I am a writer, journalist and 'book-maker' based in South-west France. Born in London and raised in Belfast, I studied English Literature at Exeter University and American Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton, where I met my wife, Deborah.
We moved from Sheffield to France in 1995, not long after the birth of our daughter. We later moved from the Corrèze to the Lot, in 2003, to build the straw-bale house featured in the UK's TV series, Grand Designs Abroad. The programme is available somewhere on You Tube.
I have written stage plays, screenplays, children's books and two books of non-fiction. The second, 'Essential Questions to Ask When Buying a House in France' was updated in 2012 as my first published eBook.
As a journalist, I have written for most UK newspapers and many magazines, including France Magazine and Living France. As an on-line DJ for www.expatsradio.com, I also review Latin jazz and other world music for Songlines magazine.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Although I love novels like Faulkner's 'The Sound And The Fury', Bellow's 'Herzog', Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness' and many others, I usually come back to Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' when people ask me, 'What's your favourite novel?' The writing is exquisite, the imagery resonant and the characters are well drawn - and, crucially, it's not a word too long. It says just about everything there is to say about the human condition in a way that is crafted to glitter like a precious jewel. To add a fifth title, Arthur Miller's 'Time Bends' held me in its trance and left me feeling that it was written by a very wise and very human individual, whom I would love to have known.
What do you read for pleasure?
I have always read novels, but find myself reading more non-fiction as I get older. When either my wife or I travel back to the UK from France, we usually bring home a copy of Vanity Fair, which usually gives a week or more's good, varied reading. In idle moments, I find myself dipping time and again into the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD. I used to read sports magazines from cover to cover, but these days pick up enough stuff in that respect on the internet.
Toying with the romantic idea of buying a house in beautiful France? Benefit from the experience of someone who has done it before and who can guide you past the potential pitfalls. This indispensable book will spell out some of the essential questions that you'll need to ask of agents, vendors, legal, fiscal and financial parties and - above all, perhaps - yourself.