The first story I ever wrote was about my close friend, Scabby Derby. I was about five years old and, as far as I was concerned, the story was non-fiction. Strangely, though, everyone who read it commented on my vivid imagination. Scabby Derby was very real to me but people thought that, because he had a purple face and green fingers he must be made up! Go figure!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a little house right on the edge of open fields and woodland. Every day I walked to school through the woods – alone. It gave me plenty of time to think and to look around me. I took the same path each day but I'd often wonder where the other paths led to. It was a long walk, but sometimes I'd be dreaming so deeply about where those other paths might go that I'd arrive at school not being able to remember a step of the journey.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak. I remember believing totally that Max had gone away to that island inhabited by strange beasts who made him King. Most people will know this book, it's a classic, but the most amazing thing about it is it's only 338 words! I still find it incredible that Sendak is able to create this fantastical place in our heads and a very real dilemma to think about in so few words. I can remember thinking about it deeply for days afterwards. Would I have done the same as Max and come home? Would you?
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything! Everything! I often have several books on the go at the same time. I feel uncomfortable if I don't have a book with me. Like I've come out without a coat!
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a really hard question as I have so many favourites! Here are the first ten that pop into my head - in no particular order: Charles Dickens Charlotte Bronte Stephen King Patrick Ness Maya Angelou Toni Morrison JK Rowling Arundhati Roy James Clavell Roald Dahl
Oh No! There are about a hundred more...
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Tai Pan by James Clavell - Best ever twist in the tail. The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl - Coolest idea. Bleak House by Charles Dickens - Complex plot lines all coming together. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein - Sorry, had to include it. Cliched, I know, but for sheer imagination it has to be up there. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - Reading it is like listening to a hymn.
Plus anything by JK Rowling. The woman is a God.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a kindle. An older version but still great to have books at my fingertips wherever I am.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I've had the story of 'The Turnarounders and the Arbcukle Rescue' in my head for along time! The idea came to me when I was visiting my grandmother. My Nan was an incredible woman – really sharp and funny, with a wicked sense of humour. Towards the end of her life, though, she began to do some odd things. Sometimes I'd go to see her but would have to wait to talk to her until she'd finished her conversation with a man called Eddie. She'd have long, detailed discussions with Eddie. They'd gossip, laugh and joke and have a grand old time together, which would have been great except for the fact that there was no one there! My Nan would be alone in a room having a complex one-sided conversation with a person no one else could see! The Doctors said it was age, confusion and the onset of dementia but I started to wonder. She seemed as sharp as ever when she spoke to me. She could do complex multiplications in her head and remember the colour of the wallpaper she had in the living room forty years previously. What if the issue was not with her mind but my eyes? What if there really was someone else there? That's when I had the idea for 'The Turnarounders', special people who knew things and could see and hear things that no one else could – because they had lived before...
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I'm working on the next book in 'The Turnarounders' series. 'The Turnarounders and the Pimpernel Liberation'. If you thought Ralf and his friends were in a spot of bother in the last book, wait till you read this one!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I knew when I was writing 'The Turnarounders and the Arbuckle Rescue' that I was going to be an Indie author. I didn't even bother to send the final draft off to agents or publishers because I knew the book didn't fit neatly into any niche they might be looking to fill. The book is long for a kids' book and is a generic hybrid. Which category would you put the book in? Because the book had elements of historical writing, fantasy and even a bit of Sci Fi in places, I knew publishers would be reluctant to spend time even looking at it. With that in mind, I decided to chance it. The general public are generally a lot smarter than they get credit for. I want people to read and like 'The Turnarounders and the Arbukle Rescue', obviously, and I think they should have a chance to judge it, even if it doesn't fit neatly into one particular category. Time will tell...
How do you approach cover design?
I've been really lucky with Cover design. The talented Mr Jake Maguire put it together for me and it looks brill. Looks even better in print!
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