I was born in west Wales a while ago, and started my professional life as a musician – playing piano from a very young age, then studying composition and contemporary music at university.
Back in the early 1990s I eaked out a living writing music for film and theatre, performing the majority of the scores myself in a tiny recording studio that was floor-to-ceiling with what at the time was some of the best electronic equipment on the market. We're not talking samplers and direct-to-digital here – this was back in the days of analogue tape, razor blade editing and doing the whole damn thing again if a note was wrong! The most advanced thing in the studio was a huge Korg T1 syth (bought from Iron Maiden) and an open-reel Tascam recorder that was about as portable as a pallet of bricks. From here emerged bucolic scores for stage adaptations of Cider with Rosie and Great Meadow, insane piano riffs for The Turn of The Screw and a huge soundscape for a touring photographic exhibition.
Great days, great fun, not much of a living. I did summer seasons working the classical music festivals (yes, there are such things!) as a sound and lighting engineer and met a lot of wonderful people. But it was never going to be a living...
I first started writing in 1998 with a children's adventure book that involved a girl with a magical photo album that could transport her through her family's history in search of the father she never knew. It was never going to be good enough for publication, but it got me started. I wrote a total of nine novels for children before publishing 'Midwinter Lucie', a seriously creepy ghost story that includes one chapter described by a reviewer as 'one of the scariest things I have ever read!' The book sold well, and was picked up by 'Book and Magazine Collector' as a title worth investing in for the future. This sent sales stratospheric and helped launch the follow-up 'The Black Pear.
But I was never going to be happy writing for children. Too restrictive. Not enough swearing and violence.
In 2010 I launched a cross-over novel 'Firestorm: Descent', planned to be the first of a trilogy of dysoptian novels retelling Dante's Inferno. I published it initially on Wattpad, where an early version of the book has garnered almost 200,000 reads to date. It was a useful exercise in writing long-form novels (100,000+ words), and the full cycle has become a long-term project. The second book (Realm of Violence) is published in Spring 2017. The final instalment (Malebolge) is plotted and outlined, and will be out some time towards the end of the decade. Descent was also the end of my apprenticeship as a writer. Someone once said (I think it was Jonathan Miller) that to be a decent writer, you have to write a million words to learn the craft. I'd now written my million, and it was time to settle into my final genre.
I have always been fascinated by the outer reaches of the human mind - whether expressed as academic brilliance, profound intuition or mental illness. In the three adult novels I have published since 2012, I've covered all three. This has led me to the most satisfying area of exploration so far: a ruthless, brilliant investigator by the name of Leila Reid, who first appears in 'Sleeper Cell' on the trail of a terrorist plot, and who will be a regular recurring character in the years to come.
Outside of writing, my passion is my art collection. I love twentieth century modern art, though my collection is slowing due to lack of wall-space! I also buy some contemporary works – right from the start I have always used my first payment for a new novel to acquire a work by a living artist – works by Polly Morgan, Michael Talbot and Anna Madia amongst others stand as monuments to the work involved in producing a new book (I've always hated Champagne; holidays are too transitory; and fast cars bore me!).
Other bits? I work one day a week on the in-patient unit of our local hospice - incredibly rewarding work. Half a day a week for Cats' Protection (technical back-office stuff, not the actual cats!), and I serve on the boards of a couple of other charities. Other than that, Provence in the spring, Christmas in England, fine coffee, mountain air, rugby, Pink Floyd and puttering around the lanes on my Royal Enfield bike. Life's an adventure, and a short one at that. I try never to lose sight of that.