Since I last spoke with the author Nina Antonia, she’s been working on a new project with Peter Doherty. The book, Exiled in Paradise, is based on Nina’s first hand observations of Doherty over the last seven years and will also draw from his extensive diaries which she has been given full access to and which, from what I have seen, look like works of art in their own right, filled with ideas, doodles, snatches of lyrics and more than a few inkblots.
Nina agreed to answer some questions on the project and I’ve included a link at the bottom of the page for anybody who might be interested in finding out more.
You’ve already written biographies of Johnny Thunders, the New York Dolls, Peter Perrett of the Only Ones and Brett Smiley, why now choose Peter Doherty?
It’s important for me to have met the people I write about and to be able draw from first hand experiences, otherwise how can you get to understand the person and what moves them? Ironically, I got some flack on a pro-Thunders page about this project. Now Thunders and Doherty are two very different characters, but what people are forgetting is that back in the day, Johnny T was even more controversial than Doherty.
You’ve never wanted to write about ‘safe’ comfortable subjects, have you?
I’m interested in people that figuratively speaking throw ‘spanners’ at society and what motivates them to do so. Yes, Peter has enjoyed mainstream success whilst poor Johnny is really peaking now in terms of popularity more than twenty years after his death, which he anticipated. What are we to do, shy away from writing about talented artistes who have drug issues? The history of classic rock n’ roll is littered with damaged icons. We also forget now, what a furore the New York Dolls generated in the early 1970’s, they really messed with traditional beliefs about machismo and paid the price for their louche antics. So in answer to your question, I don’t see writing as taking the easy way out……. I’ve always worked with subjects who some might construe as the grit in the establishment’s eye. Peter is the boy who should have been golden, who had everything in place to the take the world…… what happened?
I’ve just read Alan McGee’s autobiography and he claims Doherty still has the potential to be the biggest star in the world if he cleaned himself up. But that doesn’t seem to interest him, does it – being the biggest star in the world I mean rather than quitting drugs?
I’m not sure that Peter does want to be the biggest star in the world; that might be more to do with Alan McGee’s perception. Peter has created his own niche as a musician and artist and it’s admirable that he wants to remain true to his vision rather than becoming a corporate persona which is what mega-stardom is about. It would appear that he has found a level of success that he is comfortable with and that’s what matters; besides which he’s not someone that is easily contained, which is what mega-stardom is all about. As for the drugs, people only stop using when they are ready and that is their decision alone to make, no matter how frustrating or worrying the situation may be for those around them.
How are you finding the crowd-funding route to bringing out books?
Crowd-funding isn’t the easiest route but the company who are supporting the project ‘Unbound’ are the best at what they do. They have also worked with James Endicott, Simon Napier Bell, and Julie Burchill amongst others. The pledge ethos is all about creating awareness of the project but there is a danger of people not realising that there is a deadline, which is March, so rather than simply ‘liking’ the book idea and hoping to buy a copy further down the line, time is of the essence.
Didn’t Danny Garcia’s Johnny Thunders documentary that you’re appearing gain its funding in a similar way?
Danny’s much anticipated documentary ‘Looking For Johnny’ was indeed crowd-funded and I’m happy to say that it worked wonderfully well. Thunders is much loved and greatly missed.
It’s coming out shortly, isn’t it?
I believe that the documentary should be on general release by early Spring, if not sooner.
Speaking of which, any news on the Johnny Thunders film that we discussed last time around?
In regards to the as yet untitled feature film, LAMF Productions are still busily working away, finalising the script, as per the director, Alex Soskin’s request. By the end of January, I’m hoping that casting can commence, which should be really exciting.
And finally, why should people pledge towards your book? It’s not just a copy of the book that they would get in return for their money is it?
People should pledge on the Peter book because it’s a unique portrayal of a gifted yet controversial artiste, that draws from his own journals and my observations. It’s also about divine folly and fractured dreams. He’s probably one of the most complex people I’ve ever met. Peter Doherty provokes extreme reactions in people, why? and why does he court the beast? There’s a fine line between high society and the nether-world. Plus, in glossy hard-back format, it will also be a visual treat and everyone who pledges gets their name listed in the book.
Thanks for taking the time to talk, Nina and good luck with the book and the film!
For more information and to pledge for a copy of ‘Exiled in Paradise’ by Nina Antonia With Peter Doherty follow the video links.
And here’s Nothing Comes to Nothing from the 2013 Babyshambles album Sequel to the Prequel: