As I have been involved with the written word, one way or another, for most of my working life, it might seem odd that I have never written any fiction since I was at school.
For a long time I assumed that my expertise was in helping others to write - both children and adults, but then my wife suggested I have a go at writing something myself...
One of the things that had always persuaded me I couldn't write was my lack of ideas, but I've learnt that using a prompt - anything from a picture to three random words, or a piece of dialogue, gets me off the starting blocks and now I just take a deep breath and dive in.
Writing my short stories I couldn't seem to plan anything in advance, my mind just went blank, so I just went with it, not knowing how the story would end or what would happen to the characters along the way. But one way or another, they always ended up on a journey of some sort, with choices to make along the way.
I've come to realise that the concept of journeying has become a central theme in my writing, hence the title of my short story anthology Shifting Horizons. I also have a fascination with the ordinary, every day, and am always interested in snippets of conversation I overhear. For instance, yesterday I was walking down the road; two women walked past me and the conversation went something like:
'I told her I'm not doing it any more. It's ridiculous.'
'I don't blame you, she's way out of line.'
And then they were gone. I started imagining all sorts of scenarios: Was it something at work? What was she being asked to do? Who was out of line? Was the out-of-line woman really being unreasonable?
There was a story just itching to be written - or maybe even a book.
I also love the humour of the ordinary and try to cpature it in amy writing. We were in a small tea shop in Bridlington and the exchange between the woman behind the counter and a regular customer went like this:
'Do you want butter on your scone, Joan?'
'Don't worry if you've already put jam on.'
'But do you want butter?'
It's alright, don't worry, Brenda.'
Brenda is now losing patience and the knife is hovering over the scone. 'So shall I put butter on or not?'
'Only if it's not too much trouble.'
I can't wait to find a place for this little nugget in my writing.
Above all, though, I want to write a good story that keeps the reader, and myself, gripped. My next book is a full-length novel and I'm on a steep learning curve and learning the hard way that to produce a full-length book involves planning - something new to me, but I'm enjoying the ride! Find out more about From Manchester to the Arctic on my What I'm Writing page.