Books, writing, reading and words. I love them; do you?

About

This is where I do my work, overlooking the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

This is where I work, overlooking the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

I’m both self-published and fortunate enough to be published by a superb independent publisher: Fantastic Books Publishing.  You’ll find our collaborations on their site as well as on my ‘Published Work’ page here. There is also a group run by and for the writers for Fantastic Books Publishing, where you can discover other great new writing. This link will take you to that page. 

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I’ve been writing for a long time, and reading even longer. As a child – a few centuries ago – I was raised in a household without TV. This meant I entertained myself, my brother, sister, and friends, with invented stories that we’d then act out in our games. I also read a good deal. By the age of eleven I’d exhausted the local children’s library and approached the formidable librarian, Hilda, who ran the place, to ask if I might now borrow books from the adult section, normally available only at age 14. She glared down at me but, knowing I always looked after books, allowed me a trial period. I was to select one book at a time and pass it to her for approval. It says something about this guardian of knowledge and imagination that she allowed my initial choice without demur. That first book? All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. For those unfamiliar with this World War 1 classic, it contains explicit descriptions of the fighting, association with prostitutes, and a fair degree of the foul language used by soldiers. Having got that book through her censor’s filter, I felt I could probably read anything I wanted to. And so it turned out.

During my secondary education, I was fortunate enough to be taught English by a delightful Irish lady called Stella Kelsall. A chain-smoking, decorative woman with a penchant for low-cut blouses; her habit of leaning over the desk when talking to teenage boys was no doubt partly responsible for my developing an interest in language as a means of self-expression. I won the Redfern Cup at fourteen, an award for that year’s best story (we referred to these pieces of writing as ‘compositions’). The story was a piece of fictionalised tension-filled mystery based on an event that happened when on a school trip. Though I didn’t know it at the time, that was my first step on the road to becoming a writer.

As a teenager, I entertained my younger brother with stories made up on the hoof, ostensibly as a way of getting him to sleep. However, the frequent laughter caused Mum to call up to remind me I was supposed to be calming rather than exciting him. The one drawback to telling tales without preparation turned out to be his frequent requests for me to repeat the previous night’s story. I had to ask him to remind me and I’d then attempt a retelling of the tale, though how close it was to the original is anybody’s guess! It turned out to be a great apprenticeship for my later writing of fiction.

I suffer under the serious disadvantage for a writer of having had a fairly idyllic childhood. My parents loved me. I had siblings who were also friends. I spent a magical couple of years living on the clifftop in a converted railway wagon, still on its wheels, and walked to school along the beach. But later life sort of made up for that initial blessing. My father died 3 weeks before I was born. My mother, an artist, remarried when I was 5 years old but was killed in a road accident 2 days after my 16th birthday. A loss that deeply affected the whole family. My step-father, not responsible for the crash, was driving and never fully recovered from that incident, though he went on to marry his secretary some years later. My mother’s death seriously affected my school exams, taken just a couple of weeks after the event.

As a result, I joined the Royal Air Force, which was a big mistake. However, the physical training, which included a voluntary venture into boxing and rugby, increased my size and fitness. I left at 19 and began a succession of jobs in various roles. I also married my first wife, who had been my girlfriend when at school. 18 years of that marriage ended after constant and unjustified accusations of infidelity became too much to bear: I’ve loved 2 women and both of them I married.

My first writing successes were in the form of illustrated articles for the British photographic press but my initial fiction success was a radio play, broadcast on the national radio programme; BBC Radio 4. Since then, I’ve published novels, short stories, a novella and and a memoir about my 10 years with ME/CFS. (You can find a list of all my published work by clicking this link). I’m fully recovered from that dreadful condition and ran in the Great North Run in September 2015; a half marathon I used as a means of raising money for the charity that helped me through the illness.

I’m now happily married to my darling Valerie, who I met on a training course (Managing Change!). We have a lovely daughter, Kate, who is a bit of a wanderer. She’s worked here in UK and on the Greek island of Thassos, and, as I write this, is currently working in Victoria, Australia.

So, you know a bit about me now. I hope you’ll enjoy my site and my books. I write to entertain and because I’m compelled by some inner voice to put words on paper and tell stories in the tradition that’s been with humankind ever since we first sat around those fires in the mouths of our caves. Enjoy. We really do come this way but once and it behoves us to make the experience the best it can be for ourselves and for those we come into contact with.

 

 

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