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I write reactively, responding to events and situations. Often it's the combination of two or more lines of thought that coalesce into the idea for a story.
For instance, I wrote The Stones of Liverpool to celebrate that city's year as European Capital of Culture. After visiting the International Slavery Museum, I wanted to write about the debt that Liverpool owes to Africa. The Stones of Liverpool is a sci-fi story that asks the question: 'What would happen if you had a time-machine and you set it to journey to the eleven day gap between the Julian and Gregorian calendars?'
The Immortal Game combines chess and the English Lake District. An iconic game of chess was played by Anderssen and Kiesertisky in 1851. The story re-enacts that game as a battle between two armies in the Lakeland fells, from the point of view of an embedded reporter.
Mus musicus was inspired by my daughter's piano teaching. A family of mice builds a nest in an old piano and their musical journey begins when the piano tuner arrives.
In August, 2010, I won third prize in the Mail on Sunday novel competition. The brief was to submit the opening 150 words of a novel. Those words now extend to 85,000 and I have entered them as 'Fusion' in The Terry Pratchett Prize competition.
In 2011 I came second in the University of Central Lancashire's sci-fi/fantasy writing competition for my short story 'Something In The Bush'. The editorial board included the following appraisal in their comments:
"First, let me emphasise what we really like about it: the editorial board were really impressed by the inventive and engaging plot (or anti-plot?) of 'Something In The Bush' which manages to achieve great moments of dramatic tension and intrigue, while simultaneously undermining traditional narrative tropes. It's a really ambitious idea, and one that's carried along admirably by your confident and inventive prose."