Who is better cut out to write about escaping from Maximum Security and being an outlaw than someone who has lived through it all.

From Harper's cell at Parchman. Recorded by Harper himself using a contraband smartphone.

Roy Harper is incarcerated in Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm, serving 88 years for armed robbery. He is known for his three prison escapes, the subject of a National Geographic Channel documentary.

This is Harper's debut novel, the story of David "Tool" Roney, an outlaw on the run. SHANK is a novel of struggle, adventure and the complexities of justice.

SHANK, the first in a series of two books, will be available on May 24th.

Available from 24 may.

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Roy Harper Q&A:

Q How long did it take to write your two novels?

A The first draft was completed in just under a year. But to turn that material into publishable shape took many more years.

Q How did you write it physically? On paper, on a phone?

A I wrote the entire book with flex pens in longhand. The finished text ran to 1168 pages, originally typed by TV producer Jenny Evans and some of her friends. The final draft was edited (significantly ) on a Galaxy Legend, and submitted to agents and publishing houses from the same smartphone.

Q Did your work get confiscated at any point? Did you have to hide it?

A This story was written under hellish, torturous conditions in a place called Unit 32. I was moved from cell to cell once a week and shaken down each time. The shakedowns were designed to harass more than anything. Often, the guards would just dump my stuff out on the floor like trash, then leave. These were very trying times for me, for everyone housed there. Three of my friends were diagnosed with terminal illnesses. They were all relieved: they all said that they were glad to leave. For me, writing SHANK became my escape. My way out. My relief from Unit 32.

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