‘Lost In Manchester, Found In Vegas’ is a witty, life-affirming debut novel accompanied by it’s own EP soundtrack. GIGsoup sat down with the author Nigel Cartner to discuss becoming a writer, living in Vegas and his passion for new music.

Congratulations on the debut novel. Can you tell us what ‘Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas’ about?

Thanks, people often ask me is this another ‘Hangover’? It definitely isn’t. It’s a journey of self-discovery to Las Vegas involving four lads from Manchester, and the main character is searching for answers having come to a crossroads in life. There’s a lot of humour, emotion and honesty within it told from a Mancunian voice and perspective, and there’s a lot of music references to aid the imagery of certain scenes too. I think it’s a thought provoking book about moving on, going after dreams, and that no matter how bad life is or how shit you feel, you can do something about it and ultimately change for the better.

Judging from early feedback I think this is a book that’s appealing to both genders in various age groups, and it pleases me that people are relating to it and enjoying the story.

Did you have any other writing experience before this book?

Not really in terms of novels or story telling, but I’ve been a writer within the music industry for the last seven years now so the experience I’ve gained from writing reviews, features and interviews etc has been invaluable in finding my own style which I’ve then implemented into the book.

Writing a book or a script was something I’d always wanted to do since my late teens, but I didn’t have any experience or motivation until I went to Vegas seven years ago, which gave me the impetus to get my arse in gear and do something about it. I used to enjoy writing at school, and to some extent I regret not taking English further on to University level, but I think I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along since – and I’ve had some good people around to help and advise me.

Prior to writing this book what other things have you done?

Aside from writing within music I’ve also been a broadcaster on Pure 107.8FM in Stockport for the last 4/5 years. I host two shows, the main one being ‘Sonic Bandwagon’ which I co-host, where we promote new music.

The second show is ‘The Roadhouse’ which was playing more of the forgotten classics from across the ages within rock music. Pure 107.8FM is currently in the process of moving buildings and structuring, and due to my writing commitments only ‘Sonic Bandwagon’ will be continuing as we move forward, on Thursdays 9-11pm.

Lost In Manchester Found In Vegas, has an accompanying EP of the same name. Was writing the book with an EP always the plan? How did you come up with that idea?

Music is a big feature throughout the book, but the idea of an EP was a late decision that went through a couple of stages before finally settling on the 4 track CD we produced. The idea of a gig to launch the book was always on the agenda, and having ‘Mohawk Radio’, ‘Matt Fryers’ and ‘Jess Kemp’ perform at the launch just added to the whole experience on the night – and I’m glad they got to showcase their talents to a new audience.

It was strange, because a couple of months before the launch, both myself and Matt Fryers had the idea to write a song for the event if it could be done in time. Matt’s style and song writing prowess was a perfect match to capture the essence of the emotive side of the book, coupled with the image of the desert. He wrote the whole song using elements from the book for inspiration. ‘Searching for Answers’ is the title and its a fantastic piece which is one of Matt’s best songs – not that I’m biased. Haha.

But we then started to progress the idea into releasing the track as a freebie on the night, but why waste a CD on one song? So we thought it’d be a good idea to add others, toying with the idea of covering songs featured in the book. Eventually we settled on simplifying it and having a song each from the bands who performed on the night, with the additional ‘Rubys’ track, who sadly split a couple of years ago, but get a mention in the book. We’re very happy with how it turned out and to have a soundtrack for the launch and an official song for the book is incredible.

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Is this book complete fiction or is it based on real life events?

It’s a bit of both. The book started out as a completely true story and was meant to be something for me and my mates to keep and enjoy afterwards, but I just got the idea to make a complete story out of it that appealed to a wider audience, so I used experiences from various points in my life for inspiration, and then came the fun of adding in pure fiction to make it more entertaining – some parts of it now are hard to decipher what was fiction and was real because I’ve visualised the whole book over the past seven years. But it’s up to the reader to decide what’s pure fiction and what isn’t – I’ll never tell! haha.

Which character do you identify with most in your book?

Being a fictional book inspired by real events and told from the first person, then the main character, Ricky, is the one I associate closely with, but he is an exaggerated version of myself – eventually becoming so much braver I think.

Did you find the book easy or hard to write?

A bit of both really. I found the actual writing of it quite liberating and found that it flowed out of me quite easily. Having lived that time in Vegas I had a good understanding of what it was like and where I wanted the story to go. I think the challenge came when reading through, editing and correcting the grammar, and making certain parts of the story sharper and funnier, and I was lucky enough to have a bit of help in pointing these out. The editing and proofreading process was a bit of an eye opener as its not as easy as people might think. I definitely have a new found respect for people who do this as a profession. But even until a month before launch the creative juices were flowing and I found myself adding bits to the story even at that late stage. I think the pressure was bringing it out of me. Overall it’s been a challenge but I’ve loved every minute of it when I now look back.

Have you got any advice for new writers?

I think just keep at it and believe in your own story – make your heart and soul shine through. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and show someone for honest feedback. I know how difficult it was for me to show someone, but it helps you gain confidence. Don’t fear or be downhearted by rejection too – they say you’re not a writer until you get rejected. Self publishing is a good way to go…get your book out there and let the people decide and judge, and then market it as much as you can. No one will believe in your book more or do as much work for it than yourself.

Are there plans for another book?

There certainly is. Firstly there’s the sequel to this one. I don’t want to give too much away at this point as I want people to find out for themselves how Ricky will arrive at a sequel. But after the success of the launch night at Manchester 235 Casino, people are telling me to get the sequel out soon so we can have another fantastic night.

I do have plans for other stories away from this one in the future too, but I’ll keep those quiet for now until I really start to think about them and plan – but they will be on a similar theme, true to life stories that people can relate too.

Where can readers get hold of the book and EP?

I’m doing a series of book signings around the North-west, so people can come and say Hello! The book was self-published through ‘Spiderwize’, who have been brilliant through this whole process with their help and advice. The book is also available through ‘Amazon’, leave a review if you enjoy it and tell people about it! You can find more information at www.njcartner.com. You can also follow me at @njcartner and spread the word of ‘Lost in Manchester Found in Vegas’ through #LIMFIV

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