Joe Geraghty and Hull – Nick Quantrill
When I started to write the first Joe Geraghty novel, I was always going to write about my home city of Hull. I’d read Ian Rankin’s Rebus series and the way Edinburgh is used as a character left a deep impression. I wanted to do the same and bring an unfamiliar and unexplored place to the page. I wanted to explore what makes it tick and where it’s going in the future.
Broken Dreams sees the small-time Private Investigator searching for a missing woman. As he investigates, he learns she’s from a trawler family and that the death of the industry in the 1970s still reverberates around the city. Geraghty comes to see the consequences of taking work away from people and how that trickles down the generations, effectively playing a role in her disappearance. With regeneration failing and poor leadership, Geraghty surveys a seemingly broken northern city.
If it felt like I’d aimed for the bullseye when talking about the fishing industry, The Late Greats draws out a different aspect of the city. What started as a bit of fun for my own amusement – I was sick of seeing bands reforming purely for the money – led to me look at the city slightly differently. Hull is undoubtedly a place that marches to its own beat, no doubt because we sit at the end of the M62 corridor, only visited by people who have a reason to come. If you pass through all that awaits you is desolation and the North Sea. In The Late Greats, I found myself with a fictional band who’d toured the world and the families they’d left behind. The largely static nature of the city’s population contrasted with the nomadic lifestyle of being in a band and became an unexpected tool to explore the city through.
My latest Geraghty novel, The Crooked Beat , brings the city as a backdrop full circle. Broken Dreams looked to the past to explain the present, but this one, centred on Hull’s docks, is very much a novel about the future, both in relation to the city and Geraghty himself. Regeneration was very much at the forefront of my mind as I wrote. Despite the cutbacks imposed on the city by the Government, a sense of optimism around the place is undeniable. Major investment in green technology appears to be coming to fruition and has the potential to create employment for thousands. The city is also one of the four shortlisted places in the running to be crowned for 2017 UK City of Culture.
Similarly, Geraghty, disillusioned and cut adrift by his former colleagues, is a man looking for new opportunities and a shot at reinvention. I don’t know how things will play out for Geraghty or Hull, but as a writer, I feel privileged to have such fascinating subjects to examine.
“The Crooked Beat” is published September, 2013.