Smith, Razor 1960- [A pseudonym] (Noel Stephen Smith)

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Smith, Razor 1960- [A pseudonym] (Noel Stephen Smith)

PERSONAL:

Born December 24, 1960, in London, England; son of Noel Stephen (a raconteur) and Bernadette Mary (a homemaker) Smith; former spouse, Denise Ann Young; children: Dean Edward, Joseph Stephen, Lianne Margaret, Leah Nallen. Ethnicity: "White-Irish." Education: Attended secondary school and prison classes; London School of Journalism (correspondence institution), diploma in journalism (with honors), 1996. Politics: "Liberal/Socialist." Religion: "Born-again atheist." Hobbies and other interests: "Rockabilly" music of the 1950s, classic cars.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and prison inmate.

WRITINGS:

A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun: The Autobiography of a Career Criminal, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.

Columnist for New Law Journal. Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Punch, Big Issue, Guardian, Independent, and New Statesman.

SIDELIGHTS:

Razor Smith told CA: "I was born in London of Irish immigrant parents and grew up in south London, an area that has produced more armed robbers per square mile than any other district in the world. In the 1980s police and government statistics showed that ninety-six percent of serious armed robberies committed in the whole of England were carried out by a minority of men from one small corner of south London.

"With little formal education, due to being a habitual truant, and no educational qualifications, I left school at the age of fourteen in order to pursue a life of crime. I became a bank robber, receiving my first sentence for armed robbery at the age of sixteen. A rebellious and troublesome prisoner, I spent most of my teenage years in solitary confinement being forcibly tranquilized. When I was released I formed a gang of rockabillies and engaged in gang fights and petty criminality before getting back into serious armed robbery. Beginning in 1977 I was convicted of over one hundred armed robberies and firearms charges, as well as inciting a prison riot, numerous assaults on prison officers, and prison escape. I am presently serving eight life sentences plus eighty years under the British version of the ‘two strikes and out’ law.

"In prison I taught myself to read and write and gained qualifications in law and journalism so as to continue fighting the system. In 1992 I sold a couple of my journalistic pieces and poetry to an international journal of prisoners' writing, and gradually I began to get published in outside publications.

"In 2003 I was encouraged to write my life story by my friend and literary agent, Will Self, the novelist and broadcaster. The resulting book was A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun: The Autobiography of a Career Criminal. The book has so far exceeded expectations in both hardback and lately in paperback. I have now been commissioned to write the follow-up, Fixing It, which will cover my life since volunteering for HMP Grendon, a prison in Buckinghamshire that works on a therapeutic regime and has the lowest reconviction rates for long-term violent recidivists in Europe.

"I started writing as a kind of self-administered therapy on one level, and as a tool in my fight against the prison system on the other. But pretty soon I began to realize that I actually enjoy the act of writing. I try to put in at least six hours a day at my word processor, and the solitude of a prison cell is a perfect working environment. When I first learned to read, my favorite authors were John Steinbeck, Damon Runyon, Chester Himes, and G.F. Newman. More lately I have also grown to love the work of Ed Bunker and Charles Dickens.

"I have now served almost nine years of my present, and last, prison sentence, and for the first time in my life I am looking forward to a future free of the heavy shackles of crime and punishment. Writing has turned my life around, and I'm glad I found it, eventually. For me it has been the real key to rehabilitation."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Smith, Razor, A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun: The Autobiography of a Career Criminal, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun, p. 171.

[Sketch reviewed by agent.]

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Smith, Razor 1960- [A pseudonym] (Noel Stephen Smith)

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