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All the best: Author John Marley on his favourite things

Author John Marley
Author John Marley

By Kerry McKittrick

The 49-year-old author and TV producer, originally from Belfast, now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Helen-Jane. His debut novel, Standstill, under then name JA Marley, has just been launched.

My best moment

The first thing that comes into my head is holding a proof copy of my book for the first time. I remember thinking 'oh my God. I've written a book'. Holding the actual object in my hand and seeing my name on the cover was an incredible feeling.

My best song

While it depends on my mood and the time of day, there are two which I love. A beautiful song called Let's Go Out Tonight by the Blue Nile. The singer isn't the best, but he does have a wonderful emotion-laden voice. I'm also a huge fan of Bap Kennedy, who is sadly not well at the moment. I enjoy many of his songs, but if I had to choose just one it would be Celtic Sea.

My best way to relax

A book, a bourbon (whiskey) and a bath. If I'm reading a good book on a winter's day then I'll take it into the bath with a shot of good bourbon.

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My best job

Being an author is what I do almost full-time now and it's unbelievable. I started work as a milkman in west Belfast which gave me the discipline to get out of my scratcher early in the morning and in all weathers. I was also a TV producer and spent a few years working on the BBC's Film programme with Barry Norman, so I got to visit the Oscars, Cannes and meet some Hollywood stars.

My best advice

A great friend is an executive producer called Mark Wells. Once when we were in a particularly stressful situation on a TV show he looked me in the eye and told me never to lose my nerve. What I learned from that was to trust my gut instincts and things usually work out right.

My best movie

Blade Runner which I saw at the ABC Cinema in Belfast years ago. I was going to see Superman II, but we couldn't get in and ended up seeing that.

My best gift

My wife surprised me with a trip to Montana - we went to ride horses on a real ranch. It turns out that I've always been a closet cowboy. We got to drive cattle on horseback and do real work. It was amazing and we have been back a couple of times since.

My best achievement

Being from such a small corner of Belfast yet finding myself at the Oscars meeting George Clooney and being on TV.

My best buy

I bought a flight to Vegas 11 years ago - and met my future wife on the plane. We had to change our flights in Chicago so I had to speak to her then or I probably wouldn't have seen her again.

My best book

It would have to be Burning Angel by the prolific American author James Lee Burke. He often features a character called Dave Robicheaux in his novels and manages to elevate crime fiction to an art form. I wish that I could write as well as he does - even if it was just one sentence.

Belfast Telegraph


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