60 Seconds with…Frank Pickering!

As well as writing novels and short stories Frank is also a musician and prize-winning poet. Here’s 60 seconds with Frank…

Q: How did you first discover your talent?

I have always loved words and stories. My poem, below, explains some of their appeal to me.


Everything reeks.
Plasticine and ink, boiled dinners, Dettol and sick.
The Beacon Readers too (waxy, oily)
Scattering stuttering light
On the labyrinth of language.
“Baby likes Rover.”
I read “licks”. My parents laugh.
I see that words are weasily. Books can bite.

“Crocodile Tears” (lost on me),
A book to reassure the nervous child
Before a visit to the dentist
Leaves me afraid of both dentists
And crocodiles.
For weeks I will not put my feet
Down the end of the bed
Where all those teeth await.

Ignorant, impressionable and ill-equipped,
I blunder into unknown words and worlds.
Those adventurous children
Who have cream on their porridge
(We never have cream on anything)
And go home for the hols.
(Home from where?)
What is a pirrot? (Spelled ‘pirate’, heard ‘pirrot’)
And why does Christmas Future
Wear an extinguisher as a hat?
(Hefty red cylinder, hose attached –
I know no other.)

In truth I do not expect or desire answers.
The alien, exotic and (frankly) bonkers
World in books is what I crave,
Not gritty realism.
Cold bedrooms, bullying, poverty, boredom,
I can live that.
But under the covers,
Lit by a failing bicycle lamp
I watch Bill the lizard
Crash into cucumber frames
(What are those?),
Smell tropical spices in “Dream Gold”
(Why are the boys sleeping at school?)
And wonder why William’s family
Wear such weird clothes.

Our roadside ‘School’ sign
Is emblazoned with a torch.
I have no idea why.

Q: Which three words best describe your act?

Informative. Entertaining. Digressive.

Q: How many shows have you performed to date and which was your favourite?

As a poet – hundreds. As a fiddle-player – hundreds. As a newly-published author of a modern gothic novel – none, although I expect to have performed twice before the Fringe date. My favourite musical performance was playing on the back of a steam traction engine through the streets of Tavistock.
Q: Which two fictional characters from film, literature or theatre would you replace your parents with?

John Jarndyce from ‘Bleak House’ and Mary Poppins.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you have been given by a fellow performer?
It’s your choice to be there. Enjoy it and so will the audience.
Q: What will you be performing at Shaftesbury Fringe 2017? 

It will be a one-hour presentation and signing of my newly-published novel, ‘Ice’, in the Gold Hill Museum at 2.30pm on Saturday July 1st.

And you can follow Frank here on Twitter. Thanks franks!