Jo Whiley gives backing to new novel set in Northampton

Derrick Thompson and Bill Martin, authors of Last Night
Derrick Thompson and Bill Martin, authors of Last Night

The music scene in 1960s’ Northampton was a lively one, even boasting a visit by The Beatles, who played at the old ABC Cinema in Abington Square.

And it is this vibrant time of flower power, mini-skirts, psychedelia and iconic bands, which has formed the setting of a new novel by two Northamptonshire-born authors.

Retired former school friends, Bill Martin and Derrick Thompson, have joined forces to write their first novel, entitled Last Night, under the pen name of Martin Thompson.

Set in Northampton in August 1963, the story involves five musicians and two of their girlfriends, whose lives are blown off course by one night of “fighting and loving”.

Derrick explained: “The original concept, back in late 2009, was to produce a play, possibly a musical.

“It would be based on two days in the life of seven teenagers (five members of a beat group and two of their girlfriends). We soon dropped the idea and changed it to a novel, but with the same storyline.

“Halfway through the writing we realised that we also needed to cover the intervening 47 years. It is basically about seven teenagers and how each of them is affected by their upbringing, by their family and by each other. It is about following your dream and breaking free. It is about temptation. It is about institutional constraints versus independent actions. It is about family life in the 1960s and growing up.”

Despite being a new book, Last Night has already attracted a host of impressive endorsements, including those from celebrated Northampton writer, Alan Moore, as well as county-born Radio 2 presenter, Jo Whiley.

This is the second time Bill and Derrick have written together, having also penned a factual book called Have guitars... Will Travel, which focused on the beat music scene in Northampton between 1957 and 1966.

Bill said: “What we have done in Last Night is primarily fictitious, but it is inspired by the lifestyle of 1963, the music and the musicians.

“It is a dramatic novel but it is also about social history. It is about relationships and the characters behind those relationships.”

A book launch and signing, including live music, will be held at Waterstones in Abington Street this Saturday between 11am–3pm. A book signing will also take place at the same time on October 27 at Waterstones in Kettering. The book costs £7.99 and an e-book will be launched in November.