Black Moss poster

Interview with David Nolan…..

Black Moss author

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please? Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Black Moss is my first fiction book. I’ve written a dozen factual books previously. The ideas for those were largely practical – to earn money! I was supposed to be writing a factual book about historic child abuse, but it fell through. I was so angry I started taking it out on the laptop… and it turned into Black Moss.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Every single one of the characters is based on a real person. I’ve met a lot of journalists and police officers over the years and many of them are in Black Moss.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

Initially, I used the real person’s name, then I changed it by taking a first name and surname from two similar people. I like utilitarian, straightforward names.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

Write whenever you can, even if it’s just a sentence. You don’t need writing rooms or mood music. Get you head down, do a shift.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Harlan Ellison, Harlan Ellison, Harlan Ellison, Harlan Ellison and Harlan Ellison.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Probably…. Harlan Ellison. He died recently but I would have asked him: after thinking up the title ‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream’ what did he say to himself?

Did he say… ‘that’s a cracking title that is, Harlan’? I would have definitely said that!

Were you a big reader as a child?

There were hardly any books in my house when I grew up, so libraries were my window to the world. I remember being taken aside when I was at primary school and being asked why I was reading a book called ‘The Brave and the Bold’ when I should have been reading ‘Janet and John’.

When did you start to write?

I left school at 16 and started work as an apprentice journalist. I’ve written for a living all my working life – 37 years. Black Moss is the first thing I’ve ever written outside of ‘working’ writing though.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change? Is there a book you wish you had written?

I love Peter May’s ‘The Black House’ but the ending frustrates me. It feels rushed. I’d slow it right down. Tease it out a bit.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?

I sort of already have. I wrote a book about my schooldays called ‘Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil’. It’s what one of the teachers would say before he beat the pupils, although the beatings weren’t the worst part of being at the school. It was made into a documentary for BBC Radio 4. I think quite a lot of good has come from it.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

I don’t drink coffee… so I’d take young Kes from ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ for fish and chips and a can of Dandelion and Burdock at my local chippy. He looks like he needs a good meal inside him.

What are you working on right now?

A second novel. It’s. Really. Hard. I don’t want to jinx it by saying anything!

Tell us about your last release?

Most of my previous books have been about music. My last book was about the rock band The 1975. Rather handily, they are from just down the road from me. It’s great to write about music that you really love.

Do you have a new release due?

Black Moss, my first novel, has just been published. It’s set in the near present and during the Strangeways prison riot of 1990 in Manchester. All the good reporters are covering the riot, so a bad reporter is sent out to look at the discovery of a boy’s body at Black Moss reservoir in the hills above Oldham. He comes back to Manchester 26 years later to look at the case again. It’s a very personal book. It’s quite an angry book too. Nearly everything in it really happened in one way or another.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

When the books arrive I purposely don’t open the package for as long as I can, to stretch it out. Then I place it very carefully on my shelf and look at it.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

On Twitter @nolanwriter or on Instagram.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

No one is more surprised than me that Black Moss has been published. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Seriously.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, David 🙂

Black MossSept18thJPEG


In April 1990, as rioters took over Strangeways prison in Manchester, someone killed a little boy at Black Moss.

And no one cared.

No one except Danny Johnston, an inexperienced radio reporter trying to make a name for himself.

More than a quarter of a century later, Danny returns to his home city to revisit the murder that’s always haunted him.

If Danny can find out what really happened to the boy, maybe he can cure the emptiness he’s felt inside since he too was a child.

But finding out the truth might just be the worst idea Danny Johnston has ever had.


Author Info

David is a multi award-winning author, television producer and crime reporter. He has written a dozen books including Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, the true story of the largest historic abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police. He presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary based on the book called The Abuse Trial. It won both the Rose D’Or and the New York International radio awards in 2016. Officers involved in the case helped David with the police procedures featured in Black Moss, particularly the way the system deals with missing children.  

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Happy reading 🙂

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