SB Sweeney was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to restless parents. By the age of seven he had lived in three more continents. He left school at sixteen. After completing his final O-Level exam, he packed a haversack and set off for Glastonbury festival. A few months later, he wound up in London and lied about his age to get a bar job – at Tim Martin's first two pubs in Muswell Hill and Crouch End.
The rest of the eighties were spent squatting and couch dwelling across Hackney, playing in pub bands, going to demos and festivals, criss-crossing the country by thumbing it. By the early nineties, having quit his last band and having lost his job at an art-house cinema, he began voluntary work in order to claim the lunch expenses and get a decent meal.
Charter 88 were based in Clerkenwell where there were plenty of good cafes. Within six months of starting up with them, Sweeney was working, along with a small group of volunteers, on a youth campaign. Eighteen months later he had toured the country three times – with a 'cyberpunk circus against the Criminal Justice Bill' called the Velvet Revolution and with pop band Dodgy.
He also worked with legendary film-maker and musician Melvin Van Peebles to produce a register-to-vote cinema advert. And he helped organise a Radio Caroline campaigning broadcast from the Thames at Canary Wharf.
By the late nineties, however, having watched Tony Blair dismantle what little was left of the Labour movement post-Thatcher, Sweeney became disillusioned with politics. He was persuaded to embark on a project to bring virtual reality to the people of Hackney by an experimental film-maker who had just returned from the Zippy Pronoia Tour of the United States. It failed to attract any finance.
Sweeney spent the noughties working on community media projects in Sheffield and Preston, after which he began his pursuit as a novelist and was accepted for the Oxford University Diploma in Creative Writing.
Facing the Strange is his first novel. It is one of three themed novels documenting the last days of twentieth century UK counter culture and the triumph of a media addicted consumer consensus. He currently lives in Oxford with his partner Miriam and their son Joe.
from Facing the Strange