A Bit About Me
I started writing early in the 21st Century, partly because my children were too old for me to read them bedtime stories any more! Over the years I’ve served an apprenticeship via taking part in courses and workshops, and entering competitions. A number of my short stories have won or been shortlisted for competition prizes, and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts I have finally written a novel, Truthsister, that’s worth publishing (planned date is June 2018). Watch out for more news!
My day job (now part-time) is as a scientist, and in that work I’ve had to write stuff for all kinds of audiences. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and for a good ten years I used to read bedtime stories to my children. We got through quite a lot of books, and on the whole the children humoured me while I chose my favourites…
I live in Swindon, town of literary fame (Sherlock Holmes Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and a lot of Jasper Fforde stuff). Despite Swindon’s dull reputation (e.g. from The Office) it’s actually a pretty inspiring environment. An annual literature festival, a decent Arts Centre, writing courses, hideaways on a working farm, and great countryside around.
Who are my influences? Good question.
- Conan Doyle. The Lost World – real Boys’ Own stuff. And just how does he get the Sherlock Holmes stories to be so gripping when his characters are so thin? Good writing, that’s how.
- Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. Broad-sweeping imagination and breathtaking ideas. Try Asimov’s short story Nightfall and Clarke’s Second Dawn. Great SF.
- The true founders of SF were Jules Verne – who, even in the mid-nineteenth century, could produce fantastic ideas and strong characters, as in Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and H G Wells, whose work covered a vast range of subjects in his short stories and novels. As well as the obvious ones, such as The War of the Worlds and The History of Mr Polly, try the short stories The Country of the Blind and the mystical The Door in the Wall.
- I’ve always felt a close affinity to John Wyndham‘s later works, too – read The Chrysalids for something even more trenchant and imaginative than The Day of the Triffids.
- Philip Pullman – fantastic imagination in His Dark Materials
- J R R Tolkien, of course. After The Lord of the Rings, why do any of us bother to write fantasy any more?
- OK. I’ll make an exception. J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books are going to run and run too.
- I’m a sucker for whodunnits: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Ian Rankin, etc.
- Jane Austen! Humour and satire at the turn of the eighteenth century. Read Mansfield Park – the dark side of P&P.
- Humour too from Douglas Adams and from P G Wodehouse, the master.
- Children’s magic from Phillipa Pearce in Tom’s Midnight Garden. On growing up…
- Poetry as prose from Ian McEwan – feel the summer heat in those opening chapters of Atonement.