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C J Stone

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The Empire of Things
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GONZO MAGAZINE #280: Jon meets Steve Andrews

I first read about Steve Andrews in one of C. J. Stone's books, in which he chronicles his comings and goings within various sub-groupings of what could generally be referred to as the 'Alternative...

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C J Stone Biography

C.J. Stone was born on 16th June 1953 in Birmingham, England, the eldest son of Mary and Eddy Stone. He has two sisters and a brother.

In 1971 he went to Cardiff University to study English Literature but dropped out after two years (it was the hippy thing to do). In 1981 he resumed his studies in Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of the West of England) where he gained a 2:1 in Humanities.

In 1984 he moved to Whitstable, where he has lived ever since. He says he always wanted to be a writer. In 1993, after many unsuccessful attempts to write the great English novel – he wasn’t clever enough - he decided to simplify his approach and to write for magazines and newspapers instead.

Someone lent him a copy of Post Office by Charles Bukowski. C.J. was impressed by the street-level poetry of everyday life he encountered there. He took this as a model and began writing what was to become his Housing Benefit Hill series.

The first was a story called Witch Way Out Of Here, quickly followed by Still Life Behind Drawn Curtains, both written in the early part of 1993. He sent these off to the Guardian Weekend on the off-chance, having read a story about council estate life there.

A few weeks later his A4 stamped addressed envelope returned, but without the manuscripts.

His stories had been accepted!

The first Housing Benefit Hill column appeared in the Guardian Weekend in September 1993 and the column continued for three years, until September 1996. It was a great success, and made the writer temporarily famous. Other columns followed: On The Edge in the Big Issue, Free Party Chronicles in Mixmag. C.J. Stone’s Britain, which replaced Housing Benefit Hill in the Guardian, and which continued till March 1998.

In this time two books were also written: Fierce Dancing and The Last of the Hippies, both published by Faber & Faber.

Further columns have included Written in Stone, for Prediction magazine, Offline in the Big Issue Cymru and On Another Planet in the Whitstable Times. Features, reviews and articles have also appeared in the New Statesman, the Glasgow Herald, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Independent on Sunday and in Saga Magazine, amongst others. There have also been two more books: Housing Benefit Hill published by AK Press and the Trials of Arthur (with Arthur Pendragon) published by Thorsons/Element.

Current columns include Written in Stone in the Whitstable Gazette, and Tales of Ordinary Magic in Kindred Spirit.


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