by Nathan Bevan
A Welsh author living in Australia has written a book inspired by the mysterious disappearance of Manic Street Preachers star Richie Edwards (pictured).
Ex-pat Dave Franklin, from Newport, has just published his latest and third novel Manic Streets Of Perth, about a girl who becomes fixated on the missing Blackwood guitarist after her own boyfriend vanishes without trace one day.
"The book opens with her working in a petrol station that's held up by a robber brandishing a snake, which bites her on the chin," said the 34-year-old from Caerleon, who had his own run in with a reptile in a promo photo shoot for the book.
"We got the snake in the pic from a pet shop and was as stroppy as hell - it bit me on the hand," he added.
Dave, who holds down a day-job as a journalist in Brisbane, emigrated to sunny Down Under in 1999 to get away from the wet Welsh weather, but admits the life he left behind continues to prove a constant source of inspiration for him.
"Wales has such a strong, gritty personality and the Manics, having lived near them for a number of years, are a big part of my heritage," he added.
And Dave has his own theory on the whereabouts of the elusive Edwards.
"Even now there are those who claim to have spotted him in different places, from Goa to, on the most recent occasion, the Canary Islands.
"But I can't believe someone can be missing that long and still be alive," he said.
[Originally published: Wales on Sunday, 19 March 2006]