A novelist with a punk ethic: Clive Parker-Sharp tours ConeBoy

A punk pioneer from Crowhurst is hoping to take his latest novel out on the road this year in a touring show of readings and live acoustic music.

Clive Parker-Sharp
Clive Parker-Sharp

Drummer and guitarist Clive Parker-Sharp, who played in bands like The Members, Spizz Energi and Big Country, presents his novel ConeBoy with tunes featuring art-rock collaborator Marshall Star.

“It revolves around a severely disabled child who has been born with an awful disfigurement and is therefore given the derogatory nickname ConeBoy,” says Clive. “He’s born at the tail end of the 1970s so the book covers four decades of his life and how he becomes famous as a result of his condition. And it looks at the knock on to his family, how he’s exploited by his family and how celebrity impacts on their family and everyone who surrounds them.”

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“It’s semi-autobiographical in that I drew from my own life experiences...people, places and experiences in my own life. One of the main characters in the book, the father of the child ConeBoy, is an artist. So they rub up against artists, musicians and industry types.”

And Clive explains that the tale isn’t really about disability, it’s about the media.

“In a way ConeBoy is the only normal one in this kind of maelstrom that surrounds him,” says Clive. “It’s about how he is treated by his family and is treated by the media. In a way it’s kind of a comparison between then and now, what the media was like then and how the newspapers and the music papers and the printing press ruled. Now it’s social media.”

“What I’m doing is I’m comparing the different generations of media within the book and the knock on to the family. The fact is that the child ConeBoy is a sort of rock in this storm that is going off around him.”

“It’s a family story in essence,” he continues. “The child, in a way, is a foil that teases out this family story and I think that’s very prevalent now with what’s happening in the media. The shows that we’re putting on kind of develop that theme. The shows are a sort of Shakespearean tragedy souped up on Jeremy Kyle. They take from that kind of poetic rhythm lead narrative of Shakespeare and draw it into a very kind of mainstream media place. They’re fuel-injected readings from the book with a few songs thrown in.”

So how did the musical aspect to this tour come about?

“As I wrote the book, the songs kind of came about very naturally,” Clive explains. “It was obviously going to be more of a multi-media work so we’re doing a few songs, myself and my collaborator Marshall Star.”

“They’re a kind of acoustic, punk and anthem so they’re drawing on my own musical background and they tease out the work in a way, they colour the work.”

“People will come along and see that it’s a very musical piece,” he says. “There’s a lot of rhythm to the narrative in the work and it takes from the words in the book and it adds to them.”

This isn’t Clive’s first book. His debut novel, The Box, came out in 2012 through Strand Publishing. And based on the true life accounts of Nina Brem-Wilson, the diaries of her Grandfather Thomas, and interviews with Thomas’s sons, this thrilling historical tale of sex, betrayal and zealotry may well get a TV adaptation.

“I wrote the screenplay and got a bit of interest from producers,” Clive says. “Apparently there’s been a bit of interest from Netflix and the kind of usual thing, so we’ll just wait and see what happens. I just read that Martin Scorsese took 20 years to make the Irishman so in a way I’m not holding my breath.”

Novels may seem like an unusual direction for a former punk musician to take but Clive feels that there is a similarity in the way he approaches the different artistic mediums.

“In a way it’s kind of going back to the punk ethic,” he says. “I have an idea, I want to see it through. And the visuals come and the sound comes and the music comes all as part of that thing. I try to be kind of like a...renaissance man I suppose. I’m definitely not just strictly an author.”

“But I would no longer describe myself as a punk,” he admits. “In fact I think punk was over very quickly. You can probably count on one hand the number of months that punk existed.”

But, he argues, punk has had a huge effect on our culture, sense of fashion and music.

“It had a huge effect on me and the kind of subsequent bands that I played with,” he says. “The DIY ethic in having an idea and seeing it through, it made me an outsider, and made me feel that it’s essential not to let go of the concept. That punk ethic runs through everything and it’s absolutely essential.”

“When people come to the shows they will see that kind of visceral element. Even though the show is great fun and it’s all going to be about spoken word and the book, they’re going to have an edge because that is what defines me.”


This interview took place before the current shut-down of arts venues. These are the rescheduled dates but there may be further cancellations.

May 2 – Dc1 Gallery, Eastbourne, 3pm.

May 30 – Dc1 Gallery, Eastbourne, 3pm.

July 10 – Community Centre, Rye, 7.30pm.

July 22 – All Saints Centre, Lewes, 7.30pm.

August 5 – The Venue, St. Paul’s Art Centre, Worthing, 3pm.

August 12 – The Venue, St. Paul’s Art Centre, Worthing, 3pm.

August 22-September 6 – Newhaven Arts Festival, 3pm.

February 2021 – De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-sea, 3pm, Dates TBA.

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well. With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy.

Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.

As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: “Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role.”

But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.

We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.