I have always loved stories!
One of the clearest memories from my childhood is my father reading a book to me before bedtime. It was called Teddy Bear Coalman and it was a really simple story of a teddy who also happened to deliver coal for a living. This was in the days when coalmen had long since disappeared, but that never bothered me. The fact that it was something that ‘used to be’, put it in the same category as dinosaurs and pirates, and so, somehow, it became blessed with the same magic.
Another thing that my father used to do was invent stories – pretty much on the spot. More often than not, they would be He-Man stories and he would act them out using the plastic toys as props. Alas, I cannot remember any details of these stories, although I am sure the good-guys always won.
As a child, I read a lot but I was never a voracious reader. I never consumed books in the way that some people do, but I always enjoyed reading. I ploughed through all of Roald Dahl & C. S. Lewis – core reading material for children growing up in 80s. I remember the day that Mathilda launched and the excitement of having a hardback copy.
The funny thing is that I cannot really remember reading any books for pleasure as a teenager. I’m sure I must have, but nothing really comes to mind. Music was my main source of creative output during those years and books struggled to get a look in. My parents tell the story that I got Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights one Christmas and immediately dismissed it as a ‘girly book’. Oh well!
Although reading may not have been my thing as a teenager, that didn’t mean that stories weren’t important. When we went on long car journeys, I would listen to audiobooks on my walkman. One story that I remember particularly liking was called ‘The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot’ by Robert Arthur. It was set in Hollywood in the 60s and told the story of three boys who were also private investigators, who were employed intermittently by Alfred Hitchcock to find his actor friend’s missing parrot. It sounds bizarre when I think of it now, but, at the time, it all made perfect sense.
Then there was TV. This was the 90s, so multi-channel TV and on-demand services were still a few years away. I remember watching some US TV dramas that my friend, who had satellite TV, had recorded for me and marveling at how creative and engaging some of these stories were.
It was only once I got to university that I rediscovered books. I remember a friend convincing me to try David Eddings’ Belgariad series and (after an initial snobbish reaction) being completely taken in by this unusual new world, filled with compelling characters. Shortly after followed Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and The Shannara series. Before I knew it, I was a full-on fantasy-story lover – something which has stayed with me.
Then there was detective fiction, with Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot – characters with two totally different approaches to crime solving – standing head and shoulder above the others. And more contemporary masters like John Rebus and Harry Hole kept me turning the pages and trying to guess what was going to happen next.
If I was ever to write a book of my own, it was always likely to be in one of these two genres. But it wasn’t until I started throwing ideas around for the story that eventually became The Greyfield, that I decided to combine them.
So stories have always been a part of my life and so it’s a real thrill to be able to say that I am now a published author – A STORYTELLER!