I’ve been teaching for 25 years now and always in primary schools. I worked as a mainstream class teacher for about half of that time and then moved into Special Education where I worked with children with severe language difficulties. Now I’m the support for learning teacher in a school near Edinburgh, Scotland.
I’ve been writing for longer than I’ve been teaching. Most of my work is for adults, but I have a collection of children’s poetry out as well as a couple of illustrated stories (Little Grey Cloud is available for Kindle and I’m rather proud of that one).
What inspires you to write?
I’m often inspired by interesting news items or sad events.
My most recent work was inspired by concern for the world’s environment (which is one of the sad things, I’m afraid). There were huge storms around the world this year and the East Coast of Scotland, where I live was part of that). Last week I went for a walk on the beach and saw something I’ve never seen before – a dead puffin. There wasn’t only 1 either, but there were 13, mainly because our spring has been so very cold. The other inspiration was the proposed use of Fracking to extract gases from underground. It’s a process I don’t want to see happening because of the dangers and I believe we need to be more careful. ‘The Rocks Below’ is a story about strange boulders that are washed up on the beach and have a serious impact upon a small town. Above all, it’s supposed to be a great story; if it gets children thinking about how we might look after the world, so much the better.
My most important role is as a father. I have 3 children aged 9, 7 and 5.
Tell us about your writing process
My writing is what I would call ‘organic’.
First of all, I can’t write unless I have an idea.
When the idea comes, I let it float about in my mind for as long as it needs to develop. At some point, I know roughly where a story will take me and then sit down to write it. Where it goes from there is often driven by the characters I create.
I’m very poorly organised in life and when I try to write notes and outlines, they just seem to get in the way.
What I would say is that the most important part of the process seems to begin once I’ve completed a first draft.
How do you think writing for children and young adults is different from writing for an adult audience?
For me, the first thing is to consider the tone of the story. As I said earlier, I often work with dark and difficult subjects. Many of these are not suitable for young adults or older children. That does mean I can only write for children when the idea is right – in the case of the rocks below, the idea of ‘living rocks’ seemed perfect for a younger audience.
I try to make sure that the chapters are all engaging and are always moving the plot forwards so that things are never dull (even more so than with my adult material).
When I put together the paperback version to back up the kindle, I added illustrations and also used a dyslexia-friendly paper and font, something I haven’t done with my adult work (maybe I should consider why I haven’t done it for adult readers!).
Ideally, I suppose I’d include children or young adults in the stories as major characters, but that’s just not the way it happens – the characters choose me rather than the other way around.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I seem to watch them. See what they’re doing. Like they’re in a movie with the sound turned down. When I see what they’re doing, I write it down. I hope that makes sense.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Having published poetry magazines and also tried hard to find agents and publishers in the past, I do believe that self-publishing is a superb way to get work out to readers. I do have a couple of publishers who have put out my work and I’ve had a lot of stories in anthologies (The Mammoth Best British Crime Stories for example).
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe that e-publishing will dominate the world of publishing in a very short period of time. I also believe that the major publishers of tree-books are becoming better at using the technologies and suspect that when everything settles, not much will have changed other than the medium uses to read from.
What genres do you write?
Crime, noir, sci-fi, short stories
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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