Some stuff about me
Updated: Dec 29, 2020
I was born at a very young age in Chelmsford, Essex. Thanks to a rhesus issue, the hospital was on stand-by for a ‘blue baby’. Being contrary from the start, I arrived red and squalling, with wrinkles and had a full head of hair.
I’ve changed a bit over the years, but I’ve kept the hair, and the wrinkles are slowly making a come-back.
When I was eight or nine, I begged for a toy typewriter. Writing was my dream. The Petite was all the rage. It came with a neat little case and was the must-have item for a budding author. When my birthday arrived, the gift wasn’t quite the right shape or size, but money was tight, and my expectations had not been high.
Inside the package I discovered an Underwood – a hulk of a machine that had seen better days, but still sported gold-coloured trim against the black. I thumped a key. A metal arm swung onto a ribbon, transferring an imprint onto paper in slightly smudgy ink. The end of a line brought forth a satisfying ping, and the roller housing took some welly to shift. I was enchanted. This was a serious writing machine.
I produced endless stories on it. Fortunately, none have survived, not even the scripts for Star Trek in which I killed off Captain Kirk in almost every episode. Even then, I had a taste for murder but perhaps I grew to understand the concept of a series a little better. Then I read Game of Thrones and realised no character is ever safe.
When the Underwood eventually expired, I switched from manual to electric. It required less effort to move the keys, but I confess I still don’t touch-type properly. I use random fingers (mostly my own) and ever since it was invented, I bless the autocrat.
My early efforts were feeble, with flabby prose not fit to see the light of day. There was a fantastic Peanuts cartoon that showed Snoopy writing himself a rejection letter. His manuscript remained at his side, unsubmitted. This saved time and postage and avoided disappointment. It was a route I followed. I seldom let anyone read anything.
My teenage output veered towards the horror. One of the stories concerned a wasp squashed by an irritated picnic guest. As it died, it transmitted an alarm call to its nest, and the swarm responded, stinging the “murderer” to death. Thank you, Stephen King – your books had an effect. As did Agatha Christie, not only for the wasp (Death in the Clouds) but for her wonderful puzzles and brilliant detectives. Both of these authors are still among my many favourites.
My love of the gothic ghost may have stemmed from where I grew up. Colchester has a bloody history. Burned ‘witches’ haunt the castle dungeons; a dead Cavalier walks near the bullet-scarred Siege House, and some say the screams of Boudicca’s butchered Romans can be heard on moonless nights.
Fortunately, even with ghosts there are joyous moments: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) with the cheeky Kenneth Cope; Whoopi Goldberg faced with Patrick Swayze’s Ghost; the wonderful character of Death in Pratchett’s Discworld series. I lightened up a bit and had a lot of fun, in writing and in life.
Over the years I’ve lived in London and its surrounds, mainly working at other things to make a living, but never quite giving up on the writing dream. Occasionally my words have escaped into the wider world. A story now and then found a home, and I won a writing competition which was cheering but life got in the way of writing and I let it.
Some writers are best with age, like wine or cheese. Perhaps I needed to mature before I found the nerve to let wonderful, supportive people look at my scribblings. It’s taken me far too long to understand the most important element of good writing is the reader.
A darn good writing course helped me enormously. I learned a bit about character, point-of-view and plot. Turns out all that jazz really is important, as is editing and practicing the craft.
Now I live back in my home county, a short walk from the sea, and my crime novel, Sleeping Dogs, is being sent out into the world.
The lovely folk at Hobeck Books have made my dream come true.
I still can’t quite believe it.