Now You Know
By Christopher Walker
Charlie is a bored, gay, urban teenager with a scratch card obsession, an electronic tag and a crush verging on hero worship on his next-door neighbour. He is confused as he explores his sexual identity and feels guilty that his Dad left because of he couldn’t handle a gay son. Charlie lives in South London, and recounts his memories of one summer when crime soared and a mysterious vigilante rose from anonymity to conquer all. Young criminals were rounded up, hunted down and de-hooded as the media speculated wildly as to who the vigilante could be. Charlie claims to be the only one with the real story and he tells it to Stephen Fry. Part mystery, part coming of age, part exploration of an audacious grasp for celebrity, Now You Know, is a powerful and striking novel.
A violent look at an unruly London caught in the grip of gangsta fear told in a unique, page-turning way.
Christopher Walker was born on an army base not long after Apollo 11 returned from the moon. Since graduating university (College of Wooster), where he studied English Lit, Christopher has lifted heavy objects at a fine arts auction house, mixed Bloody Marys at a Chicago bar, and for the past fifteen years raised millions for charities in the United Kingdom and United States. He lives in Brighton, England, in a narrow house by the sea.
Why make the narrator gay? Is it important?
It made sense. For a start, I thought it would be something for me to try writing as a young, gay British man. I could have tried writing more as a young woman, but the voice always kept slipping round to a boy’s. Also, because I knew M was going to be a superhero, it made sense to have something of a homoerotic relationship between the young narrator and the older neighbour and protagonist. You see it – or at any rate something similar – everywhere in comics.
The Great Gatsby has influenced me more than any other novel. I knew that I wanted to use the narrator living next door to the mysterious and secretive protagonist. I didn’t want the narrator to be pervy or creepy. I thought: a crush. When you’ve got a crush on someone, you pay attention to everything they do. You can watch without being sinister.
Why did you choose Steven Fry as the silent listener?
How many people, do you imagine, would choose Stephen Fry to be a dinner party guest or their confessor? It has a lot to do with his personality, or how we, who don’t actually know Stephen Fry, perceive him. Brainy, patient, kindly, witty, inquisitive, trustworthy – and very much human.
There’s a good deal of violence in Now You Know. Is this an accurate portrait of how you see London?
There is a good deal of violence, and yet I don’t see it as a particularly violent book and yet it is sort of how I see London. I had to envisage how it would be for a younger man. Not a day goes by when there isn’t a story in the news about violent acts committed on (and by) young people. I don’t think, as a rule, young people are violent but, if you listen to what young people have to say, you do get a picture of the static threat of violence – something that can crackle up without warning.