The Joy of Developing a Story
The single biggest thrill is seeing the story unfold as if you're reading something for the first time. Until I started my first full length novel I hadn't discovered the magic of not knowing what happens next, and then gasping with surprise at what appears on the page. While I'm in that creative bubble I frequently blurt out 'Gosh (or some other expletive), I didn't expect that!' It's like some storytelling demon is whispering in your ear what to write next. Traditionalists call this demon the 'Muse'.
Fans of my Books
Of course fans mean everything. I'm a great admirer of the late Terry Pratchett and used to attend his Discworld weekend conventions in Wincanton, England. Aficionados from all over Europe used to converge on the small town for that annual event, many dressed up as characters from the novels. That kind of fan loyalty is surely what every novelist aspires to. It not only gets books flying off the shelves, but it inspires the author to ever greater achievements. And years after his passing there still are a great many Discworld events happening worldwide.
The First Story I Wrote
It was a short ghost story set in the Falkland Islands. The idea came from a journal I wrote about my experience on a visit to see the wildlife on Sea Lion Island. The novella was called Diddle Dee, and I've recently rewritten and published it under the same name.
My father was in the RAF and met my German mother during the allied occupation just after WWII. From the age of two we moved around various military bases in Europe, rarely staying anywhere for than a year or so. I went to British Forces schools until I was ten, when my Dad retired from the RAF and we settled in Leeds. As soon as I could leave school (fifteen in those days) I 'ran away' to sea and spent twenty five years in the Royal Navy.
Never staying anywhere long enough to make lasting friendships was probably what drove me first to reading, but very soon to writing as well - I believe the one inspires the other. All that travelling left me with the legacy of itchy feet, and that's why travelling and exotic locations features so heavily in my work.
The Impact of my Early Reading
I was an avid reader as a child, but one set of stories remains in my memory, though I can't remember the titles or who wrote them. They were sea stories about the adventures of a salvage tug captain working around Malaysia and Indonesia. I couldn't have been much older than ten at the time and I don't even remember much about the plots. But my fascination for all things nautical started at that point and has been with me ever since.
My Reading Choices Today
Because I read mainly to improve my own writing I'm very eclectic in my choices. I read fiction: sea adventures and historical naval novels, quirky books with subtle humour, good thrillers (and sometimes badly written ones), and some crime fiction and science fantasy/fiction..
My Favourite Authors
I have many favourites, but I'll just mention a few whose work I find particularly inspiring. I love Pratchett for his sense of fun, pathos, and incisive satire. In a similar vein I enjoy Neil Gaiman's novels. For action scenes and complex plot chicanery I draw inspiration from Ian Rankin, Lee Child, and of course the late great Stieg Larsson. Another great Swedish writer is Jonas Johansson whose simple and direct voice and style is endearingly easy to read, and his preposterous tales are laced with irony and satire. Of my more recent readings, Gillian Flynn's Girl Gone and Andy Weir's The Martian, though at opposite ends of the genre spectrum, are great examples of a fresh and modern style with explosive impact.
The Next Novel
Having got To Run Before the Sea and The Travel Agent out there, Rosie Winterbourne's next, The Conflicted Bride, is due out later in 2021.