More About the Author
I was born into a large family in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1951. My old man was a bricklayer. I left Bellshill to go to Edinburgh University. I got an upper second class honours degree in History in 1973 and started teaching myself how to write in the hope that it would allow me to forgo a proper job. I was working as a labourer then in the steelworks. Needless to say the hope of sitting around in the South of France with a portable typewriter coining in pots of money stayed a forlorn hope!
My first experiences in writing and boxing were used as the background to an 'erotic' novel called Are You Boys Cyclists?
Up until I jacked in my job share as a school librarian in May 2011, I had eight plays produced. I stopped writing drama about twenty years ago, but my plays were very well received at the time and I had two produced at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. I had one called Busted toured around Scotland and a later version was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The flagship at the time for radio drama in Britain was The Monday Night Theatre on Radio 4 and I had two plays broadcast in that slot, both adaptations from novels. I also had two other plays broadcast, my first effort broadcast on Radio Scotland, Radio 4 (twice) and the World Service of the BBC.
God, I sound dead successful here at this old drama business! Why did I pack that in? Well, I wrote a play about assassinating the Prime Minister (on Kindle as the novel Remote Control) and it was produced by the Traverse, but it was the best radio play I'd written and the BBC wouldn't broadcast it, so I took the hump! I'm not really much of a team player and the Artistic Director of the Traverse departed, and I went to live in Australia for a bit, and I became the primary carer for my baby daughter, which I found at bit awkward during rehearsals.
Anyway, I was happy to walk away from drama, which I wrote between drafts of novels, after being involved in that scene for ten years. I always wanted to write prose anyway.
I became interested in meditation (about twenty five years ago now!)when I was about thirty five and as time went on that gradually started to edge everything else out of the way.
This was around the time I had a novel called City Whitelight published in hardback (by Mainstream Publishing) and in paperback (by Fontana) and I was getting loads of offers about drama then, but with the baby ... well, your priorities change.
I was going to become a schoolteacher when I had Are You Boys Cyclists? published by Serpents Tail. I took the advance from that and went to India and Nepal with a friend of mine, and when I came back wrote The Buddha and the Big Bad Wolf, which has been so far accepted by two publishers, but one went broke and the other seems to have gone mad.
By this time my kid was about twelve and I had to get a full time job!!! Disaster! While working full time as a school librarian, I wrote two books for kids from about ten to fourteen. I loved writing these books. When I finished them, I gave them to kids to read, telling them they were written by an unpublished novelist called Alison Main who was looking for criticism. I gave out questionnaires. The kids loved both books. Getting the folders back from the kids and seeing their big smiling faces is probably the best thing that I've ever experienced as a writer. Adults maybe like books. Kids sometimes love them!
I didn't realise what a racket publishing for that age group was. Despite all the rave reviews from kids, I only ever got one agent to look at one of the books!! So thank God for Kindle!!
Then I fell foul of the people who ran the school I was working at. This experience is the basis of TheBlissBook, well, half of it. It's really a semi autobiographical account of working in a bog standard comprehensive as a school librarian and practising Vajrayana Buddhist meditations. I went part time at my job to write this. And I got an agent for this book almost as soon as I finished writing it. Humourous book!
The agent tried like hell to sell that book! Also, took it to the Frankfort and London Book Fairs. And failed to sell it. The next year he took The Real McCoy, which I had adapted for radio in the long ago, and failed to sell that. In between failing to sell these, he also failed to sell In the Land of the Demon Masters, one of the books for younger readers.
I re-wrote Remote Control for him. This I had adapted at one point for the radio, the one about blowing up the Prime Minister, but I re-wrote it thirty years after writing it the first time, but I never gave it to the agent since I heard from elsewhere that he might be a crook! Just my luck! Just as well he never sold any of my books after all. But he might have been straight enough with me because if he'd robbed me, I would have had to ....
So then I gave up the job share soon after. A friend of mine who really like The Buddha and the Big Bad Wolf, and tried to get it published to no avail, has been uploading all my ten books onto Kindle for the last month or so. We've still got three to do. (They are not all up there!)
My books on kindle fall into several categories. The ones which are autobiographical in one way or another are:
Alma Mater,(which is about my time at university)
Are You Boys Cyclists?,
The Buddha and The Big Bad Wolf,
City Whitelight and Ancient Futures are set in places without any real place in geography or time. They're page turners, or they're supposed to be!
The Real McCoy is my favourite. Itstarts with a candidate for the Presidency being shot and it tells his story as flashbacks from his conversations with God. It's a comic satire on American politics. The candidate can levitate!
Remote Control is the crime book about the drug dealer who becomes inveigled with the security services in a plot to blow up the Prime Minister. I'm currently working on the second Jimmy McGovern novel
In the Land of the Demon Master and Bugtown were written as fantasies for school kids, but they could be read by anyone. The latter is funny and the former says something about Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.