"Capitalism = loneliness..."
Fire Horses is the story of Joe Noone, a degenerate and enthusiastic explorer of the gutter, and his confused relationships with his friends and the women in his life. The novel examines England over the last 25 years through the eyes and lens of one disturbed individual, showing the country’s back streets, small towns and sleazy metropolitan underbelly.
Laced with dark humour and angry political asides, Fire Horses is an unflinching lesson in modern history. An epic love story about ‘ordinary’ people, the novel demonstrates that the recording of history is no longer the preserve of the victors.
“Reading Fire Horses is like riding pillion on a motorbike driven by a poet”
– Jonathan Trigell, author, "Boy A"
“As a debut novel it shines, both in the quality of the writing and the insights into mankind and modern history”
– Mike French, “View from Here” magazine (USA)
“Passionate, powerful, poetic – a fine debut from an original talent”
– John King, author, "The Football Factory"
“Piggott’s debut novel is a plausible evocation of seamy ‘80s life viewed through the prism of complicated male friendship. Piggott’s eye for social detail is acute, and his love for his characters shines through”
– John O’Connell, Time Out Magazine
“Fire Horses charges headlong down the tracks, unperturbed by the approaching train. This is where respect to Mark Piggott must extend. This book is an exercise in bold authorship. It is socially-aware yet emotionally complex and fallible, not afraid or ashamed, eager to express itself. The characters could be called 'unfortunates' and many of the events that take place are unsettling but they are also component elements brought together to make the whole appealing. It is honest, with an identifiable soul. The words themselves, from start to finish, are written with a flair and lyrical fluency that make this book difficult to put down and overall a deservedly worthwhile read.”
– Frank Mask website
"Every serious or even semi serious reader deludes themselves with the notion that they “have a book in them”. We read the mundane, run of the mill fiction that populates many of the best seller lists convinced that we could do at least as well ourselves. Then, out of the blue, a book comes along that destroys this fantasy. A book that is so well conceived and crafted that it brings us back to earth with a resounding thud. Our delusions evaporate as they are exposed to true literary ability and talent. Fortunately our perception is not so befuddled that we can fail to recognise excellence when we are in its presence."
- Glasgow Book Group
What is a “fire horse”?
There are sixty years in the lunar cycle; the Chinese have twelve animals to represent their birth signs, and five basic elements. As recently as the Sixties those unfortunates due to be born under the sign of the “fire horse” were aborted in the Far East because when fire horse met fire horse, there was a chance the apocalypse was coming. If you were born, as were the principal characters of this book (and a million others in the UK alone) between 21st January 1966 and 8th February 1967, you’re a fire horse too. Good luck – you might need it…
Sometimes you forget what’s important. Where you’re from, where you are, and what’s next. You go to work or you don’t, you play with your kids or you don’t, you feed the cats, pay the bills, hang out the washing, surf the net, flick the channels, go on holiday, and all the years slide by and then it’s gone and so are you.
Music helps me remember who I am. Tonight I compiled the Fire Horses soundtrack and yet again I was awestruck by the beauty of the people who write those songs and have the balls to sing them and spend years learning instruments and move everyone who listens each in their own way. Give yourselves a pat, boys, girls and inbetweenies: I don’t know how you do it. But I’m glad you do.
Music has always helped me remember events, emotions and thoughts, so when I was writing my first novel, “Fire Horses”, I decided to incorporate my love of certain songs in an unusual way.
If you’ve ever read Fire Horses, you’ll know that the structure is a little odd – it begins in 2007, then the next chapter is 1982, 83, 84; then back to 2007; then 85, 86, 87 and so on, up to 2000, which is when the “back story” ends.
I decided to name each chapter after a song I loved that was originally released in the year it was set. This presented problems, particularly as some years there were dozens of fantastic songs. I also limited myself to one song only by each band (I cheated a little, using both Joy Division and New Order), and only songs by bands from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales (again, there is one exception to this rule – guess who?)
Although within the book, the dates covered are only 1982-2000 (plus the present section, which is set over a week in 2007), I decided to stretch the soundtrack back to the year of Joe’s conception, and also list the nowhere years in Spain (2000-2006).
None of this will make much sense unless you’ve read the book; if you have, or are going to, you might like to consider if the song title reflects the contents of the narrative for that year...
I was mother’s little helper, born on a Waterloo sunset to a brown-eyed girl. There was something in the way she moved that made dad paranoid behind blue eyes, he went to telegram Sam to help her do the strand but she’d died - rock and roll suicide. This is their bohemian rhapsody; the boys are back in town after their holidays in the sun.
Teenage kicks hurt Eton rifles but love will tear us apart; wandering through our ghost town with an uncertain smile, hand in glove beneath the killing moon. All I’ve seen is a pair of brown eyes but this boy can wait; it’s a wonderful life, I’m having a fine time as she bangs the drums and now I’m ready to step on but I don’t need this unfinished sympathy.
Then two worlds collide; sometimes when I look deep in your eyes I swear I can see your soul but now I’m on cigarettes and alcohol, my misery the universal, I’m a street spirit, humming this bittersweet symphony, this is hardcore, I just keep moving, keep on moving and suddenly it’s a beautiful day and I just can’t get you out of my head, you’re just like the sound of the underground. Pass it on, take me out, ‘cos I predict a riot when the sun goes down and I’m burning burning burning like a firehorse...
(With love and thanks to these bands and so many more who kept me not too mad and not too sane through all those long dark years...)