When I started my very first school I was given a book and a pencil and told to write ‘My news’. We had to write about what had happened to us and we did it every week. When my parents went to their first parent teacher meeting they were amazed to read about all the exciting things that happened to their 4 year old son. “Today I got chased by a Landrover” was one of their particular favourites.
I made up stories all the time. It’s not that I was a particularly untruthful child, more that my life simply wasn’t exciting enough. You could say that I used to lie a lot but then maybe that’s what writers are: professional liers.
I started my first novel in 1989 when I was in my final year at university. Through my teens I had been obsessed with being a musician, singing and playing in a band, writing songs, gigging, recording demos etc. Then final year hit and I tried to knuckle down to some studying, I stopped playing, stopped writing songs and within a few weeks I was writing a novel.
It was set in a dystopian future (although that would be in the past now!) where an epidemic of mental illness had created a declining society. The protagonist was a character slipping into what he thought was mental illness but was actually slipping into the past, or possibly the other way around.
I never finished it. I did finish university, but then picked up my guitar again and stopped writing the book. For the next few years I kept up with the music, but then life takes over. I fell in love, got married and stopped writing songs about heartache and loss. I trained as a teacher and got a job. Music was hard to keep up and in 1997 I started to paint. From that point until about 2013 I was fairly obsessive. There was a lot to learn but I was able to work with some friends who painted which helped, and my Dad, a professional painter, gave me a few pointers. I worked hard, started to produce some stuff I was happy with, even sold a few paintings. But stuff happens. I gained two kids and lost my Mum in the space of three years.
The kids got me telling stories again. I made up endless adventures, many of them based on books I’d read or legends that I knew. A particular favourite was a retelling of The Hobbit but with an elf princess heroine added in. Very important for two little girls, and pre dating Peter Jackson’s additions by about six years.
I remember sitting with them on the very top of Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, telling tales of Merlin and Arthur.
I got promoted at work and more busy and then my Dad got ill with dementia. Over the next few years I had to look after him more and more while juggling everything else. Something had to give and the painting went.
My Dad passed away in January 2013. In the September I started writing.
I started with an idea, (Fantasy novel set in an alternate dark age), a character (Luan, a boy) and a simple plan (I would write 100 words every day).
Three and a half years later and I have finished either one long book or three short ones, depending on how you look at it. I’ve written several short stories, two of which have been published. I’m half way through a Sci Fi novella. Over 100,000 words in total.
I think there is just a creative urge inside me. I have a need to make stuff. At the moment I make stories. Sometimes I think I have read so many books that the words have filled me to overflowing and now they tumble out. It makes sense to catch them while they are there.