What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I suppose in some way I’ve always written. When I was a kid I had a friend with Leukaemia and I wrote a story about a boy that had a sick friend (I couldn’t spell Leukaemia then – I still can’t without the help of a spell checker to be fair!) who found a time machine in the woods and went into the future to find a cure for his friend – I still wish I had that time machine. I found that story a few years ago and it’s not got a single bit of punctuation apart from full stops. I also remember drawing comic books as a kid, one that sticks in the mind was about an animal football team, only in the mind of an nine-year-old boy can a frog captain a team whilst a lion plays in goal!
Into my teens, I got into music and started writing song lyrics for various attempts to get bands started. I probably have a hundred songs sitting around in notebooks in my shed… Some of them are plain embarrassing, but I could never get rid of them.
And then in 2008, I started writing a novel, sort of. I went on holiday to the USA and I’m terrible when it comes to changing time zones, I can never sleep. So rather than putting the light on to read, which would have woken my wife, I started plotting a novel in my head. At some point in 2009 I started writing it down; in 2010 I started writing it seriously and I finished it in early 2012. It’s still sitting on my PC unpublished – one day I’ll go back to it and see if I can shape in into something a publisher might want. Whilst writing the novel, I also started writing a few short stories, the first of which was published in the Byker Books Radgepacket series and is the first story in my new collection, Criminal Thoughts.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
Whenever I have free time, I tend to open the computer with the intention of writing – my output might suggest I don’t have a lot of free time, but no, I’m just very easily distracted… by Facebook, Twitter, football forums and of course, reading excellent interviews with writers.
I work full-time but I try to write at lunchtimes, in the evenings and at weekends. My wife works Saturdays so I tend to find at least a bit of time then. Since I started writing fiction seriously in 2010, I’ve completed a novel, written sixteen short stories and started two novellas, so I guess I’m not as distracted as I think I am.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I guess most, if not all, of my stories are in the crime genre. At least that made it easy when coming up with a title for my collection, Criminal Thoughts.
What draws you to write in that genre?
The short answer is it’s the genre I enjoy reading the most, and most of the stuff I watch on TV or in the cinema is also crime based.
The longer answer is that I think it enables you to create more interesting characters. Obviously there’s often your good guy/bad guy set up, but I like to look beyond that and tell the reader about the insecurities of a criminal character, the reasons behind their actions. I like to develop an anti-hero, as they’re always the most interesting characters, someone that the reader knows is a wrong’un but still cares for. I also like to delve into relationships, criminal to criminal, the loyalties, rivalries and double-crossing, and criminal to law keeper, the mutual respect, the game of cat and mouse and how one gets the upper hand.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
In December, I released my first collection of short stories, Criminal Thoughts. It’s a collection of 11 stories of varying length that take the reader into the minds of gangsters, hit men, prisoners, policemen and more, as they wade through the underworld. I was very conscious that as I was self-publishing I didn’t just want to put the collection out without any quality control on it, so I asked Darren Sant (top writer and editor at Near to the Knuckle) to read the stories for quality. Once they passed through him, I had David Barber (another top writer and editor for Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos) do an editing job on them. I’m really pleased with the end result and just hope that people download it to their Kindle and enjoy reading it.
I am also working on two novellas – in slow time! I’ve had something on a very slow burn since a visit to Las Vegas in 2011. I’ve taken a recurring character from my short stories, Detective Alan Simmons, retired him and put him somewhere he thinks he’ll love (he has a gambling addiction), but doesn’t… On his first night he’s propositioned by a woman working as a prostitute and he angrily turns her away. But, when he bumps into her crying the following morning, he buys her breakfast and learns about how this once promising dancer ended up in prostitution. That’s as far as it’s got at the moment, but I’m hoping to kick on with it now as it’s a story I really want to tell.
My other novella, Worst Laid Plans, is at a similar stage. This one is a more humorous tale of a group of friends who accidentally kidnap a rock star who is disillusioned with his life. He befriends them and tries to convince them to make the best of the situation and hold him for ransom so that they can share the bounty.
What are your writing plans for the future?
With my first collection finished, I’ve written five new short stories, one of which, Loathe thy Neighbour, was recently published by Near to the Knuckle and another, Waste Disposal, is due to be published by Shotgun Honey. I intend to write another half dozen or so, and put out another collection. Once that collection’s complete, I’ll start another.
I also intend to finish both my novellas – let’s say by summer 2014. Maybe one day I’ll go back to writing a novel or polishing up the existing one in the hope of getting it published, but I have to be honest, at the moment I’m quite enjoying writing the shorter stuff.
Where can people find out more about you?