Imagine The Brothers Grimm were not two 19th century German siblings, but one middle aged man from a North East fishing village.
Fishermen’s Tales is the self-published debut novel from Peter Kennedy. Deep in the shadowed past a town is beset by plague. Amidst the invidious creep of distrust, disease and death a mysterious stranger breaks quarantine and the tight knit community begins to unravel.
Born and raised in Hartlepool Peter moved to London 20 years ago to write. An ex-journalist, now and English teacher, he spent seven years writing Fishermen’s Tales.
“When I was a kid me mam told me that in the 17th century, when the plague was moving up country, the fishermen, in their wisdom, decided that the best way to stave off the pestilence was to throw fishing nets across the archway leading onto the Headland.
“I imagined a scenario in which that improbable mythology could possibly be true. That became chapter one Behind the Net Curtain and the genesis for this collection. I created other stories based on rumours from my family, anecdotes I heard in pubs and others I just made up. It’s set in a north east fishing village but I also like to think these stories are universal – this is any town where people are struggling against the odds.”
Peter tried the traditional route, sending chapters off to agents, but when a workmate suggested self-publishing he realised it was the only possible path for this home spun project.
“Fishermen’s Tales is a DIY project, bath-tub gin for the working classes, hand-turned in candle lit basements and it has to emerge from the grass roots and spread organically.
“This is a literature that came from the streets, passed on by the people word of mouth - one of my objectives when I was writing it was that me mam would be able to read it. I’m trying to reclaim and romanticise the working class heritage that I came from. 200 years ago these stories would have been told around campfires."
Peter launched his book five years ago on the banks of the Thames and on a Hartlepool beach. He has performed in woodlands and churchyards, watermills and ex-army barracks and plans to return to the North East next year and hopefully tour it’s beaches, performing at Whitby, Staithes, Tynemouth and maybe the rest of the UK.
“I want to take readings out of the traditional venues and into churchyards, derelict building, beaches – there’s no reason why readings shouldn’t create the same energy and sense of occasion as musical gigs. Remember when poetry was the new rock n roll? Well, spoken word is the new urban exploring!”