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Islington author releases first novel after success of two-part autobiography

PUBLISHED: 10:15 14 January 2019

Author Len Ackerman's three books are each set primarily in Islington. Picture: Len Ackerman

Author Len Ackerman's three books are each set primarily in Islington. Picture: Len Ackerman

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No Place For Angels is the debut piece of fiction written by Len Ackerman after his first two books – In Their Footsteps and Now They Are Ghosts – offered a frank look at growing up in Islington throughout the 50’s and 60’s.

In Their Footsteps and Now They Are Ghosts (left and centre) are autobiographical accounts, while No Place For Angels (right) is Ackerman's novel. Picture: Len AckermanIn Their Footsteps and Now They Are Ghosts (left and centre) are autobiographical accounts, while No Place For Angels (right) is Ackerman's novel. Picture: Len Ackerman

Eleven years ago, Mandy Ackerman bought her father, Len, a blank 1,000-page book and encouraged him to start filling it with tales of his past.

“The idea is that you’re supposed to add pictures and write about events year-by-year, but I started to hand-write it all and I was soon telling my life story,” explains Len.

“It was a beautiful book and I couldn’t let it go to waste. I’ve still got it here – there are around seven or eight-hundred pages that I’ve hand-written.”

From these humble, hand-written origins, Len has produced enough material for three books. The first two – In Their Footsteps (2014) and Now They Are Ghosts (2015) – are autobiographical tales of growing up in Islington throughout the 50’s and 60’s. His most recent work – No Place For Angels – was published at the end of 2018 and represents Ackerman’s first attempt at fiction writing.

“Originally, the intention wasn’t to publish my story, but I’ve always had the ambition of being a writer,” he continues.

“Although I changed the names in my first book, it is autobiographical and it caused a fair bit of controversy when it first came out. Some people weren’t amused by the brutal honesty of it. These were experiences that I had been through and I gave an honest opinion.”

Born in Packington Street in 1949, Ackerman has lived in Islington for his entire life, save nine years living in Brixton and a couple spent in Gospel Oak. His first output as a writer offered “raw and honest accounts of my growing up” including tales of how his attempts to gain respect sometimes spilled over in to gang warfare, violence and crime. These are themes that continue in to Ackerman’s debut novel.

“No Place For Angels is a fast-moving crime/thriller set primarily in Islington,” he adds.

“It’s about a prostitute and an artiste who get caught up stealing a van which they think has got tobacco and Viagra in. Actually, it’s full of stolen guns intended for a gangster outfit in Islington.

“It’s set against the backdrop of the 2017 general election and the terrorism of that time. The book has very clever people in there, but they all make mistakes.”

Each of Ackerman’s books have received largely favourable reviews and are available to buy for around £5 on Amazon.

Reflecting on the enthusiastic response his books have received, the 69-year-old says he is “pretty amazed.”

“After the first two, I missed the writing and had the idea for No Place For Angels.

“The slogan I use for my books is ‘it’s not for bedtime reading, these won’t send you to sleep’ and I’m currently working on my next one. If Mandy hadn’t bought me that book in the first place, none of these would ever have been written.”

All three of Len Ackerman’s books are out now and are available here.

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