Born November, 1946, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Seaside childhood punctuated by football, swimming, afternoons on the dodgems, run-ins with the police, multiple raids on the local library…plus near-total immersion in English post-war cinema classics including The Dam Busters, Ice Cold in Alex, The Wooden Horse, The Cockleshell Heroes and Reach For The Sky. War-crazy? Sort of…
Wins scholarship to a London boarding school and then onward to Cambridge University. Reads English, volunteers for Six-Day War (those films again!), and emerges three years later with five mercifully unpublished manuscripts, still intent on becoming a full-time novelist. Yet more rejection slips (plus hunger) compel a career rethink…
Becomes a promotion script-writer with Southern Television, then researcher, then director. Spends the next twenty years making ITV documentaries, many of them networked. Films seabed wrecks of the Titanic and the Bismarck (with American oceanographer Bob Ballard), profiles the Brighton Bomber, produces ITV’s account of Richard Branson’s near-fatal attempt to cross the Atlantic by balloon, wins a number of awards…but still dreams of getting into print.
An ITV commission for 6-part drama series Rules of Engagement is sucessfully finessed into a two-book contract with Pan-Macmillan. Two more novels, both dubbed “international thrillers” follow. Sacked after Television South loses the ITV franchise and embarks on new career as – at last – a full-time novelist.
Nervy time. Brand new start. Huge adventure. Can I keep the fridge at least half-full?
The answer, mercifully, is yes. In all, I pen seven “international thrillers” for Pan-Mac before joining Orion and delivering two more. Then comes a career swerve into crime fiction (Orion’s idea), and a dozen books featuring lead fictional cops D/I Joe Faraday and D/C Paul Winter, who pursue very separate agendas in the darker corners of Portsmouth (aka Pompey).
To Orion’s surprise, and my relief, the series is a success. Foreign sales are healthy and the French, bless them, embark on a series of lavish feature film-length adaptations for transmission on France-2. The Gallic version of Pompey? Le Havre. Two books in the series are shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Prize and Orion agree to a spin-off series featuring young D/S Jimmy Suttle, all set in East Devon.
Then comes another change of fictional direction. After sixteen years in the cri-fi gulag, desperate for a new challenge, Lin and I find ourselves in N/W Spain, living out of the back our our ageing camper van. A chance encounter in a Galician fishing village prompts a WW2 novel. Thanks to publisher Head of Zeus, “Finisterre” becomes the first in a series of WW2 novels, “The Spoils of War”, each book loosely interlinked by recurring characters, both fictional and real. “Finisterre” is short-listed for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, and four more novels follow, with a couple still to be published. At this point, my career has come full-circle and I’m back with my childhood first love: six years of much-chronicled mayhem in the world’s biggest crime scene, aka The Second World War.
In the meantime, I’ve also launched a series of contemporary thrillers, published by Severn House. Narrated in the first person by Anglo-Breton actress Enora Andressen, they offer an unusual marriage of complex family saga, and issue-driven entanglements. Launch title? “Curtain Call”. Three published books to date, with at least three more to come. Busy? Well, yes….
Back in the real world, I’m celebrating twenty-eight years of marriage to the delectable Lin. We have three grown-up boys – Tom, Jack and Woody – plus three corking grand-kids, Dylan, Patrick and Daisy.
Lifetime ambition? To master colloquial French. Current passion? Coastal quad rowing with Lin and the rest of The Vulcaneers (don’t ask).
Favourite time of the day? Six’o’clock…..