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I have written over 300 books, including poetry and poetry anthologies, fiction, non-fiction and text books. A complete list can be found at magic-nation.com.
I have far too many hobbies to fit the available time. I have a particular interest in the history of London and its burial grounds – I run a website on this topic at www.londonburials.co.uk. I am particularly fond of the novels of Charles Dickens, particularly those set in London. I have always been a science fiction fan, and my favourite all-time author is J G Ballard. Other than this, I love travel (especially to Italy) and wildlife (especially botany). I am an obsessive photographer of wild flowers, especially non-descript weeds growing in gutters and cracks in pavements, which results in some very odd looks from passers-by.
I really started when I was ten years old. I had been written of in my early days at primary school – my teacher told my parents that I had such serious problems with writing and spelling that I would ‘never achieve anything’. A new teacher made all the difference. He decided that the whole class should enter an RSPCA story writing competition – including me! Needless to say I didn’t want to, as I was ashamed of my writing.
Then the big surprise – I won a prize! not the top prize – I won six shillings and sixpence (32 ½ p) which I was obliged to spend on a fountain pen.
Winning this did the trick. I had a new self-confidence, and the problems started to go away. (Not entirely – I’m still dyslexic in some respects). I became a teacher, writing for fun, then left teaching to take up full time writing in 1986.
The secret of my success? READING. That teacher that wrote me off hadn’t spotted that although my writing was bad I was a voracious reader. Get inspiration from reading – not necessarily what the books are about, but the way the author goes about writing them. Remember, there are no new stories.
One reason that I like writing science fiction is that you don’t need to do any research – you can make it all up! This is a bad idea though if you are writing non-fiction books. Most research now is done on the internet, though you have to be careful which sites you use as some are a lot more accurate than others. Check two or three sites to make sure they say the same thing.
Read a lot. Think hard about the structure of your writing, whatever sort of writing it is. If you need to find out how stories are written, read mythology. Every sort of story can be found there, and no-one has improved on them. A writing partner is good – most of what I do is co-written. to a greater of lesser extent, with my wife, Ransom author Helen Orme.
I’m currently working on a graphic novel with Peter Richardson, illustrator for the Boffin Boy series. Find out more at www.cloud109.com
I regularly run workshops in schools, often double-heading with Helen. These are generally limited to central southern England.
We also do in-service sessions for teachers. Details of costs, etc. at www.magic-nation.com
You can contact me through the website or direct at email@example.com