Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small fishing town called Maryport, on the coast of the Solway Firth in Cumbria, England. Living there hasn't really shaped my writing much, but it did encourage me to dream big; living in such a tiny, isolated place can really inspire you to get out and see the world. Either you try to make something of yourself, or you're trapped there forever. I see it each time I go back to visit family; the same people doing the same things, drinking at the same pubs with the same friends, talking about the same mundane things, etc. That's just not me. I left as soon as I turned 18.
When did you first start writing?
I remember writing a short fan fiction about Super Mario on a primitive word processing computer when I was three or four years old.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest (and début) book, 'Ntshona', is set in a futuristic city in which the architecture is inconceivably advanced, where society puts heavy emphasis on a person's status and wealth, and the government are heavy-handed and oppressive towards the poor.
I got my initial inspiration while living in South Africa. There's a particular statue in a square behind a church near the centre of Cape Town that one day had a pink box placed over its head. As I craned to get a good angle for a photograph, I had a vision of tall highways blocking out the sky. I began to develop the basic setting, plot and protagonist from this brief flash of an idea, but didn't get very far until almost a year later in Taipei when I literally dreamt a better storyline and a refined context. I woke up, instantly turned on my laptop and typed for about an hour non-stop.
What are you working on next?
I can't keep my mind focussed on one thing at a time. For the last year and a half I've been working on the sequel to 'Ntshona', a concurrent storyline in the same series, a novel about a fictional East Asian war, and a book about knowledge. In addition, I'm working on a sequence of short stories based on my many travels.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting my ideas on a page in a form coherent enough for other people to understand what I'm thinking. Also when somebody says something like "That's good".
How do you approach cover design?
Ask some one else to do it.
What do you read for pleasure?
I tend to read a lot of historical literature, as I'm interested in the real world and politics.
Do you remember the first book you read, and what impact it had on you?
No, but I can remember reading a book when I was about seven years old that had rhododendrons in it. Since then I've always known what rhododendrons are.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Breakfast. Or perhaps lunch, depending on how late I've slept in.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have so many hobbies, but I tend to waste my time online instead, usually reading something interesting and factual in-between large and unproductive bouts of Facebook perusing. When I can manage to tear myself away form the internet, I love to play guitar (I have a degree in Popular Music), read books, watch documentaries, fight with my cat, practise Mandarin and Japanese, play video games, travel, and study for my next degree. I also love metal gigs.
Describe your desk
My hypothetical desk tends to either be a mattress or my lap, depending on my posture in bed.
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