What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The freedom to use imagination and that mysterious thing called 'experience' which we're always told when young that we haven't got enough of.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The need to visit the loo (bathroom in the US and doubtless elsewhere), plus the knowledge that I'm still alive.
What are you working on next?
Trying to publicise my self-published books, alongside writing others. I don't really like advertising to friends on Facebook since they are genuinely friends and good acquaintances. It seems wrong to push things their way for money. But then again, I can't give books away - printers don't give their efforts away.
There's a sequel to Loft Island on the drawing board.
The second is a bit exploratory at the moment, about 2 mid-teen types who are very different in upbringing and attitude, and the results of very different parenting styles. Set in Northumbria.
The third is based on local geography - as it might have been - near my home town of Seaford, Sussex, England. Again, it's in the very early stages so far but is set in the 1960's so there's a chance of people having forgotten what the feel of the time was really like. Unless they're my age.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order: Terry Pratchett, Monica Edwards, JRR Tolkien, Michael Morpurgo, Geoffrey Trease, William Mayne, Arthur Ransome, Ordnance Survey.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Cooking, arguing with Judy, on Facebook, reading; being a bell ringer, NCI Watchkeeper, Bluebell Railway Guard, sleeping and very occasionally watching TV - or being lazy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm ashamed to say having just published my first eBooks, that I rarely read them. However, in a traffic jam (thank you, M25) being able to download one and read on my phone was a sanity-saver.
We both prefer the printed word and being able to hold that old friend, The Book, in our hands. That's why I shall be publishing all my offerings in paper-and-print format too.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. At school. It was an essay about a boy dreaming about being lost in a fog. I came across it the other day and was reasonably impressed by my 11 year old self's writing ability. It will probably fit onto 2 sides of A4: I was a lazy schoolboy.
What is your writing process?
With any luck it begins with a brainwave. Maybe a comment from someone, or an injustice we have allowed to creep into our lives without resistance. Or a brain f**t as some of my less polite friends would say. Having done that there are times when I know where I want the story to go. Sometimes I don't - which is what happened with The Suspects. Usually the answer to the question "what would or could happen next?" completely derails the train and it's then my job to build new tracks so it goes somewhere else. Maybe it ends up at the original destination. Maybe not.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Probably an Enid Blyton. It would have excited me and maybe I got to like the characters. It took a very few years to get annoyed at being condescended to by her. In contrast Monica Edwards books treated younger people with respect and gave them dignity. Both in real life and in my writing I do my absolute utmost to do the same. Just because your number of years on the planet is fewer than the majority doesn't mean you aren't worthy of respect. Your character as defined by your conversation and actions should decide the respect level.
How do you approach cover design?
I was lucky with "The Suspects". A flash of inspiration - well, flashed at me. Then a contact at Worthing Book Fair brought a contact for Simon Mitchener and he agreed to produce what you now see. Some of his portfolio is at his DeviantArt website. For Loft Island I more or less knew what I wanted, and found it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings (Tolkien): Use of language is second to none, as is Tolkien's inventiveness, depth of feeling or understanding. It is a deeply satisfying book which nevertheless leaves a feeling of lasting, deep poignancy.
The Wild One (Monica Edwards): A deep understanding of people, the wild parts of England, widllife, farming. She allows children and young adults to be themselves, does not condescend, and values their spirit and abilities.
We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea (Arthur Ransome): A totally believeable tale of a family of four youngsters accidentally slipping their anchor and being blown out into the North Sea. A triumph of received seamanship from the eldest, helped by younger siblings, bringing them safely to port - albeit in Holland. The subsequent reaction from adults is heartwarming.
Anything by Michael Morpurgo: his economic use of English doesn't so much just tell stories but expounds sagas, but in some incredibly thin volumes. He is an amazing author. He can bring laughter and tears from a reader in equal measure. You're inclined not to forget any one of his books. Never be fooled into regarding him as a chldren's author. His themes and his style will wrap around any adult with an iota of emotion in them.
Scouting for Boys (Baden Powell): written over a century ago it enthused and instructed me when I read it 50 years later. Nowadays it has to be read with its age firmly in mind, because many of the attitudes it demonstrates are unacceptable. The past is a foreign land: they do things differently there. But for practical tuition in the natural world and in adventure and in teaching skills it still has a lot to offer. Just don't fall foul of the Health & Safety enthusiasts.
What do you read for pleasure?
I will dip at random into a book and drink in the style. If I like it and the book's summary I'll read more and borrow or buy a copy (Sorry authors but we have a small house and LOTS of books already!)
Describe your desk.
Armageddon just happened. I work onthe layer principle.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In a loving household in Hove, Sussex. School taught be English - thank you Liz Cottle - and presumably influenced my writing, but my attempts to fight with the English Langauge really started when trying to avoid the boredom threatened by replying to a myriad of very similar complaint letters by using the same formula.
When did you first start writing?
At school, as you'd expect. The first attempts at full scale stories aka books were about 20 years ago. In fact Loft Island was started then, before Suspects, but lay gathering dust for ages while I tried tot work out timescales.