Rod Duncan

Rod Duncan



Rod Duncan writes novels, screenplays and non-fiction. His novel Backlash was shortlisted for the John Creasy Memorial prize for the best debut crime novel of 2003.

Rod was born in Wales. Identified as dyslexic at the age of eight, he clawed his way through the education system, avoiding writing as far as possible. It was the invention of the word processor that enabled him to make peace with the written word and develop his storytelling skills. Rod describes himself as endlessly curious and compulsively creative.

Creative Work

From Backlash

It began with a stop and search. That’s what they tell me. A couple of Asian lads outside the Waterfields Youth Club turned out to be carrying knives. So you’ve got two uniforms trying to disarm a couple of turban-wearing seventeen year-olds. The youths don’t cooperate, of course. And they’re still warm from the evening’s karate class.

It gets ugly after that. Pepper spray. Handcuffs. The shouting draws in every hard case from the terraced streets around. By the time a Support Unit arrives, our boys in blue are separated from their patrol car and all but surrounded. They’re glad when the van comes down the street to rescue them. Doubly glad that it’s got a metal grille to shield the windscreen from the flying bottles.

You know how it is with a crowd like that on an August night. People do stuff they would never try if they were on their own. One person starts rocking the empty patrol car, then there are two, then twenty. Then the car’s on its roof and someone’s messing around with a cigarette lighter. Whoomf! You’ve got yourself a riot.

A car fire gives you two good explosions at least. That’s my experience. One when the petrol in the engine goes up. The next, usually bigger, when the fuel tank blows. That brings in the fire brigade and more people to fill out the crowd.


When I wrote the opening lines of the novel Backlash, I had little sense of the story I was embarking on. At times I felt more like its first reader than its author.

The first problem arose when I realised it was being narrated by someone of a different gender, skin colour and background to myself. In retrospect, I would come to understand that the story came from a fermentation of my experiences living in one of the most ethnically mixed areas of Leicester, itself perhaps the most richly-mixed city in Europe.

But at the time I felt torn. The novel would surely be viewed as trespass. I was writing about gender issues and multicultural society. The story touched on deep and sometimes divisive questions about which others would feel a sense of prior ownership.

Such was the artesian pressure of the writing process, I could not stop. My anxiety grew as I approached the end. But when I wrote the final page, I knew it was complete, not just as a story but as a statement. It contained all the things I wanted to say. If anyone read the whole book and still felt aggrieved, I did not believe that I would not need to apologise. Such was the relief that I wept.



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