Indie spotlight is a new feature that we’ve added this year, and for our second issue, I’m delighted to introduce John Drake. I say delighted, but that’s through gritted teeth, because John is not only a brilliant writer, and not only horribly quick at getting his books out, but he’s a terribly nice person. In fact his only real fault is his obsession with Tranmere Rovers. John currently has three books out in the cruel world, with a fourth joining them on June 1st.
John’s first book, Making Man, is a little gem: it’s billed as the world’s first neanderthal comedy novel. Whilst Littlenose might have something to say about that, until further evidence is found, I think we have to support John’s assertion, if only because the Littlenose books are collections of short stories. But I digress.
Making Man follows the adventures of neanderthal engineer Cobble of the village of Boardom (possibly one of the earliest puns in prehistory). Cobble has the kind of dreams that change the world, and sometimes leads to the dreamer being chased out of their home by people with flaming torches and/or a tendency to ask difficult questions about your role in breaking things of inestimable value to the community…Ultimately the book is about family and friendship, particularly the family you choose for yourself, and surviving the family you get born with.
Fans of Douglas Adams and Sir Terry Pratchett may not enjoy Making Man as much as those esteemed authors, there are fewer elephants and no Vogons after all, but they should enjoy and remember it fondly nonetheless.Making Man, blurb
I’m cautious of comparisons with other authors, but that’s another story. Do not be fooled by the mention of Pratchett and Adams – John Drake does have his own voice. I’d even go so far as to say that this is a much more original work than Pratchett’s Colour of Magic. If you’re unfamiliar with Pratchett’s first Discworld novel, it is a great pastiche, but it wears its inspirations on its sleeve. Making Man is a very different beast. Fans of authors such as Pratchett and Adams will find themselves well-catered for here, but the inspirations are well hidden behind the scenery.
John Drake is a champion of people with all their imperfections: he sees the best in people and how they can achieve so much more when they talk together and work together. Read this book and share in a tale of overcoming adversity.
In case you haven’t realised yet, John is a man who likes to take his own path… From prehistory, he turned his attention to the medieval period, and then moved from Europe to the Steppes of Asia.
Cheating Death takes as its back drop the Black Death, which is not well known for its humorous potential. A woman seeking revenge by assassinating the pope doesn’t sound like it should add many laughs and nor does a dubious individual known as the Cutler… Still, it doesn’t take two bibidinous English pilgrims to carry the humour – Drake is far too canny a writer to rely on such obviously comic stalwarts.
Ghengis Khan is also not well known for his sense of humour, but rather creating an immense empire that stretched all the way to middle Europe. Here we find an older despot, arguably entering a second childhood, which has all sorts of opportunities for comedy in itself. But wait! There’s more! You wouldn’t think that the Golden Horde would need a Human Resources Manager would you? But here he is, up to his neck in it, and sent off on a reconnaissance mission as penance. Whilst Drake’s pun game is always strong, there is a particular satisfaction here with respect to the names of the division leaders. I really wouldn’t recommend turning recognition of these into a drinking game.
And then we come to John’s latest book, which from the title sounds like it’s completely about the current lockdown crisis and working from home, but from the cover and the snippets that I’ve seen I can categorically state that it isn’t… Somewhere it has some Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in its DNA, and perhaps a little Only Fools and Horses (as revised by Simon Pegg), but fundamentally it’s pure John Drake, and it will deserve your complete and undivided attention!
John has also taken the incredibly brave step of setting up a proofreading and editing service, Cobblestones. We’ll be adding that to our resources page. John offers a discount for independent authors.
© David Jesson, 2021 (New material. Author picture, book covers etc used with permission of John Drake).