JD Kirk, aka Barry Hutchison.
JD Kirk, aka Barry Hutchison.

The Good Books, JD Kirk: ‘If a book hasn’t grabbed me by 100 pages, I ditch it’

Barry Hutchison, aka JD Kirk, on falling in love with Terry Pratchett’s work aged 11, being inspired by Neil Gaiman and why he ditches a book if he’s not grabbed after 100 pages.


The first book I remember reading:

Wagstaffe the Wind-Up Boy by Jan Needle. I had mostly read comics until that point, but my local librarian managed to wean me off The Beano for long enough to press the book into my hands. I probably read it ten times over the next couple of years. It was brilliantly funny but, looking back, shockingly dark in places.

A book I recommend to everyone:

Not one specific book, but an author – Terry Pratchett. I was first introduced to him, aged 11, by my mum’s 50 year old friend. We had nothing whatsoever in common, but quickly discovered a shared love of Pratchett. Everyone I’ve recommended his books to has made a point of thanking me for it. Of course, it’s getting more difficult to spread the word these days, because everyone on Earth has already read at least a handful.

The best three books I have read in the last year:

No More Games by Gordon J. Brown was probably my favourite book I read last year. It’s a Glasgow set crime novel with two kids as the main protagonists, and it’s in equal parts gripping and hilarious. And, for anyone who grew up in the west coast of Scotland in the 70s or 80s, dripping with nostalgia.

42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams. I backed this on Kickstarter and it completely surpassed all my expectations. It’s a collection of materials gathered from 60 boxes of archives belonging to the late Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author. It contains notebooks pages, scripts, jokes he came up with but never used anywhere, and is a fascinating insight into the mind of a creative genius taken too soon.

The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, because it made me realise I’m working FAR too hard.

A book I didn’t finish: 

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar. The first time I read it, I gave up after about twenty-five pages. I then tried again a few months later, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I actually don’t finish quite a lot of books, because I have such limited free time to read. If it hasn’t grabbed me by 100 pages, I ditch it. I don’t really want to name and shame any of them, though, because while the books might not have been right for me, other people might love them.

An author who has inspired me:

Neil Gaiman. I love that he doesn’t get pigeon-holed into writing one specific genre, or for one form of media. He’s basically a genre in and of himself. I hugely admire the way he can move from subject to subject, across books, comics, film and TV, and regardless of the story, you can still get a sense of him working away behind the scenes. Generally, I always feel it’s better for the writer’s hand to be invisible, and for the story to do all the talking, but when the hand belongs to Neil Gaiman, I think it’s allowed.

My favourite place to read:

On a train headed home from Glasgow along the West Highland line, with stags racing along beside me, and the mountains rising up from the mist. And, inevitably, the rain battering against the windows.


JD Kirk is the pen name of Barry Hutchison. Born and raised in Fort William, Barry still lives there with his wife and two children. He has written more than 140 books for children and 15 books for adults. His latest book DCI Logan Where the Pieces Lie can be bought here.


Read more of The Good Books here.

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