Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have written a trilogy. It’s a biographical memoir I can’t call it an autobiography because I’ve had to change so many names and places. So biographical memoir it is. It originally started in the mid 90s as a therapy for my own abuse as a child. It was later developed further as I had to come to terms with my own actions and published in 2012.
I am now 70 years old so it’s quite a life to look back on. But I’ve been luckier than most – I use the strap-line, “The Triumph of love over adversity”. I am currently creating an audio book of this.
More recently I was approached by a ‘bricks and mortar’ publisher to write a book about the correct usage of the apostrophe. I’m a bit of a pedant and grammar nut and have developed a unique system for dealing with this. This book is called “Apostrophe Catastrophe” and is available in bookshops.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“The Clouds Still Hang” is a complete trilogy which is a candid, true memoir of a gay man’s life, telling a story of love and loyalty, betrothal and betrayal, triumph and tragedy; charting one gay man’s attempts to rise above the legacy of a traumatic childhood.
The first book deals with Simon’s childhood friendship and eventually love affair with an older boy and early sexualisation, the second the trauma of his teenage years and early adulthood, the third his struggle to maintain equilibrium and the disastrous consequences of his failure at one point to achieve that and his fight back to self acceptance.
Based on the author’s own life, it will strike a chord with many who have been through similar things, as well as those with an interest in such matters, either personal or professional, such as police and probation officers, those involved with the gay / LGBT community etc.
It’s a varied, exciting, demanding, sometimes terrifying life story. Of adult nature in places, it contains some explicit sexual narrative, including sexual violence.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m not sure what you mean by unusual. I’ve always used a keyboard, mainly because it’s faster than handwriting and I can even read it afterwards! In the 90s when I started writing about my 1950s childhood I was using a BBC Model B computer, but later switch to a PC. Luckily I found someone who could convert the files I had already written for me. I like to be alone to write, and therefore often start in late evening and type into the small hours. Or if family are away and I’m alone, I start in the morning and type into the small hours! I have a filer coffee machine.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’ve always liked writing stories and not even school could drum that out of me. I remember once when I was in the police (as you might read) an inspector said of statement about an incident, “It reads like an adventure story, I couldn’t put it down and I could visualise exactly what was happening.” I thought he was being critical and offered to rewrite it, but he said absolutely not.
I’m not sure if any author has influenced me as such. I started with Enid Blyton, move on the Conan-Doyle, and later Grahame Greene, Isaac Asimov, Ian Fleming, Len Deighton Le Carré and others. But I think my style has always been my own.
What are you working on now?
I’m not writing at the moment as I have a lot of other stuff going on. But with regard to the book, my efforts are going into publicity and trying to generate sales for “The Clouds Still Hang”. I am working in a audio version and to date (April 2016) have done the first volume, “The Book of Daniel”.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Having done some website design, I made my own website for the book. http://www.thecloudsstillhang.com/
I also use Facebook and even more, twitter. Not just to tweet about the book which I do often, but also other matters that are important to me, such as LGBT issues, criminal justice, social justice etc. I carry cards with me about the book which I give to people who might be interested, or leave them lying around in likely fertile places.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Writing it is the easy bit! Getting it out there, publicity, marketing; that’s the hard graft. So be prepared for a long slog.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
That’s a hard one. I have mainly found my own way in this. Probably when someone said, go on twitter, which I had never bothered to do. But not just to keep tweeting about the book, to to extend the audience by engaging in other matters as well.
What are you reading now?
A biography of Steve Jobs.
What’s next for you as a writer?
To complete the audio version of “The Clouds Still Hang”. I have a couple of very vague ideas for novels, but I can’t say whether I’ll ever get round to them.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I know it’s a cliché but Shakespeare. My readers will know of my affinity for Hamlet, but I’m told he wrote a few other things. 🙂 I’d like to take the complete Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, some Asimov and Greene. And my own book, in case I forget who I am!