Hi John and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
I was born and brought up in South Manchester, before taking to a life at sea. Since then, I’ve lived all over the world, from the Solomon Islands to the Falklands, Cyprus, Holland and the Isle of Man.
Now my long-suffering wife and I have dropped anchor in York. Retirement has meant turning my hand to writing historical fiction, ( with a strong romantic thread.)
I have spent many years researching my family tree and I found a lively lot of ruffians, rogues and chancers, all of whom are conveniently dead, so they can’t sue, and who make great subjects to write about.
My first novel, Heart of Stone, was published in October 2017 by Crooked Cat Books. I am now working on another historical romance, with the next generation of ancestors.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and what were the first steps you took towards this?
I bumped into a couple of authors a few years ago, and, as I got to know them, they rekindled an old longing I had had before. I had written animal stories – think sub-Beatrix Potter – for my kids when they were growing up. Now, thanks to retirement giving me the time and freedom to try it – and thanks to the pressure from my new writing friends – I was able to really “give it a go”
Heart of Stone, your debut novel had its foundations in historical fact. Are you planning to continue with this theme or would you be tempted to write something different – say crime or psychological thriller?
At the moment, I’ve got so much historical material available, its almost an embarrassment of riches. I’ve always loved historical fiction, and it would seem madness not to use it.
Your bio states ‘hedgehog wrangler’. It’s clear from your FB posts that you have a love of these small prickly creatures. What made you begin observing and feeding them and what other wildlife visitors come into your garden?
We were delighted when we saw the first one in our garden, four years ago. We started putting food out for him – the original Mr Snuffles, and he kept coming, and suddenly we found ourselves feeding several every night.
We never know how many are going to wake from hibernation, but there has been enough each year to keep us amused. We love having them. It means we can legitimately leave the garden to grow a little bit wild. That suits us too.
What would your advice be to new writers?
Just three words. DON’T GIVE UP!
You need to have faith in what you are doing, and you need to recognise that writing is a craft, and a craft we all must learn. Keep on writing, though, and keep on learning, and – sooner or later – you will make it.
It is SO worth it when you do. There is absolutely nothing quite like holding your first book in your hands.
And finally, you’re planning a year on a desert island, getting away from everything. What four essentials would you take with you and why?
Hmm….. Not just a record player and 8 records then?
Well, if it’s allowed, I would take my laptop, because its got my library on it, plus all my music, plus all my photos.
I would want to take my main cooking knife. I do a LOT of cooking.
An unlimited supply of paper and pencils, of course, so I can keep on writing.
A pillow! I do like to lay my head down in comfort at night.
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HEART OF STONE
A family riven by jealousy and love.
A story of the three Rochfort brothers, Robert, Arthur, and George, and Ireland at its most oppressed. Of passion and greed and the overarching power of love.
This is Empire at its most unfortunate. Here we have recruiting officers, press gangs seeking soldiers from the impoverished Catholic peasantry to swell the English army engaged in the War of Spanish Succession, famine, Dublin Castle, balls, country and city, a hideous debtor’s prison and importantly the disparity between wealth and poverty.