCI Jack Austin – Jane to his friends and the not so friendly – knew he shouldn’t have come in to work. Following a terrorist bomb, an incident with a tutu and a hangover that would fell an elephant, investigating dead dogs, dodging bullets and being pulled sopping wet from a naval harbour is not conducive to a sunny disposition. But when the Head of Armed Forces and a City Banker are brutally murdered what is a dashing DCI to do? FORCE, a powerful Star Chamber, is under threat and Jack will need to go deep undercover to get to the bottom of the sinister plot. As revelations and rocket attacks threaten to turn his world upside down (and ruin his best pair of trousers), Jack will need courage, skill and a huge dose of lady luck if he is to bring the perpetrators of a nefarious plot that goes all the way to the Prime Minister’s office to justice. As the trail leads to a showdown at the Albert Hall, Jack Austin, quintessential jumped up barrow boy and Portsmouth’s very own self-styled national icon, must fight to save his reputation, the country, and the lives of those who matter most. And work out just what a dead dog has to do with it allIt is a fine line between genius and madness, or so they say, and so, with just a little trepidation, I asked Pete Adams, author of the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy in eight books, and the self illustrated nonsense books Whopping Tales, are you mad, and do you have to be at least a little mad to be a writer?

Now, read my interview with Pete, with a straight face if possible, and learn how, amongst many other weird and wonderful things, he became a writer. Oh, and don’t forget to take a quick look at his wonderful self-portrait at the end!

So Pete, are you Mad? 

My mum used to say to me as a kid, and then, using the word loosely, as a grownup, “You’re mad, M U D, mad”. I think she meant it kindly, but I have always taken on challenges that I am generally perceived as incapable of doing, but I did, have, and still do, and likely always will. But success in all that I have tried, well that would be another matter, and it is the varying degrees of achievement, or not, that drives me MUD.

So frustration at lack of achievement, or people’s faith in your ability to succeed, is it this that drives you? And does this make you mad? 

I became an architect after I was advised to stick with being a draughtsman; I qualified with distinction. I set up my practice within six months of getting my professional papers, against all advice, because I couldn’t handle being told what to do. That was in 1977 and my practice still goes, not always thriving, as I am want to tell the clients where they may be going wrong, nicely, if a tad forcefully sometimes, but, we are good designers and I am proud of our ability, my ability. So, a successful practice, you will need to define success; I can hold my head up, though we are sometimes called MUD.

So that is success surely, or is it arrogance that troubles you? 

No, never ref.

It’s about self belief then?

Maybe, or it just could be that success is not as important to me as the doing, and that drives the people around me MUD.

So it is audacity? 

Who knows; I have done, and failed in various degrees, many other things from a total and complete failure at DIY for instance, my partner, she says “Destroy it Yourself”, and anything else practical with only partial success; I garden using the scorched earth policy, never could stand pottering.

Nerve then, like a sportsman when he goes onto the field? 

Hmmm, sport, I was okay at cricket except the ball kept hitting the wicket, shite at rugby, but loved it and stayed on the team because I was a laugh on the pitch; I have the rare distinction in my club as being the only player told by the ref, “One more joke and you’re off.” The team and I were proud of that, but it drove the ref MUD.

Brass, would that be it? 

Yeah, maybe, I was good at the after rugby stuff, and became MC Mariner, a post that was retired when I retired from the club; I MC’d the Annual Mariner Charity dinners for more than seventy five years, it was actually twenty, maybe a few more, but I was so bad at rugby, and my head, being particularly oval shaped, was often mistaken for the ball, so the memory…and anyway, dinners would be an exaggeration as we cooked them ourselves, a national theme every year and David Duckham, celebrated England winger, still talks to this day of his invitation to the Russian dinner, referring especially to the beetroot soup, beetroot starter, beetroot main course and beetroot ice cream, for a hundred guests or more – still they kept coming back, on the condition I stuck to MC’ing and not cooking.

Sigh – Impudence, temerity? 

Who you calling Temerity, that’s a girl’s name. Yes, my daughter says that at my funeral she will say in her eulogy, “He tried everything, and with such enthusiasm, he became a leg end, but it drove everybody else MUD”.


Hmmm, maybe, and oh how they laughed when I said I’m gonna write.

So, imperiousness? 

Oi, I’m a socialist and proud of the fact.


         S’alright sweet’art, just pulling yer leg.

