Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m from a BBC drama background and prior to that the military. Actually, I got into the BBC because I had specialised in photography in the army, but quickly found myself in the drama department because the then head of drama wanted to make a ‘Play For Today’ about a period of my life. I went on to make many films and TV drama series with the BBC. I left to pursue my writing career and had my military memoir published by The History Press in 2013. I had written the novel Raw Nerve prior to that and have written two more novels since.
What would you say is your more iconic novel and why?
I can’t choose a favourite. Each novel shines a spotlight on a social issue and can be perceived as controversial. For instance, I wrote Raw Nerve in 1997 with the premise: a scenario about why Colin Powell failed to run for the White House. Upon completing the first draft I sent it to an agent in New York (I live in Wales, UK) and was signed within a couple of days of her receiving the thick manuscript – in those days agents and publishers only accepted hard copy material. I soon found myself flying to New York and having meetings with HarperCollins and the Putnam Berkley Group (Penguin), both of whom expressed very strong interest. To cut a long story short the novel was considered too controversial for two reasons: in the novel America was electing their first black president and the Ku Klux Klan had a plan to ethnically cleanse the United States. I have published the novel on Amazon now and it’s getting great reviews from readers on Amazon’s UK site.
The focus of Delphian is on human and animal rights and my protagonist is out to ban vivisection. Delphian is also getting great reviews for all the right reasons.
Both Raw Nerve and Delphian are thrillers and with WTF I wanted to stretch myself as a writer and try my hand at a love story. The result is ‘not your typical’ love story with characters that express strong opinions. Readers have had a strong reaction to it, which is something that pleases me greatly.
Which writers and genres inspire you?
My biggest influence has to be Edgar Rice Burroughs. He created the iconic character of Tarzan and wrote fantastic stories. Rice Burroughs made Africa come alive in my imagination and I think I’ve spent far too much time day-dreaming about Africa since. I think the Tarzan stories have also made me more than a little misanthropic, which I don’t consider a bad thing.
But my favourite novel has to be Centennial by James Michener. The breadth of Michener’s storytelling is remarkable and his characters are people I feel I have had real experiences with. The character Little Beaver has lived with me since I first read the book.
Writers who inspire me are writers who have left me feeling I’ve lived an experience and I aspire to achieve that for my readers.
What do you find more interesting when writing thrillers?
Conflict lies at the heart of a thriller and for me the conflict will be focused on something I want to say – a point I want to make. The challenge is to find balance and create an opposing force at least as strong as the hero of the piece. I like to try and create reality in my novels and, as in real life, my fictional characters are a mixture of good and bad, which makes the challenge so much harder. In Delphian, for instance, I hope readers emotionally connect with some members of the intelligence community out to catch Vincent and Millie. And, whilst it’s important the heroes win out in the end, the reader needs to believe in the struggle to experience the tension. Also, I think when a writer develops good and bad aspects in characters on both sides of a conflict it can challenge the reader to, perhaps, look in the mirror. Maybe that’s a bit fanciful, but I’ve certainly learned interesting things about myself through fictional characters.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I was born a writer. I was scribbling stories as soon as I could write.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I personally see myself as a full-time writer with a part-time job. I have a TV studios very interested in one book at the moment – I have adapted all my novels to the screen – and, fingers crossed, if that does happens then I will be able to ditch the part-time job.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
When I start out I have a strong impression of how the story is going to go, but not how it will end. However, the characters always change my plans and I find myself quickly giving the characters a loose rein. I think the best lesson to learn for a novelist is to get out of the way of the characters. I see myself as a backseat writer with the main protagonist(s) driving the story forward.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
I am only interested in organic reviews from genuine readers.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I don’t seek to please all the readers all the time. When writing a novel I am only interested in pleasing myself. A good review is usually from someone who has finished the book and enjoyed it. A bad review is generally from someone who didn’t like the book for whatever reason. If I find myself reading a book I’m not enjoying I stop reading it. If I didn’t finish a book I feel I have no right to review it. The fact of the matter is it simply wasn’t my cup of tea. Why do reviewers who didn’t finish a book have any right to comment? And if they didn’t enjoy it, but finished it anyway, why did they finish it?
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
And, of course, I have had a memoir published by The History Press. The title is: In Sights: The Story Of A Welsh Guardsman.