AN ENGLISH author living in Boston hopes to put Solihull on the map with his new novel.
Silhillian born Michael Preston has lived most of his life in and around the borough.
And his book The Silver Skeleton pays homage to the area with landmarks from The Odeon in Birmimgham to Belle Italia in Touchwood cropping up throughout the novel.
The mystery crime novel begins when a notorious bully is kicked unconscious by four assailants who flee in fear they may have killed him.
The story ties together a past recognisable to those who grew up in the 80s with references to social movements, and a journey encompassing past and present in the borough.
Michael, who used to be a Solihull journalist, said: “I drew on a lot of personal experiences and emotions to develop the characters and the story. The main teens who commit a murder get into some mischief, which is a mirror of some things I did with friends as a teenager.
“One of the main characters reveals his sexuality, which these days is accepted, but in the eighties, it wasn’t as easy for people to come out without being persecuted in many cases.
“That creates some issues among his friends, just as it did around that age when a friend of mine told us he was gay. Times were very different thirty years ago and people were fairly ignorant about issues such as AIDS and openly made jokes about such matters. I explore that a little in the book.”
Michael who lived most of his younger years in Hall Green, has strong ties with the town where he attended school, spent time with friends and later worked.
And ‘old-school’ residents will be treated to several doses of nostalgia with mention of Solihull’s long-gone High Street cinema and Rosie O’Brien’s club where Michael used to meet friends.
The author himself penned part of the book sitting in a Touchwood’s Belle Italia, using it for a scene where the murder suspects and a police detective have a meeting.
The Silhillian spent years as a journalist reporting on the the town’s ice hockey team the Solihull Barons, before he pursued a career as a football correspondent.
But after 15 years as a sports public relations consultant in his wife’s hometown of Boston, the debut-author has finally realised his dreams.
“I always wanted to write a book, but a non-fiction sports book. I considered a few ideas, but for some reason I find fiction much easier to write.
Michael who now works for the National Football League in America said he really missed good fish and chips, which appears as a re-occurring motif throughout the novel.
“I miss the Englishness of home, which you never really notice until you move overseas.
“I’ve been in the US 15 years now, but I miss mainly friends and family who are still in Solihull and other places nearby. I come home twice a year to see people, so they probably feel like I never really left!”
The debut author is already working on the sequel and hopes to be finished in a year’s time.
Visit https://michaelprestonbooks.com for more information on Michael and to buy a copy of the book.