Born in Liverpool, Brian Williams grew up in a small copper-mining community in Zambia. Describing himself as a class clown and inveterate daydreamer, Brian also became obsessed with all things subterranean. A tour of the local shafts and tunnels in an underground pit left a lasting impression, as did a huge excavation in a school-friend’s garden which his father (a miner) helped him to dig.
Brian and his family then moved back to Liverpool in the seventies, living close to the Edge Hill district of the city where there is an extensive network of tunnels and chambers dug by a nineteenth-century local businessman and philanthropist, Joseph Williamson. Brian’s knowledge of these tunnels came together with Roderick’s concept for the character of Will Burrows, and acted as the catalyst for Tunnels.
Brian began writing in earnest in his early teens, even founding and editing a literary magazine before moving to London for university. However it would take many years before he and Roderick actually began to cooperate on their writing. Roderick had moved into the high-flying world of the City, while Brian remained dedicated to his art after he left university, holding frequent exhibitions where the two would catch up.
Over the years Brian gravitated away from painting, becoming more involved in installations, performances and experimental film. This also took him into mainstream film and television, most notably with his friend, Charlie Higson, on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and also with Alex Cox as art director on one of his films, in which Brian also made a brief appearance as a mortuary attendant (minus his eyebrows).
As Roderick’s career in the city came to an abrupt halt, their writing partnership began. Both would discuss an idea for a scene or a chapter, often late at night at the kitchen table in Roderick’s house, and then Roderick would run off a first draft. Brian would take this away and revise sections in longhand as he thought necessary, also providing illustrations along the way. The copy would then be re-edited by Roderick as he input it back into the computer, and another version produced for Brian to evaluate – this process of crossing from computer to hard copy and back again could often take weeks until both contributors were satisfied with the end result.
Since the release of Tunnels, Brian continues to live in East London and is working on a number of other literary projects as well as his films.