I spent my first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia, where my love of reading developed.
After dropping out of university I became a firefighter and after 19 years’ service, left to start my own business. I began writing in 2010 and spent eighteen months on my first novel. I learnt a lot, the main thing being that I needed to study the craft of writing. I spent the next six months reading all I could about writing and the book trade.
I produced two more manuscripts in the next year and submitted these to agents and publishers. Although I had improved with each effort, I received numerous rejections. I then joined South Manchester Writers' Workshop and two weeks later a publisher accepted Brotherhood.*
I like writing about protagonists with a strong moral code who, although not obvious outsiders, don’t necessarily fit in with conventional society. They get caught up in difficult situations because of their unwillingness to walk on by or turn a blind eye. They often have difficult experiences in their past that have scarred them.
The baddies are great to write and I try and show how they arrived at their current state, without diluting their effectiveness. Stints working as a ‘door supervisor’ in Manchester and on building sites in the west country brought me into contact with many interesting characters which have inspired some of the villains I write about.
Like a lot of fiction, my writing has a political dimension, as I show how the society they live in impacts on my characters’ lives.
My latest novel, Sunlight, is a departure from my first three books as it has nothing to do with the fire service and has a female protagonist. She works to expose corruption, bullying and hypocrisy and is dragged into a world of crime and violence by an act of kindness.
* Joining South Manchester Writers' Workshop is not a guarantee of finding a publisher, but it will help improve your writing.