I am lucky to welcome the lovely Ross Greenwood to my blog today, to celebrate the publication of his novel, The Boy Inside.
He has kindly taken the time to answer a few questions, ranging from how his time working in the prison service influences his writing and also tells us his favourite books from 2016. His answers are honest, powerful and funny!
I want to thank Ross for taking the time to answer my questions.
All of the characters were based on the people I met. I mixed them up to make them more dramatic or to make it clearer where they came from.
2. Do you think readers will gain a better understanding of the prison community, both for prisoners and staff by reading your novel?
I really hope so. I was wrong about the type of people we lock up. Sure, there are career criminals, or people who have specifically gone out to rob a bank or ship cocaine, but many, if not most, have drifted into criminality, often through a disassociated upbringing. Drugs and alcohol play a part, as does boredom. Many have just made one mistake.
Our prisons are woefully understaffed. The government either doesn’t understand the issue or is lying to us about it. You can’t cut prison officer numbers to that extent with all the new threats (spice, drones etc.) and not expect to see an elevation in suicide, self harm, and violence. Both to other prisoners and to staff (including the healthcare staff). Figures released show this is happening. In effect, staff cuts are leading to more people dying.
It was the same in our jail with the healthcare staff. They were often short staffed. This would cause problems with lock up as some prisoners had to have their drugs at certain times and the wings couldn’t be locked until this happened. Staff can’t go home until the jail is secure, so the nurses might get grief from some officers and abuse from prisoners. Brilliant nurses or healthcare assistants who had an excellent rapport with the inmates would end up leaving and you are back where you started. Both jobs are hard, thankless tasks. One which many people couldn’t do, or specifically wouldn’t want to do.
3. Is there anything you find challenging in your writing?
I love being able to be at home with the kids, even though it’s sometimes harder than locking up a wing of felons. However, I often think of one of the worst jobs in a prison. That of gobwatch. Each prisoner when he gets his medication has to put it in his mouth and then drink a cup of water. This makes them swallow the drug, otherwise many would keep it in their mouths and sell it on the wing when they got back. So, every morning around 7.30 a.m., one job would be to stand next to the med hatch and look inside inmates mouths and under their tongues to make sure they weren’t concealing their tablet. You can just imagine the smells and sights that would assault you. Inmates are famous for the dental hygiene. Changing your own child’s nappy is a summer picnic in comparison.
4. I have a never ending curiosity about other readers favourite books! Given this, what was your favourite read of 2016.
Even though the weasel would get told off or disciplined, if it was done by a professional, it would be done in a considerate manner, even along the lines of, ‘Come on mate, that’s not you. What’s bothering you?’ It may have been the only decent piece of human interaction the boy has had for months.
5. Cwtch is the Welsh word for a hug or a safe place. I you could choose someone to cwtch famous or not, who would they be?
I’m a secret ginger admirer, so I had a thing for Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones for a while. My partner (a lovely blonde) has now told me it’s dyed. Just to hurt my feelings, ha ha.
6 .Can we look forward to more novels bringing life behind the walls to readers or do you plan on trying other settings in your future books?
Ross was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until he was twenty, attending The King’s School. Following this he began a nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.
He found himself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. On one of those occasions he met his partner about 100 metres from his back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed.
This book was started a long time ago, but parenthood and then four years as a HMP Peterborough prison officer got in the way of Ross being able to finish it. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave him the opportunity to finish the book, as unable to get back to sleep he completed it in the early hours of the morning.
Here is the link to Ross’s personal page
The Boy Inside can be bought from Amazon
It can also be purchased from Waterstones and other book sellers.