What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I wrote through necessity. To occupy my mind whilst being out of work as a result of a road traffic accident in 2006. I never had a wish to do that before, but during those dark days, almost four years, of anxiety and depression, when the thoughts of taking my life were so prominent, I turned to writing to distract those thoughts. It worked; I’m still here.
I have no academic qualifications, in regards to writing. I left grammar school at the age of sixteen, in the mid-sixties, and gained all my education in the outside world.
I was, at first, a police cadet then a fully-fledged policeman. During my time in the police force, I was the first to arrive at three sudden deaths. One a natural death, an elderly lady who died in her bed. The second, the suicide of a traffic warden, who slit his wrists and bleed to death, and the third a crime of passion – a young soldier who shot his adulterous wife with both barrels of a shotgun.
On leaving, I bought a mini-cab business in the heart of what could well be described as the gangland centre of South London, Bermondsey. I knew the Richardson brothers, Frankie Fraser and others of that calling. I had contact with people who knew the Kray twins. They were behind a similar business, but luckily, not in direct competition to me, the other end of Rotherhithe Tunnel. I sold that business and moved into the pub trade in Kent. Whilst there I helped the regional crime squad arrest, close down and prosecute one of the biggest drug smuggling operations around in those days. I was also, during this period, arrested myself, for attempted murder. Favours were pooled, whispers were made and eventually, I had to plead guilty to a lesser charge. I was given an absolute discharge, exonerated in other words. I am now a licensed London taxi driver, and meet a wide variety of people.
I think all these things help in inspiration of a kind that work together in assisting my writing.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I don’t write now. I started another book, Mitzy Collins, completing some 56,000 words in there by the time The Desolate Garden came out. I have not had a chance since to add more, because of the promotion and marketing of that book. Over the Christmas holidays, I was up until 4am most nights, rereading and embellishing the story, but I only got as far as chapter five. There are some notes attached, so that when time allows, I can pick up the thread again.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I have been thrown into contemporary fiction as The Desolate Garden, which is set in modern times, is a spy, murder mystery, but I would not like to classify my writing into one bracket or another. The story has been described as historical, romantic and a thriller. It is all three of these. It has been likened to The 39 Steps and The Constant Gardener, by reviewers and the film producer whose London Company are turning it into a film, starting this year.
I, though, would describe it as a romantic novel that happens to have spies and murders in it.
I love writing of characters who have hearts and feel emotion. Both the main characters in The Desolate Garden do, as does Mitzy Collins, who has a huge heart.
What draws you to write in those genres?
It could just be my background, coupled with imagination, or it could well be my experiences of life.
I think it best to leave others to decide why this is.
Tell me about your current project(s)?
I toyed with television a few months ago. I was offered the chance to write a 50,000 word crime story by a commissioning editor at Channel 4. No money was fully discussed. It was dependent on being accepted, but if it had been, it was quite lucrative. I was tempted and I did start. What I did, I sent off and was encouraged, but I gave up, and turned the opportunity down. It was compelling and flattering, but not what I wanted. I want The Desolate Garden to fly, and have a chance at that. That is where all my attention will be until the film is ready to be distributed.
What are your writing plans for the future?
To finish Mitzy Collins. To tell her story. It’s hurting me, not being able to!
Where can people find out more about you?
My website has some details of me but, more importantly, all the availability to The Desolate Garden, my story.