Pilkington, John 1948-

views updated

PILKINGTON, John 1948-

PERSONAL: Born June 11, 1948, in Lancashire, England; companion of Elisabeth Gray (a librarian); children: Nicholas. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Middlesex Polytechnic, B.A. (with honors), 1983; University of London, M.A., 1986. Politics: "Left of center." Hobbies and other interests: Politics, theater, literature, home carpentry, music (especially jazz), walking.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Anne Dewe, Andrew Mann Ltd., 1 Old Compton St., London W1D 5JA, England.

CAREER: Writer. Soft Options Theater Company, cofounder, actor, and director, 1983-84. Worked as laboratory technician, shipping clerk, weaver in a carpet factory, farm hand, laborer, garage attendant, picture framer, and guitarist in several bands.

MEMBER: Crime Writers Association of Great Britain.


A Survival Guide for Writers, Robert Hale (London, England), 2000.

The Ruffler's Child: A Thomas the Falconer Mystery (historical crime novel), Robert Hale (London, England), 2002.

A Ruinous Wind: A Thomas the Falconer Mystery (historical crime novel), Severn House Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.

The Ramage Hawk: A Thomas the Falconer Mystery (historical crime novel), Severn House Publishers (New York, NY), 2004.

Pilkington's fiction has been translated into German.


Hurdles (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 1981.

Murmur of a Summer's Day (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 1987.

Spindle-Shank Em (one-woman stage play), produced in staged reading in Exeter, England, 1990, produced in London, England, by Royal Shakespeare Company, 1991.

A Frozen Stream Called Wounded Knee (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 1992.

Heartland (stage play), produced by Wessex Actors Company on tour of British cities, 1995.

Plantation (stage play), produced by Orchard Theater Company on tour of British cities, then in London, England, 1995.

Dead Man's Button (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 1995.

The Wrestling Field (stage play; with music), produced in Exeter, England, 1996.

Dangerous Samples (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 1996.

Accommodating Lena (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., Devon, England, 1997.

The Colours of Steam (radio play), British Broadcasting Corp., 2003.

Author of "Plantation" (radio play; based on his stage play), broadcast in Play of the Week series, British Broadcasting Corp. World Service, 1998; and "Apostle of Light" (radio play), broadcast in series Producer's Choice, British Broadcasting Corp., 2002. Also wrote several episodes for television series Doctors, British Broadcasting Corp., between 2002 and 2004.

Pilkington's radio plays have also been broadcast in South Africa.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A fourth historical crime novel, for Severn House Publishers (New York, NY).

SIDELIGHTS: John Pilkington told CA: "I write for a lot of reasons. Like many writers I had a troubled childhood and needed to develop a creative outlet. In my teens and twenties I thought it was to be music (I played in various bands as drummer and guitarist) before I realized I was a writer. With hindsight, I see I was a writer from an early age: one of those kids who was always on top in English and on bottom in math! Now I can't imagine a life without writing. It's what defines me, gives me status and direction.

"I began by writing radio plays and for many years considered myself a playwright first and foremost. I still write scripts for television and radio in between writing my novels. Mystery writing was a new venture for me; a few years back, partly for purely pragmatic reasons and partly because I wanted to try my hand at a 'historical' crime novel. I found I enjoyed it, as I enjoyed the research—and still do. I now write the 'Thomas the Falconer' series, set in Elizabethan England (late sixteenth century). Three books have been published, with a fourth in preparation and (hopefully) more to follow. It was somehow inevitable that the books would be set in this period, which I first came to through its drama and literature (Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, et alia). Later I became fascinated by the social and political background. If I believed in reincarnation I would say I was once an Elizabethan poet, scratching away by candlelight in a tumbledown tenement in Shoreditch with a broken quill. I am influenced by all the great writers, and by all genres from westerns to classics; in drama from Aeschylus to Albee; in literature particularly the Elizabethans, Gothic novels, the eminent Victorians, and many moderns. I am thoroughly English and influenced by the land and people, particularly the beautiful southwest where I have lived for much of my life. The emergence of my 'Falconer' protagonist is a tale in itself: in general I disapprove of hunting, yet I can identify with a falconer. Perhaps the desire to soar like a hawk is in all of us.

"I write all morning and sometimes part of the afternoon. Oddly I write novels directly on to the computer and scripts by hand, before transferring them later. Either way I must get quickly into the flow; thereafter time simply passes without my knowledge. I try to treat it like a job, but of course writing isn't like any other job; a writer, the saying goes, is always in his working clothes.

"The most surprising thing I have learned from being a writer is that most people aren't interested in what you do and don't ask about it. In terms of which book of mine is my favorite, I would say that each of the 'A Thomas the Falconer Mystery' books has been my favorite after I finished it."



Booklist, December 1, 2003, Emily Melton, review of A Ruinous Wind: A Thomas the Falconer Mystery, p. 652.

Publishers Weekly, January 5, 2004, review of A Ruinous Wind, p. 44; June 28, 2004, review of The Ramage Hawk: A Thomas the Falconer Mystery, p. 35.