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I have been writing since I was about 11. I have written in many genres and worked professionally as a writer in television.
I have kept a journal since I was 16, which now consists of more than 90 volumes. It’s focused on every day life, the people I know and the messes we make.
My dyslexia makes both reading and particularly writing a challenge. It’s true to say that I would probably never have learnt to read at all were it not for my mother being so determined I would not be left behind. I was lucky enough to get treatment at Guy’s Hospital in the first NHS Dyslexic unit in the UK along with further teaching from many specialists over the years. Thanks to these opportunities I was able to get a few ‘O’ levels but though I did study and complete ‘A’ levels, university was, at that time, not a possibility. Like all dyslexics I have found a myriad of ways to get round the problems it presents. So far I have been fairly successful at this so that I have been able both to write and to keep down a job in a major bookshop which affords me a living.
I started out in the film industry. I was a runner, PA, and then a Clapper Loader (assists the Focus Puller, puts the film in the camera and ‘claps’ the slate at the start of a take) and worked on many television commercials, TV shows and even a few movies. My last gig as a loader was Michael Winner’s ‘Parting Shots’. Never heard of it? I am not surprised. It had an awesome cast, everybody from Ben Kingsley to Ollie Reed, but what a shocking film.
I was a script editor on Family Affairs: remember that? Channel Five’s flagship soap. Famous I think for the largest single cast cull in a river boating accident? I went on to be a writer for the show for a year. The politics nearly killed me but some of the people were fantastic and among them some superb writers.
After that I went into bookselling. I worked at John Sandoe’s, one of the greatest bookshops in the world www.johnsandoe.com (go and visit) for many years and though I have left there now I have moved to a fabulous place in the heart of the academic book world. A world in which, ironically, despite several attempts, I could never get a look in.
The first book that really brought the power of stories to life for me was a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels that my aunt lent to me. I sat, aged 12, in an old crumpled armchair in a book-lined sunroom where she used to work and I was transported to St. Bartholomew’s hospital and the voice of that crisp brilliant mind elucidating on the powers of deduction while he beat a corpse with the stick to see the effect of post mortem bruising?
My favorite book is Alexander Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo.