Having had a few short stories published, in 2001 I was accepted on to the MA in Creative Writing at Northumbria University, a two-year, part time course that covered both poetry and prose. In 2003 I graduated with a distinction and won the Blackwell Prize for Best Performance. Whilst I was on the course I finished my first novel The Boy I Love, which was published in July 2005 and went on to the top the Independent Publisher chart on Amazon. Since then I have had three more novels published: Paper Moon, (which won the Andrea Badenoch Award) Say You Love Me and The Good Father (which was long-listed for the Impac Prize). In 2003 Mudfog published a collection of my poetry, Service. At the moment I am working on my fifth novel. I also teach writing at Adult Education colleges and have taught on the MA courses for Teesside, Northumbria and Newcastle universities – teaching writing to students of all abilities and trying to draw out the best in their writing. I am often asked to read my work in venues throughout the country.
The previous paragraph reads as though my writing has always met with success, but of course before those ‘few short stories’ were published I struggled for many years – writing and destroying a couple of novels, discarding still more after a few pages, sending other novels off to agents and publishers with a great deal of hope and finger-crossing (and other magical thinking). Rejections followed; I’d write some more, give up, cry, start again, cry, start again. To be a published writer demands persistence and I would say a thick skin, but I’m not sure I have one of those, more an ability to get over the disappointments and convince myself that rejections aren’t meant personally, however much they hurt. My consolation was (and is – as rejections remain part of my life) that I tried my best, and wrote what I wanted to write about in my own way. I write about relationships, mainly those between brothers and fathers and sons; I write a lot about sexual relationships, too: jealousies and obsessions, adultery and promiscuity. I’m very interested in war, and how men returning from war are treated and how they attempt to fit back into civilian life.
I live near Middlesbough in north east England, am 48, married (since 1985) with two children – Kay, aged 24, and Greg, 23. There’s a bit about me on the web if you google my name, including a few reviews of my novels.