Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up and live in the North of England. It influenced my writing by encouraging a directness of style and a willingness to engage with difficult issues from an original standpoint. I've also inherited a tradition of challenging conventional wisdom and disliking any form of pretentious hypocrisy.
When did you first start writing?
When I was six and it was illegible!. However my first real creative burst of energy happened from the ages of 18 to 20. However, I didn't know what to do with my creativity and in March 1977 I threw my rather late teenage angst material away into a skip. (I don't think the world has lost much through me doing this.) Apart from some poetry and rather amateurish attempts at story telling whilst attending a creative writing class during the 1981-82 academic year, I really didn't get going until I was aged 47 in 2003. It was only then that I gained the confidence that I could actually do something with my writing and this led to the publication of 'At 47' in November 2011.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The' Advantage Study Skills' series originated in 1994 in response to student needs. As a tutor, I found that so many of them lacked basic skills in essay writing , revising for exams or even presenting simple arguments that I was having to resolve these issues before I could begin to tutor them in the main subjects they were doing. Inevitably, this cost a great deal of time of time and in order to remedy this situation I began producing Study Aid notes. These after much revision, updating and careful editing they formed the basis for my 'Advantage Study' Skills. Initially, they were released in crude spiral folder and were sold on an individual basis. However, positive feedback I received from both students and parents encouraged me to develop them to the point I could release them in book form onto Lulu. This was done in May 2013. The next logical step was to place them onto Amazon Kindle which was done in August 2013. However, negative feedback concerning the covers obliged me to hire a professional designer to re-do the them. This work was completed in August 2014 and it was only then that I was ready to release this material onto Smashwords. As can be seen, I've divided the original manuscript into a series of small booklets in order to reduce the price and facilitate reader access.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The desire to leave a good legacy in teaching and literature. I also saw it as a natural development to my work in the teaching area. There's also the hope that it might provide some passive income in my old age.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The excitement of the creative process itself - plus the realization that you're learning new things and gaining new skills.
What are you working on next?
A Family History which was conceived in response my Father's death at the age of 85 in April 1999. The research has almost been completed and it does exist in manuscript form. My intention is to have it published sometime next year. However, the arrival of further information could easily delay things.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite English Author is George Orwell and my favorite overseas author is Alexander Solzhenitsyn - both of whom had the integrity to withstand tyranny. I'm also an admirer of classical Victorian authors like Charles Dickens, the Bronte Sisters and Elizabeth Gaskell for their acute observation of social issues.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The need to earn money.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working swimming and visiting places of historical interest.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I was twelve when I tried to write a story about Roman Emperors. I have always been a lover of History. I had a go at trying to read Lowe's abridged version of Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' when I was aged 14. I only got as far as chapter 15. However, I resumed reading Gibbon in early 2013 and so far I've completed three of the six volumes - none of them abridged!
What is your writing process?
This varies widely. Sometimes, I see pictures which I have to describe in either prose or poetical form but on other occasions I just see or hear words that sometimes maybe accompanied by the music of a well known song. However, there are periods when there has to be a detailed planning and research process. The writing process is very unpredictable and is also influenced by the amount of administrative chores and work duties I have to attend to. After a strongly creative period I may feel thoroughly empty inside. At such moments, I'm quite happy to do something that is utterly 'brain dead' like help my wife do some house work.
How do you approach cover design?
Unless a very basic design is required, I'm increasingly sub-contacting that work to the experts.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
These vary depending upon my mood and circumstances.
What do you read for pleasure?
A healthy profit and loss account!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
This is something I'm still trying to find out amidst all the hype and exaggerated nonsense peddled by self-appointed experts. On e.books, I've found that limiting the size of your work or breaking it into small bite-sized chunks appears to help sales as do having professionally designed covers.
Describe your desk
It's a mess is the short answer!
What do your fans mean to you?
My one fan means a lot to me, as I've been married to her since 23rd June 1979.
How did you select your cover image?
I felt the picture of a Greek Philosopher teaching reflected my own interests as a historian and educator. It also highlighted how old a profession teaching is. I took this photograph in August 2013 whilst holidaying in Rome..
Any further comments?
No, just get on and purchase my books!
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