What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
Inspiration came from my friends who loved to read and write. The way they talked about books and put songs, poems and stories together seemed wonderfully cool. They led me to imagine worlds I’d never seen, worlds populated by romance, imagination and interesting people pushing at barriers, all the kinds of things I wanted in my life.
That link to friends continued when we scattered around the country and embarked upon keeping in touch through long letters. The letters weren’t much more than snippets of news and expressions of emotion, but they felt special to read and to write.
I moved on to diaries, poetry and short stories, then to producing a poetry and short-story magazine. Eventually I moved to writing longer pieces of prose.
All-in-all, that adds up to about thirty years of working at some piece of writing or other.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I manage because I must, which is not to say it comes first.
Writing and the business of writing is pushed to the evenings when the teaching job has been done and the children have been looked after, entertained and put to bed.
I’ve taken off Wednesdays so that I no longer work full-time. This gives me a day when I can focus upon my children in a more relaxed way and, as they’re at school, gives me the day to concentrate upon writing while I’m fresh.
It’s not easy and it can be exhausting, but the feeling of completing a piece makes it worthwhile.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
Broadly speaking, I’m a crime-writer. Noir would come closer still to narrowing my work down. The way I perceive the bulk of my work is that I’m floating between genres and suspect that I hold on to some of my earlier literary sensitivities while I do so. Noir with heart, or at least with broken-hearts. I have a novel which I’m calling ‘teacher noir’ (In Loco Parentis) and a novella (Mr Suit) that I’m suggesting is Screwball Noir. Maybe I just like making up names for things.
I continue to write poems for fun every so often and particularly enjoy doing so for young children.
What draws you to write in that genre?
In part it’s the quality of the work of other writers from the past and the present.
There was such a lot to admire in its Hard-Boiled roots and there’s the contemporary work that is often fast-paced, character driven, inventive, emotionally engaging and poetic in its laconic phrasing.
I also love the sense of community within the genre and the way the mutual support is given. I’d be scribbling for myself still if it weren’t for the generosity of the people I’ve met, whether those relationships have been formed in person, on-line or through both.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I’ve just had a couple of novellas published.
The first of those, Smoke, was released by the superb Blasted Heath who have a number of exceptional writers in their stable. It’s about a teenager attempting to find his feet in a world of Scottish poverty, local criminals and revenge plots. I’d like to think that readers of that one will feel fully involved with the characters and get to know them warts-and-all.
Mr Suit is a shorter work and that’s self-published. It has less of a melancholy feel to it than my short stories and is possibly less probing into the psyches and souls of those I’ve created. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope that the entertainment I found in its writing is reflected in the experience of the reader. It’s a tale of a gangster with locked-in-syndrome who appeals to his wife and his ex-boss to put him out of his misery. This being a screwball comedy of a rather dark kind things don’t go to plan and it ends up with a kidnapping, a runaway attempt, a burglary and a high-octane finale. There are twists and turns in it that I wouldn’t normally use, but had to follow the main players where they needed to go.
Essentially, because of the need to attempt to persuade people to buy copies, they remain as my current projects.
I’m also trying to get word out about an excellent collection called Nightfalls: Notes From The End Of The World. It’s an anthology containing a lot of talent and a number of incredible takes on how things might come to a close. The reason I hope it does well is that it’s a fundraising book and the money will go to a very good cause indeed.
I’d like to spend time with family and friends over the Christmas period and then get back to being creative next year. Should a story arrive inside my head at any time, I guess that I might just spend a few hours jotting down notes.
What are your writing plans for the future?
My hope is that I can write a couple of novels and a few more novellas in the next three or four years. It would also be great to produce some short stories as I love the format and the challenge of carving out a giant of a piece in a very small space.
What all of that depends upon is the inspiration that sets off the ideas. It’s that which I need more than elements such as time, for without those sparks of ignition there’d be nothing for me to create. I’m hopeful they won’t desert me just yet.
Where can people find out more about you?
The closest I’ve come to revealing my own internal workings is in the novel In Loco Parentis – that’s pretty close to my bones. Try all three and you should know me pretty well by the end.
And thanks for having me.