So, I started one evening, after settling myself under the stairs, set the washing machine and tumble drier going, and began; it was a summer and so the boiler remained still.


(Are you getting fed up Eva?)

Shusssh, answer the questions please, you’re starting to drive me MUD

(Ooh err missus) 

I have often argued I could have been a sturgeon, even if I did have Bowyer fingers and not fish fingers, but I resisted that branch of a challenge as I never could stand the sight of blood, or Tartar sauce for that matter. However, I managed the handwriting, though the College of Sturgeons (collective noun for caviar producers) say I am not known for my delicate touch, and my clumsy one finger typing commenced that balmy summer’s evening, barmy being the operative word, and the novels rattled out with a keyboard replaced every six months; “For Gawds sake type softly”, calls from around the house; seems my typing drove everyone MUD.

Gutsiness, spunk? 

I’ll have none of that language please and yes, I do like Guinness, there’s eatin’ and drinkin’ in it.

So, my huge family conspired, “He’s writing books now…”


“Feckin’ books” (My missus is Irish)

“Dad, didn’t you fail English?”

“What’s that got to do with the price of fish?” I replied quoting Abraham Lincoln. I failed GCE English ‘O’ level, twice; well, it was hard; they’ve dumbed it down a bit since then.

But you got a degree and a post graduate Distinction in Diploma for Architecture, what was that, brashness, gall, backbone, brass neck or cockiness? 

It was schtummness?

That’s not a word.

Could be, I’ve applied to my mate Colin who is thinking of starting a dictionary.

I kept schtumm and got all the way through School of Architecture, degree and post grad, and had the interview for my post grad distinction when they picked up the fact that I did not have the necessary qualifications to get onto the course. Well, they never asked, just presumed, and who am I to presume to tell them, and this drove them MUD.

So audacity? 

Maybe, but immediately after I submitted my first, first year design report, the tutor called me in and seemed surprised that I was not a Johnny Foreigner, which drove me MUD. I was so MUD, I made it my business to learn English, and steadily my reports improved and by the time I was in my post graduate years (Janet and John standard), I was getting plaudits for my writing; “Look Janet, see Peter writing, isn’t he dead good an that”, and it helped in their decision to award the Distinction; anyway what could they do?

I told them life was like a bowl of cherries and I think that was the clincher.

So hubris? 

Yes my books are thought to be humorous, although I prefer to think of them as serious but make you laugh. I’ve written eight novels and three illustrated nonsense books since settling into my sous-escalier utility room to write, (for those of you who need illuminating, escalier is like a small onion-shaped like a staircase, and Sous is the girl next door, a right sweet’art)

Phew – Tenacious, would that describe you? You have an adventurous spirit, you have guts? 

Yes, I would say I have an intestinal fortitude that can defy the meanest Jalfrezi, and in the world of books and an immense Mickey taking family, you need pertinacity and a dogged determination.

Oh I see and that involved hiding away under the stairs in the utility room, sorry writer’s den / study, because you lacked a certain loftiness, bluster, braggadocio when writing, did it? 

Listen mate, I’m actually tall and I love all things Italian, I even have a picture of the Eyeful Tower in the utility room, writing den (it has the top bit bent over as it wouldn’t fit because of the stairs), and if you must know I am probably the most modest person you are ever likely to meet and would probably win the Booker Prize for Modesty, if there was one.

Alright, I give up, what is it that best describes you and your approach to writing, and life really? 



Yes Chutzpah, I think he was the brother of Ghunga Din? That’s me; except I don’t play the bugle, but I do blow my own trumpet.



Pete chose the subject of madness himself as he is currently writing his ninth novel, Larkin’s barkin’, sub titled, ‘Where’s me chutzpah?’ And he tells me that his writing career really took off after kissing the Barmy Stone.

Thankyou Pete, most illuminating, and please take that smirk off your face, it is driving me MUD.


Take a look at the following links if you want to find out more about Pete and his books.

Facebook – Book Page – reviews, interviews, I review other books, and for those who would ordinarily sit at the back of the class tittering, some funnies:

Facebook here

Book One – Cause and Effect – self-published here
Book Two – Irony in the Soul – self-published here
Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – Urbane Publications here
All of the 8 books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets trilogy are written:
Book 4 – Ghost and Ragman Roll – will be published by Urbane out on the 1st Nov 2016
Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins
Book 6 – The Duchess of Friesian Tun
Book 7 – Rhubarb in the mammon
Book 8 – Umble Pie

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