It's possible that you've heard somewhere down the grapevine that we're going to be publishing Billy and the Devil by Dean Lilleyman. A book that, up until recently was published by Urbane. So, why are we reprinting this book?
Because it's a work of art. Because the timeless story is the essence of a fractured being, of fractured lives that are all too familiar. Because the pace and flow of the narrative is unparralled in contemporary fiction. Because Dean Lilleyman is a real author, with a real heart, a real motive. Because the book won't patronise you, wont force morals down your throat and won't pretend to be something it's not.
I've known Dean for a while now. There are lots of fleeting meetings when you float around the world of literature and most float away with speed, but sometimes the stars align and a beautiful collaboration is inevitable. This book is the work of a brilliant mind. It tackles alcoholism. Dean was an alcoholic. It's not an autobiography. The two things are easy to put together but this is a point worth making. Of course pieces are lifted from the hazed days of drink after drink but it is more than that. Billy starts as a child and ends as what he became.
This version of Billy is going to be uncut, with extra chapters that weren't included in the previous publications and the whole thing has been reworked by Dean to become a more pure and lucid read. The whole thing is going to be available on his website, bit by bit, to read for free too. There are quite a few chapters up already so you can take a look now to see what it's all about. The whole idea of paying to see if you like something is a bit old hat nowadays and publishers need to start really looking at the way the world is changing around them. No one buys an album anymore without having heard anything by the band previously, you go on Bandcamp or YouTube and check 'em out, so why shouldn't it be the same for literature. Yeah the whole novel will be up and if you start getting into it, you'll buy the book but if you want to read it all online, go ahead. We're not going to be the ones to stop people reading something because they're skint. Dean brought this idea up to us and it hit us hard, of course it should be free as well!
Dean describes his life as this:
Born illegitimate in the sixties, I went from a nun’s house to another house of women, who looked after me until I went to live on a farm. On the farm I looked after a litter of runts until the boss took them away to be killed. From then on I played in the nearby woods with make-believe people. When I left school I worked at a trouser-press in a wig of piss, putting creases in old men’s trousers. The boss didn’t like me arriving late because of what happened the night before so I left. Repeat this for the next few jobs I did, which included selling bicycles and driving a fork truck. After a while I gave up and made children instead. This was a happy time. And then I kept falling over so I had a lie down. When I finally got back up, I went and read some books. This again was a happy time. Then I worked as a talker about books. This was happy until it turned out my boss was a machine that couldn’t process naughty words, so once again I left. Regardless, I don’t think I’m difficult. My first book is called Billy and the Devil. It’s about an alcoholic. My second book is called The Gospel According to Johnny Bender, and it’s about lots of things.
The book will be launched alongside Low Light Magazine in the coming months so look out for more details on this and how to get your hands on a copy. Interviews, reviews and articles of and with Dean can be found here. He's currently working on some exciting music projects with his partner in crime, Beth Aveyard, so look out for these in the future too.