We're sat on the lawn outside the Civic Centre and author Simon Williams is laughing his head off at his books that, basically, rip up the rules of literature and just get on with proper Salford stories for proper Salford people.
"No-one ever writes like that, do they?" he smiles "I tried to create the books for an easy read because you can read some books and they're just long and laborious, whereas I try to keep the flow on the go. That's why I think they've took off in Salford. If you write a book in Salford, it's for the Salford people. That's my theory on it."
Williams, who has only been writing for just over a year, tells his tales like he's down the pub with a load of mates around the table...tales of a stolen Lowry...of buying Buile Hill Mansion...of paralytic Salford girls on the pull in Spain... and a building crew nicking slates from the Magistrates Court. The loveable rogue at the centre of the action is Williams himself.
"Yeah, well, if you can't give yourself a good part who will?" he grins.
Williams, the character, is a bargain bucket Salford Prince Charming, chancing, swaggering and smooth talking his way through three novels so far. He goes for loose women, various scams and a hilariously extreme vendetta with an officer from Greater Manchester Police which winds its way from Langworthy to Malaga and back.
En route, there's a stretch in `Gameways' prison, a conviction that `Hazel Mears' MP fancies him, and a real conviction after invading the Anfield pitch to celebrate with Robin Van Persie...while on a date with his son's teacher.
In the background are old Salford faces and places, dialogue placing Salford Council as "a bunch of pillocks that don't know what they're doing", and a gang of mates who stick by each other through thick, thin and police interrogations.
And at the centre is an anti-love story with Shazza, who, after Williams, takes a liking to the hapless cop at the centre of the Salford scally's revenge ploys. Indeed, the stories are told in the first person through Shazza's eyes, which takes the reader a bit of getting used to but shines a light on the sexist, selfish, giant ego-ed side of Williams.
"You just don't expect a bloke to write through a woman's eyes" the real Williams decides "but it shows up that he's a bit of a sad character really."
A sad character with a good heart, who always gets his comeuppance before somehow landing on his feet. In the third, shorter, novel, when Williams gets loads of money from the sale of the dodgy Lowry painting, he makes a grand gesture for the people of Salford – one that indirectly topples the City Mayor, and leaves readers hanging, waiting for the next instalment...
Simon Williams' novels are raw and ready, and totally tapped into the Salford psyche that a zillion regeneration projects are trying to delete. Vital.
The three Simon Williams novels are...
Hidden Depths and Wrong Impressions
Hidden Depths: Expect the Unexpected
Hidden Depths: Payback Time
All available from Amazon and Kindle – click here
£1 from every copy of Payback Time also goes to St Ann's Hospice where you can also buy the book.