I've always written, as far back as I can recall anyway. Until 2011, that writing was just for me, or as rambling letters to friends, and travelogues to family. I never thought about why, or if others did similarly, and the thought of publishing never entered my head.
Since I left England in 1979, I've travelled widely, collecting experiences, people, and places as I did so. From the blood-soaked streets of Kampala, the polluted dust bowls of the Sahara, or the pristine ice floes of the Antarctic, I've gathered and filed them away. Some have recently squeezed through the bars of insecurity and are now at large in the pages of my novels.
Although I grew up in Norfolk, UK, I never felt truly at home until I lived in Australia, and that is no doubt the reason my first published novels are set there. All of my books this far have some element of fact in them. I guess it's hard for any writer not to include events from their life. Our experiences shape our thoughts and the words and actions of our characters.
I sometimes wish I'd become a novelist earlier in life, but then if I had, I wouldn't have the range of characters and events that I do now.
I now live quietly in a forest house in Germany with five French hens, two Mexican dogs, an Irish cob, and a mermaid who I found on a deserted beach in Bequia.
My writing ritual.
It depends on what stage I’m at, and what the scenes or chapter are like. If I need to get into character, I’ll sometimes watch part of a movie that’ll help take me there. Or sit in the dark and listen to the proceeding chapter, visualising the characters movements and moods.
I write in the boiler room, which is in the cellar ‑ what my family call the KGB room. It kinda looks like that. It’s sparse and hard, how I’d like to keep my writing. It has lots of pipes, valves and pressure gauges, and the faint smell of fuel oil. There's a single overhead light in a wire cage, and on the table, an ancient desklamp that spills a yellow glow behind the monitor.
Some of my favourite books
Quiet – Susan Cain
Franky Furboy – William Wharton
Seven Pillars of Wisdom – T.E Lawrence
The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
Sailing Alone Around the World – Joshua Slocum, and there are so many more.
Each of these books has stayed with me, and in some way changed my life. None of them directly influences what I write, but all of them have influenced who I am.