Who are you?
I’m an English teacher and part-time writer living in the western suburbs of London. I teach GCSE English to students from Years 10 and 11 who are not engaged with mainstream, full-time education. The ones who have either been excluded or forced by other circumstances to leave school. I’ve also just started my first year of the PGCE, so the fact that I made it through my first year of teaching without in-depth training in pedagogy or classroom management is attributable to sheer blind luck.
When I write, it’s an eclectic mix of urban fantasy, steampunk, noir-ish drama and Lovecraftian horror through a variety of interesting methods. I write my final drafts on computer using Scrivener, but I write my first drafts in pencil, fountain pen and ink, or on an ancient, second-hand typewriter.
On very rare occasions I have been known to paint watercolours. If you’re exceptionally (un)lucky I’ll inflict my artwork on you later!
From 2008 to 2012 I was also one of the two creative forces behind eMergent Publishing, an Anglo-Australian, indie publishing house specialising in short fiction anthologies. I was also managing editor of Write Anything, eMergent’s website written by writers for writers, from 2010 when eMergent acquired it, to 2012 when it closed down.
What’s your background?
I was born in 1979 in Paisley, a large industrial town in the West of Scotland. I had a great childhood, something of a disappointment when you consider the stuff I write about. I can only assume someone dropped me on my head as a baby. I did grow up with the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe, so that might explain a few things…
I attended the University of Glasgow where I graduated with an LL.B. (Hons) in Scottish Law, and absolutely zero desire to become a lawyer. I continued my legal education at the University of Cambridge, reading for an LL.M. in International Law. I then spent two years out of academia trying to secure funding for a PhD (first at Cambridge, then at Glasgow, then the London School of Economics), eventually starting as a self-funded student at the London School of Economics supervised by Dr Gerry Simpson.
Towards the end of a troubled first year at LSE I became ill, then depressed (I have a recurring history of mental illness), and eventually took a one year interruption of studies that stretched to two years whilst I got my head around what I really wanted in life. In early 2007 I realised what I wanted wasn’t law. What I wanted to do was write. I officially withdrew from my doctoral studies at LSE in June 2007, and have been working on writing ever since, with some minor degree of success.
Urban Lovecraftian steamwhat?
OK, the genre tags aren’t really that important unless you’re a publisher, in which case I expect you to know them already.
For the reader, all that counts is whether I can entertain you, make you think, make you laugh, and make you scared of me.
I judge my writing by two simple criteria: does a story scare my mother; and does a story scare my wife. If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, then the story needs more work. As Julia says
“You, sir, are fucked up … you hit me with the figure hunched over the bodies, and that sent a cold shiver up my spine. Bastard.”