I import industrial quantities of Class A drugs, kill people and lie (a lot) for a living, being a British based crime fiction writer.
I became obsessed with motorcycles at an early age, taking a six hundred mile cross-country tour to Cornwall as soon as I bought a moped at the tender age of sixteen and after working as a London dispatch rider, I built my first chopper in my bedroom at university, undeterred by the fact that my workshop was upstairs.
Armed with a MBA degree, I worked in insolvency and business restructuring in the UK and Africa which inspired my first novel The Liquidator a conspiracy thriller set in East Africa. Whatever you do, don't take it on holiday as your safari reading!
This was then followed by my 'Biker Lit' series of the Brethren outlaw motorcycle club crime thrillers, set amongst UK outlaw bikers which is now in TV development.
Today I live off the grid, high up on the North Pennines in Northumberland with my wife, dogs, and a garage full of motorcycle restoration projects and I'm working on a number of book projects.
Q When and why did you start on the path to become an author?
New Year’s Day 1994, recovering from a mammoth hangover at a friend’s hut in a village half way up Kilimanjaro by reading Iain Bank’s Complicity at one sitting and thinking, so how do you start creating a plot like that? It’s been downhill, literally, from there.
Q Who are your two most favourite authors? And why?
The two that really inspired me to pick up a pen and have a go. Iain Banks for his plots as above, and John LeCarré for the way he develops an absorbing atmosphere and ambience in the Smiley series. That he went on to write The Constant Gardener, one of the best ever Kenyan books was just fantastic.
Q Do you read books that are the same genre as your work?
I’m best known for my biker books series.
I’d read Hells Angels Hunter S Thompson’s seminal work as a teenager which fascinated me and I’d then read anything else I could find on outlaw bikers and bike gangs and the idea of writing something that took the culture seriously had been on my mind for years before I picked up a pen, back in those days before Sons of Anarchy splashed SAMCRO across the world’s screens.
After Sonny Barger published his autobiography there seems to have been an increasing flow of outlaw motorcycle club based books and so I read a lot of factual, very much ‘so called’ in some cases, books about biker culture particularly but I tend not to read much biker fiction as given my magpie mind I’d just end up stealing bits that I wanted to use in my own books.
I also read a lot of true crime and books on British gangland by way of research and for The Liquidator, my first book I also read a lot around the Rwandan genocide as well as East African histories covering Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar.
Q Who do you write for? The audience or yourself?
Being honest, myself in the first instance as my books are things I just need to get out. But then the pleasure of messing with reader’s minds I suppose is also quite a selfish one.
Q Are you totally separated from your characters or is there a bit of you inside?
There’s a core or nugget of autobiography in all my books to a greater or sometimes much lesser extent. There has to be for me to be able to write myself into the characters and understand the logic of the choices they make.
Q What’s your technique? Plan it out or make it up as you go?
A mix. I tend I have a theme or an idea, which becomes a bit of an outline that becomes a stronger skeleton as I go, but the characters always have a way of revealing hidden twists and motivations as they get involved.
There was never actually meant to be a Brethren outlaw motorcycle club crime thriller series. The first book, Heavy Duty People, was a standalone exploring how and why a character might end up as what they were and what might be involved in becoming a gangster. The second book, Heavy Duty Attitude, just happened when two of the characters met up in my head about 1 months later and then they were off, I was just along for the ride, and it’s gone on from there.
Q Tell us a secret…what’s your guilty pleasure?
I murdered my ex-boss – I had him garrotted in one of my books. That was very satisfying.