The photo is me, lucky enough to be sitting by one of my favourite spots in the world at Milford Sound, New Zealand.
Why am I showing you this holiday snap? Well, because I went on that holiday as a full-time primary school teacher and came back as a former one. I had decided to have a crack at being an author.
It was an expensive holiday in more ways than one...
I am a few years into it now – a self-published sci-fi trilogy, a comedy spy book ready to go, plus 3 or 4 other books at different stages, are the fruits of my labours. I say labours but they’re hardly that. It’s a pleasure, and a privilege, to write. I am less keen on some of the other roles connected to being a published author, which might well explain why I’ve not yet ended up on Graham Norton’s sofa chatting about my latest blockbuster novel. Like any small business, you have to be your own I.T. consultant, accountant and marketing expert, all rolled into one. I’m none of those things, but I do try, and I’m learning as I go.
A writing career was never something I had imagined I would have. Yet here I am, trying to make good fist of it. I like to be kept busy and it does that. If I’m not writing then I’m editing or wearing one of my other author-connected hats. There is always something to do, yet nothing I’m pressurised to do. That could be a problem if I weren’t motivated. Fortunately, I am.
I think what drives me on is not so much the fame and fortune that awaits (ahem!), but the prospect that it would be nice to be relatively successful in something creative.
We all have creativity inside – it just took 53 years for mine to materialise. Children, unhindered by social constraints, are especially creative. I teach in primary schools and have also been on author visits to quite a few. The message I try to get across to children about writing is that, whatever they write, they can almost guarantee that no one would have written the same thing before in the same way. They have an opportunity to produce something totally original – what can be more creative than that? And if writing’s not their creative bag, then I encourage them to find something else that is. Don’t wait till you are over 50 to explore it. Having said that, it’s never too late to start.
I loved fantasy and sci-fi when younger, and I still do. The Quarton trilogy came from an idea that came to me while I was in New Zealand looking at a lake with a bridge. There was then a jump in my head from bridges on a lake to bridges to another world (not an original jump – think Thor and Asgard, amongst others) and the reincarnation twist popped into my head about the same time. Quarton: The Bridge was born – The Coding and The Payback followed. I had no idea when I started writing where it would end up, but I’m pleased with where it has.
I have more sci-fi in the pipeline – for even younger readers – and I’m looking forward to publishing my comedy book – Maggie Matheson: Back in Service – about an 80 year old granny who is recruited back into the Spy Service. As far removed from quartons and reincarnation as you can get.
Like a lot of authors, I’ve taken to blogging. They are mainly light-hearted ones about family or situations I’ve connected with. Essex Radio was good enough to let me read some of them out (yes, to an audience, not just quietly to myself!). I also write 100 word stories for a local community station – Colne Radio. If you want to hone your editing skills, try writing stories in 100 words or less. It’s great discipline.
So, that’s a little about how and why I get to do something I love. I’ve shared some of my experiences about being a writer in my Once Upon a Page page. Do click over to there when you can.
If you’ve got this far and want to know anything else about me, here are a few highlights in bullet point format to give your brain, and mine, a break from prose.
I love sport – football, cricket, rugby mainly. Professional sportsperson is what I wanted to be when I was young, and, alas, was never going to be. (You have to be very good at it - I was quite disappointed when I realised I wasn’t).
I’m married with two kids who are grown up (so they say, anyway).
I used to be a VAT officer. I got asked by a business owner whose books I was checking whether I had always wanted to be a VAT officer. I hadn’t – and wasn’t for a lot longer after that.
Reading preferences – anything that makes me think. I loved The Time Traveller’s Wife. The concept was so original and it was beautifully written. Desert Island books? Definitely The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I’d also be quite happy taking everything written by Terry Pratchett because a) what he wrote was brilliant and hilarious and b) he wrote a lot of it.
The Paddington Bear books were the first proper ones I can remember reading. I also loved comics. Dandy, Beano and Whizzer & Chips – classic comics and they got me hooked on reading.
Biggest claim to fame? Having a physio session in the Everton FC dressing room with Jeff Stelling (Sky Sports presenter) whilst chatting to some of the Everton footballing legends. We were in the middle of walking 15 consecutive marathons for charity. (I stopped at 10 to prevent getting sepsis – Jeff, who is a few older than me – did the lot!)
I’ve lived in Colchester in the UK for most of my life. Also in Belgium for a year. Is that interesting? No? Well, wait for the last blockbuster bullet point!
I can no longer read labels on tins without glasses. I find that incredibly annoying.
If you want to find out more about me, ask my wife.
Actually... best not.