Black Moss, the new novel from writer David Nolan

David Nolan, Balck Moss, Manchester Noir
Manchester Noir-David Nolan, author of the new novel ‘Black Moss’Manchester Noir is fast becoming a genre of its own and the latest locally based crime thriller is ‘Black Moss’ by former Altrincham resident David Nolan. This is David’s first novel and it’s a gripping read. Set against the backdrop of the Strangeways riot in 1990, it involves the discovery of the body of a small boy on the moors above the city. Junior radio reporter, Danny Johnston, is covering the case – albeit reluctantly. Danny would much prefer to be with the big players at Strangeways. Many years later, now Daniel, and with a high profile career in TV behind him, the former cub reporter returns to Manchester and picks up the unresolved case of the body on the moors. We met David recently to talk to him about ‘Black Moss’ and to ask him if he would like to be involved in Wordfest 2019.

Originally from Altrincham, David has had a long and successful career as a TV and radio producer and writer of celebrity biographies for people as diverse as the Sex Pistols and Emma Watson. However, it is clear that a major turning point in both his career and life was the arrest and subsequent prosecution of a teacher from his former school in Hale Barns on historic child abuse charges. David was a victim of former St Ambrose College chemistry teacher, Alan Morris, who was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in 2014. He waived his right to be a witness in Morris’s trial and shadowed detectives investigating what became the biggest historic sex abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police. David wrote a book ‘Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil’ about the case. He also made a TV documentary and a piece for Radio Four ‘The Abuse Trial’ which was broadcast in 2016. The programme won Gold at the New York International Festival and also won a Rose d’Or.
David’s rage at a society that allowed and still allows such things to happen to young children is the catalyst for ‘Black Moss’ . Although not overly graphic, the novel is dark and very disturbing, undermining the reader’s trust in the agencies that should protect the vulnerable in society. David admits that his aim is to ‘grab you by the hair and rub your face in it’. ‘It’ is what he believes is the poor state of child protection in our society. It is obvious talking to David that one of the most painful aspects of the Alan Morris case is that large numbers of young boys were abused in plain sight for many years. It seems inconceivable that adults did not suspect that something was going on and try to protect the children. David is now a campaigner for better child protection and mandatory reporting. The latter would have ensured that other teachers with suspicions about Alan Morris would have been legally obliged to report them, hopefully curtailing Morris’s career of abuse which ultimately lasted for three decades.
Black Moss is a novel but is it certainly isn’t fantasy and David takes the same effort over fact checking here as he does in his non-fiction. His portrayal of life as local radio journalist is based on his own experiences and the details of police procedure are meticulous and checked out by his police contacts. He paced out the number of strides to walk across a car park which plays a central role in the novel and worked out the distance to the nearest pub from the real police station that he used as his model. But why? ‘It would be a lie otherwise’. Although the discovery of a child’s body on the moors makes Mancunians of a certain vintage thinks of Brady and Hindley, David tells us that that in fact the central story is based on a different real murder case.
So authenticity is very important to David. My suggestion that the apparently strategic placing of a dead body across a county line may be a nod to Scandi-Noir drama ‘The Bridge’ is given short shrift.
‘You’re overthinking it. There are no nods and no irony in this book’ David is certainly a no-nonsense man. Writing is his job, he’s very good at it and he does it to pay the bills not because he feels like it. David is unimpressed by the idea that special music or scented candles are required to create the correct mood for writing. He’s only just
bought a desk for goodness sake! The message is – ‘Just do it folks!‘
We are very excited that David has agreed to do an event for us at Wordfest 2019. The
provisional date is Thursday the 23rd May.

 

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