Born in Jersey, Mark Patton studied Archaeology & Anthropology at Clare College Cambridge, and completed his PhD at UCL. He has taught at a range of universities in the UK, France and the Netherlands, and currently teaches with The Open University. He is the author of several academic books, as well as one historical biography and two historical novels.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm an islander! I grew up on Jersey, in the Channel Islands. Like most Jerseymen of my generation, I learned to swim at the same time as I learned to walk, and the sea played a big part in my upbringing. I did a great deal of swimming, sailing and scuba-diving. The protagonist of my first novel is himself a Jerseyman, and I think my love of the sea, and of the island landscape and it's flora and fauna are all there in the novel.
When did you first start writing?
I was good at English at school and, as a teenager, I wrote poems for my girlfriends. John Donne and Shakespeare were the inspiration for many of them, although I never soared to anything like their quality. As a student at Cambridge, I discovered that I was actually much better at writing prose than poetry. My girlfriend was typing the final draft of my first published book, "Jersey in Prehistory" (still in print, I think, though somewhat out of date) as I was revising for my finals.