Author Bio and Contact Information
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 first three novels. Others await their future fates.
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 thus 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.
After spending much of my life travelling in one way or another, I now live quietly in a small foresthouse in Germany, with an Icelandic horse, two Mexican dogs, six French hens, and a mermaid who I found at a deserted beach in the Caribbean.
Sample Author Q&A
What made you write in the first place?
I started writing when I left England aged twenty-two. During many years of extended travel, I wrote journals and rambling travelogues to friends and family.It wasn't until much later in life that I considered writing with the objective of publishing.When the desire became strong enough, I closed my business, sold my home, and went back to sea in a small yacht to write.The ideas and inspiration for my current novels stem from an autobiography that I wrote a decade ago.
Which Author has influenced you and why?
There are many; too many to pick just one. Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, John LeCarre, William Wharton, Bryce Courtenay, are a few of my favourites. It depends on my mood. Each one is quite different to the others, but one thing they have in common is their ability to create a world in which I become immersed, and not want to leave.
What is your favourite book?
Like authors, I can’t narrow it down to one.
Quiet – Susan CainFranky
Furbo – William WhartonSeven
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.
Tell us about your writing process.
My process is to start with an idea, an incident, a moment in time, and then run with it. I don't plot or outline, (I tried once and felt too controlled, too hemmed in and so did my characters) but start with the smallest idea, then see where that goes. For instance with Flank Street I had this vision of a guy walking in the shadows, and then he started to take form, to become the criminal Micky DeWitt. I threw him into a difficult situation then let him find his way forward with an occasional nudge. I could tell that he was susceptible to a dame with a well turned heel, and so stood Carol next to him.
Your writing ritual (if you have one)?
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 a single desk light, lots of pipes, valves and pressure gauges and the faint smell of fuel oil.
Your secret "sin" when you write?
If there’s sin, then it’s occasionally levelling old scores. Most of us have met or known people who we would like to change or just get rid of. Writing them in as characters gives me that opportunity. Some I change, others get whacked.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I've always been a hands-on guy, and have had a few businesses in the past, so self-publishing was a natural choice for me. Self-publishing allows the author to maintain full control of their career, something which I feel is very important in these rapidly changing times. There is also the financial consideration, in that as a self publisher, one gets a bigger slice of the pie.
Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
The border blurs between a character and me. I try to become them, think and react like them. I have conversations with them and try to provoke them into arguments to see what they are made of.
About Meet Me at Harry's
Harry's is an iconic Sydney pie cart situated in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo. Harry’s has been serving mouth-watering pies from the famous caravan since 1938. It's where the two protagonists, Nick and Stacia, first go out together, and is part of two critical points of the novel. It's also where this author has enjoyed many a pie in the small hour of the morning.
All readers will find something in this book to which they can relate. Although it's set firmly in the crime genre, it's more about people and their hidden feelings and emotions, their unrealised desires and unspoken frustrations. Like a great number of people, Nick Miller has been working the same job so long he's stopped questioning why. It's not until Stacia asks 'why' that he realises he's in a rut and destined for a bland, unfulfilled future numbed by alcohol.
Meet Me at Harry's also looks at people taking a desperate leap when there's nothing much left to lose, and how sometimes a momentary spontaneous action can lead to something better.
All of the books of The Sydney Quartet feature some sailing, which given my background is hardly surprising. Since 1990, I've spent something like fourteen years ocean sailing, covering in excess of 100,000 sea miles.