IT'S a story of Winchester - but not quite as we know it.

Local author Oliver Gray has published his first novel, Zander, a crime story about an ageing musician who visits the city.

Mr Gray, of Twyford, said the time felt right to have a go at writing fiction and he wanted to write about what he knew - music in Winchester.

He said: “I've reached an age where I thought I should do it now while I still could but I didn't have a subject. So I consulted a friend of mine who is a successful writer, Willy Vlautin, who told me to write about what I know.

“I thought a novel about teaching French would not be very exciting and I don't know much about anything else so it had to be a book about music in Winchester.”

A former languages teacher at Henry Beaufort Secondary School for 20 years, Mr Gray now writes educational textbooks but has also published a series of non-fiction books, including a history of The Joiners Arms in Southampton.

He is also well-known on the city music circuit as his hobby is promoting bands, setting up numerous gigs at The Railway.

Mr Gray added: “I don't think there have been many musical crime stories set in Winchester so I thought it would be an original thing to do.”

His novel is set in an alternative Winchester where an old American rocker, Corey Zander, plays the first date of his UK tour at 'The Station', but it all goes horribly wrong.

He added he was inspired by fellow Hampshire author Graham Hurley, who sets his crime novels in Portsmouth.

The book comes out today (August 1), publiched by Hyde-based Sarsen Press, and is available at bookshops across Winchester for £9.99. It will also be released electronically.

A book launch takes place at Waterstones in the High Street on August 8 at 7pm, featuring music from Benjamin Folke Thomas.