What’s your writing background, when did you begin writing and what inspired you?
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To be honest I’m not sure I have what you’d call a writing background; I just enjoy writing and always have. I think my love of writing stems from my love of reading; my mum got me into enjoying books from a very young age. To me story telling is an ancient art, one of the oldest forms of entertainment in human history; writing is the modern-day equivalent of telling stories to a wider audience. I’ve had a creative nature all my life and writing is the way I find easiest to get my creativity into the world. As a kid I used to think up funny stories and comedy sketches – many inspired by the late Kenny Everett and Monty Python – then record them on my trusty tape machine to play to my friends. This somehow morphed into writing stories where my imagination could have greater freedom to weave a spell over the reader and I’ve continued on and off ever since. I can still recall the only project at art college where I scored a distinction was a creative writing assignment. Actually I scored two – I completed someone else’s as well as they were struggling with it.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m an avid reader of anything I can get my hands on; I like to imagine what happens after I’ve read the last page, where do the characters go? I muse on normality being forced into an abnormal condition, where someone I know or some part of my own character is forced to confront a situation they could never have imagined. Many ideas come to me when I mishear something on TV or the radio; I think to myself did they really say that? Although I instantly realise they didn’t, I start to think but what if they did… I can find a story and usually something humorous in almost anything. There are a few writers I admire tremendously and find very inspiring: Kurt Vonnegut Jr, John Connolly, and your good self of course.
How often do you write, and how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
Unfortunately my own writing is like a Venn diagram, it occurs only when opportunity, inspiration and available time coincide; which is to say not nearly as often as I’d like. My day job involves a lot of writing – reports, policies, guidance documents and the like – so spending an evening or weekend at the keyboard is a busman’s holiday and, being an outdoors type person, I’m not a big fan of being cooped up chained to a computer.
I’ve got so many first chapters on my hard drive that I can’t keep track of them all. As a new ray of inspiration strikes I’m off on another journey into my imagination leaving the last one to wither into near oblivion. Fortunately this often gives me the opportunity to sit back for a while before rereading what I’ve put down, then to decide if there is something there worth continuing with and, if so, what direction should it continue in.
As you can see I’m not one to map out the entire story development prior to writing the first word. In fact, most of what I’ve written started out entirely differently to what’s there at the finish. My writing doesn’t have a start, middle and end; it begins with one and grows into the others, sometimes in odd and surprising ways.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I love to write “chillers” otherwise known as dark fiction – stories with a light touch of horror or sci-fi that take you outside the ordinary, everyday world, usually with a twist at the end. Although I’d like to try my hand at many other genres, in particular historical fiction and fantasy which are two genres I enjoy reading.
I’ve also had a few articles published online, mostly relating to my day job, which have been enjoyable to write.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I think it’s because it seems to lend itself to short stories which I particularly enjoy writing; it’s the sense of trying to cram something frightening into a small space from which it can jump out and envelope you.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
How long have we got?
Not quite current but I’ve just finished writing an accompanying short story to your recently published ‘Life’ which relates how the guy in the next cell, although never having met your protagonist, is inextricably linked to him and why they’re both there. I found the idea of putting together a separate story that meshes with a work by someone else a great mental exercise and fun to do.
Any day now I should have a short story published at Near to the Knuckle, which showcases some amazing talent. I feel very privileged to have had one of my scribblings accepted.
There’s a novel I’m struggling to get done: it tells the tale of two gentlemen assassins, who having been employed by the government for many years now find themselves made redundant (the NHS more than adequately covering their role) and, faced with the spectre of early retirement, they decide to set up in the private sector. Does a lifetime of experience with every conceivable weapon prepare them for the cut and thrust of the corporate world? For some reason I’m struggling to keep the humour level down as too many situations crop up which lend themselves to Terry Pratchett-esque jokes.
I’m also looking at getting some more of my unpublished short stories out there. If anyone is interested get in touch and I’ll dust them off, maybe add a little polish to the dull bits then see what you think.
What are your writing plans for the future?
To do more! All I have to do is find a way of fitting 36 hours of productivity into a 24 hour day… That might take a little work though.
Where can people find out more about you?
Hopefully not on the national news or in the papers.
LinkedIn is where I exist in my day job guise, otherwise a séance or Ouija board is possibly a good idea.
Are we done? Now if you just remove your… that’s good, and I’ll just slide my… great. I think we should be able to get out of the booth now without injury.