I have recently published my second novel, Distortion. A teenage boy buys a battered guitar in a charity shop and discovers the truth about his mum's past. I hope you enjoy it.
Outside Inside is my first novel, a story of love, betrayal and cider.
I’ve been writing seriously since my teens. At secondary school in Derby, my teachers were regularly bemused by my increasingly long and ambitious stories. When I was eleven, I wrote my own historical sitcom which was a total rip-off of Blackadder. I don’t think I actually showed it to anyone! I spent my teens learning the drums and guitar and writing songs. Music became an increasingly important part of my life. I was one of those archetypal teenagers listening to the John Peel radio show (and also Mark Radcliffe) under the duvet. I learned about Madchester, the rave scene and sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and wished I was old enough to join in. I bought Select magazine every month, as well as NME and Melody Maker.
All my music was on tape but the only opportunities for new tapes were at Christmas and record tokens on my birthday as my pocket money was fairly meagre. In the early 90s, we traded tapes at school and amongst friends. If someone (or their older brother or sister) had a particular album, we’d give them a blank C90 cassette. It would usually end up with something else as a bonus on the other side, to fill up the space.
When I was fifteen, one of my friends taped me Levelling the Land by the Levellers, a band which have been a big influence on me. ‘Outside / Inside’ is actually the name of a song from their first album. I found out about the road protest movement and new age travellers (who were big news in the early nineties) and was instantly fascinated. It was about this time that I got a flash of inspiration about a vegan inheriting his uncle’s butcher’s van and giving a lift to a naïve young runaway.
I went to university in Sheffield to study English Literature. We were the last generation of students without thousands of pounds of tuition fees hanging over our heads. I had a great time living the student dream of long lie-ins, sharing various dilapidated houses with friends in Hunter’s Bar, partying, dying my hair and going to lots of gigs. But I suppose one of the more serious things I did at university was to become a more dedicated vegetarian and campaign on animal rights issues. It was all very sensible though: lunchtime stalls in the Students’ Union – nothing like what Paul and his friends in Outside Inside get up to!
After university, I had grand ambitions of being an arty layabout, but somehow my work ethic kicked in! My first job was with an experimental theatre company, followed by a music education charity. I carried on writing in my spare time.
For some reason, I thought that I needed to become a bit more sensible, so in 2001, I started teacher training and worked as a secondary English teacher before returning to the community sector.
I then spent a happy three years working for an educational charity in the very multicultural area of Burngreave, Sheffield! I also enrolled on Sheffield Hallam University’s acclaimed MA in Writing.
The funding for regeneration and community projects started to dry up so I ended up in the corporate world, handling claims for a large utility company for a scary amount of time! However, I managed to complete my MA, which included the first successful draft of Outside Inside.
Since 2006, I’ve been regularly volunteering with Oxfam as a festival steward. I’ve gained valuable experience and I’ve made an amazing and ever-growing group of friends, as well as being able to go to festivals and see amazing bands for free! My festival stewarding experiences always give me fresh inspiration and helped to inspire Outside Inside as well as Distortion.
I now divide my time between writing, running my editing business, Wild Rosemary Writing Services, running courses as a creative writing tutor and working with people with learning disabilities in Sheffield.
I am currently working on my third novel and attempting to walk 1,000 miles in a year!