My guest this week is Malcolm Dixon, Head of Quality Assurance at the University of Kent who has just published his first novel, The Little House on Everywhere Street
. We learn writing fiction is more indicative of who Malcolm is than his day job, and he tells me why good writing is an exercise in misdirection.
Malcolm has written short stories in the past, and his novel is about a house with doors that lead on to different cities. It’s all about what makes a happy family, in which the family members have misadventures and go missing in time.
He grew up in Liverpool in a different time when it was a deprived city, and Malcolm reveals that he has a prodigious memory and can remember the great Winter of 1963 and going to see the Beatles in 1965, as well as being able to remember learning to walk. He would listen to the charts on a Tuesday lunchtime and to football matches on the radio.
Malcolm did his first degree in Sunderland and went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota on a sports scholarship. We learn that football is the lingua franca of his family. He also tells me his Ed Stewart story. Stewpot was a genuine football (Everton) fan and even corrected Malcolm on a football fact.
His parents were born in the early 1920s and his father kept a seaman’s log. We hear about his being attacked by enemy fire and about his grandmothers who were widowed early.
We learn about how Malcolm ended up doing his present role and how it isn’t who he is and we learn what his wife thinks his superpower is (letting people underestimate him). I ask Malcolm if he watches other people watching him.
With his new book he knew ‘this was it’, and he talks about how people believed in the project. He has other books in the pipeline – and indeed he has written a trilogy.
Then, at the end of the interview, we find out that Malcolm’s memories are mainly positive and that there isn’t much that he is nostalgic about, other than his children’s childhood, and he says why children are like Woody and Buzz from Toy Story.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Malcolm Dixon and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.