I suppose this is the bit where I have to say something about myself:
I was born in 1958 (Yes, I’m that old) in a small Staffordshire village, called Stone, at the side of a water wheel. I was delivered on a deep-red Chaise Longue in a private nursing home. That’s as posh as I ever got; it all went downhill from there. I grew up in Stoke, Birmingham, Northampton, Chesterfield and Sheffield. Needless to say, I have an accent that is difficult to place.
I started writing when I was little because Miss Cottingham told me to. She said that I was good at telling stories and that I should keep doing it. I have no idea where she is now but I have done what she said. That was the last time I did anything that a teacher told me. The crime was repeated in secondary school by my English teacher, Tom Dunkley, to whom I owe an awful lot. He gave me the confidence to push my writing to higher levels. I was always in awe and felt inferior to two other kids (Roger and Geraldine) who knew how to use big, complicated words. Tom explained to me how that was not the secret to good writing. He was a great character who is, sadly, no longer with us. I heard of his demise on my twenty first birthday.
When I hit my thirties, I decided to take it a little more seriously and joined a Sheffield writing group, Abbeydale Writers. A great writing group that manages to get the balance between support and criticism exactly right. They say that things come in threes and it was here that I discovered my modern day mentor, the group leader and tutor, Barry Nicholls. I have a lot to thank Barry for.
Those days (the early nineties) I was writing short stories and the group got me to the point where I was finishing them, too. I would produce ten pages for every meeting. After a few years I got the urge to stride out. I’d already written a couple of pieces that stretched over three or more weeks. My theory was that a novel is no more than a thirty week stretch of ten page stories. Not entirely true, but it produced my first finished novel of over ninety thousand words and I couldn’t begin to describe the feeling of achievement. I have fond memories of that novel and, despite encouragement to dust it off and make it available once more, I have decided to keep it as a memory. Along with the two that followed.
Eventually, I wrote something that we all at the group recognised as marketable standard: my first Frank Vine novel, the first chapter of which is here to read. I quickly followed this with another and then branched out into a less grimy area of story-telling with the two romantic thrillers, Last Day of my Life and The Cherry Tree. The third Frank Vine entered dark areas indeed and spurned the comedy thriller, One Filthy Night. Great fun, but rather extreme. I think of this as my ‘Carry on Tarantino’ phase. All this time I was chasing publishers and, eventually, literary agents, the latter of which were painfully honest in their opinions. I developed thick skin. I had set myself a target of attracting a large, successful, English agent and, some years ago, achieved this goal (goal and target?). I thought all my problems would be at an end. Sadly, that’s not the case. My agent still has four of my novels ‘waiting for the market to be right for them’. At the risk of sounding impatient, I decided, unanimously, that I would wait no longer and dip my toe into e-publishing. Mistake or great idea? No way of knowing. The nice thing about it though is the knowledge that at least my work is out there. Okay, it’s out there with an awful lot of other stuff, but it is out there.
But I didn’t rest entirely on my laurels. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with work (age related - just couldn’t tolerate fools) so, nine years ago, I enrolled at Sheffield Hallam University to do an English & Film degree. I had three great years, made some lifelong friends and then followed it with an MA in writing. Here I met a bunch of terrific writers, both on the course and running it. My writing would be nowhere near where it is today without the help of Matt Stanley, Rachel Genn and Susan Elliot Wright. Between us we produced my latest novel, Dying for a Life, which is currently doing the rounds of English Agents.
Mention has also to be made to the great Mike Harris who dragged out of me a talent for scriptwriting that I never knew I had. Mike has been an amazing teacher and friend and showed me what real collaboration is all about. It is Mike that I thank for inspiring me towards producing working scripts for theatre.
As well as writing, I also act, some say well, some don’t say. I get involved with the local panto every December and, up until a couple of years ago, performed Shakespeare plays with Clumber Players every summer in Worksop.
I have no idea what else to say or even if anything I have said is remotely relevant, however, if you want more of the same inane drivel then check out my blog by clicking on the one of the two links above or by clicking here. I am almost certain to be banging on about something that has little or nothing to do with writing.