My writing career really began in 2004, when the company I worked for added a set of general interest newsgroups to its intranet, a bit like internet forums for discussing hobbies and random chat over lunchtimes and coffee breaks. How they were allowed to stay running given the amount of time some people spent on there I’ll never know, but I’m glad they did because if they hadn’t, no one would have had the bright idea of setting up a writing group.
The idea of being a writer had always appealed to me. So when one of the regular contributors suggested a fortnightly writing challenge — someone picks a title and you have two weeks to write whatever comes to mind — I decided to have a go. The first title was “The Gift”, and my response to that challenge was more of a page-killer than a page-turner. Next was “The Game”, which produced a story I’m still quite pleased with even though it’s probably not of publishable quality in its current form. Then, a few challenges down the line, someone suggested “Double Vision”.
The story was pretty well recieved, and so, after a bit of rewriting and a change of title (to “Second Sight“), I found a likely looking magazine via a Google search and sent it off. It was taken up pretty quickly, and that magazine was “The Book of Dark Wisdom” — my first ever fiction sale, and one I was lucky enough to make at the first attempt.
My writing to date has been heavily influenced by the writers I was most interested in when I was younger. In those days my reading was narrow but deep — if I took a liking to an author I would read everything they ever did but would rarely branch out even within the genre (a bad habit I’ve since got over!) As a result though my early SF writing had the influence of Arthur C Clarke all over it (though my first SF novel is in the vein of Michael Crichton), and my horror writing shows the clear signs of a childhood spent reading H P Lovecraft and playing Call of Cthulhu.
Nowadays my reading has more breadth, which I hope is reflected in my writing. I’ve also joined a couple of writers’ groups (first the awesomely accomplished T-Party, later renamed Gravity’s Angels, which has a number of award-winning, agented, and mainstream-published authors, then more recently Spectrum London Writers which also has its fair share of success stories), and if I’m honest I’d recommend a critiquing group like this to any writer — no matter how good that writer thinks they are or has been told they are. You would be amazed at the things that come up when you sit round a table with a group of a dozen or so fellow writers who have read a story of yours and are telling you what they thought of it — plot ideas you never thought of, plot holes you never saw, character flaws, suggestions for restructuring; my own writing has come on in leaps and bounds since joining these groups and if nothing else being a member gives me a group of people I can rant to when the inevitable rejections come in.
For the future I have two novels complete, another couple underway (potentially a trilogy), and a few more story ideas bubbling away which will hopefully see the light of day (or the dark of night depending on the genre) before too long. Keep an eye on the homepage of this site for any further developments.
Life Beyond Writing
I was born in London before moving at a very early age to Leeds where I grew up. After school and sixth form I went to Manchester University to study Aeronautical Engineering (prompted by a lifelong fascination with anything that flies — the faster the better). When I got my B.Eng I then moved back down to the South of England to take up my first job. I now live in East Sussex, and work in the aerospace research field doing such fun stuff as windtunnel testing, aircraft design, writing the software for flight simulators, and development of A.I. autopilots (all of which comes in very useful for the more hard-SF elements of my fiction — so maybe this doesn’t count as life beyond writing at all…)