I live on the outskirts of Ringmer, a village in East Sussex.
I am widely educated – thanks to five primary schools, two senior schools and three universities, not including the university of life.
I was not an easy child, and didn’t work much at school. I was bored as hell most of the time. My first job, at 12, thanks to my mother, was as a cleaner in a boy’s school. Cleaning their toilets every day gave me the necessary impetus to work a bit harder academically.
My mother’s strategy worked. I won a scholarship to a boarding school in north Wales – Dr Williams’, Dolgellau, at the foot of Cader Idris – a beautiful part of the world. Founded thanks to a legacy from Dr Daniel Williams, Doctor of Divinity, whose library in London remains one of the largest collection of non-conformist writing in the world, the school closed soon after I left. I don’t think the two events are linked in any way.
I went to Exeter University, studied French, did some ballroom dancing, spent a whole year teaching in St Etienne, which has one of the best football teams in France. There, I learned to smoke unfiltered cigarettes, how to spend all my salary on shoes, how to camp in disused quarry buildings when the academic year ended, and how to swim at night in the upper reaches of the Loire. I ended up with a smoky degree in French, after writing a dissertation on free will versus determinism in the work of Diderot and Voltaire.
My first ‘proper job’ was in London with the Ministry of Defence. I lived for a while in the YWCA opposite the British Museum, sharing a room with a girl who was going out with Michael Crawford. Later on, I qualified as a Human Resources Manager, worked in engineering companies, studied for an MBA, ran my own marketing consultancy, wrote features on education for county glossies.
Somewhere along the way I married and had two sons. I own a cat and two fish, and I don’t like cooked blackcurrants. (In case you are thinking of asking me for dinner.)
In 2002 I became a writer. I bought a copy of Austerlitz by W G Sebald, in a thunderstorm, the third of a 3 for 2 purchase from Waterstones. I sat down to read it when I got home. When I got up, I was an aspiring writer.
2002/3/4 I worked very hard, writing every day, studying both on a university course, and privately, online. I learned to write short stories and flash fiction. I wrote. Wrote more. I read. Read more. Submitted polished work. Got used to rejections.
2004 – I had my first few publications and a competition place.
2005 – more publications, more competition placings, a few small wins.
2006 – A win at Willesden Herald judged by Zadie Smith.
2007 – A Bridport Prize, a Fish Prize, a Daily Telegraph win, some anthology work.
2008 – Words from a Glass Bubble published by Salt Modern Fiction.
2009 – Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story published by Salt.
2010 – Storm Warning published by Salt Modern Fiction. Awarded Arts Council Grant for the Arts.
2011 – The Coward’s Tale published by Bloomsbury in UK. Awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2012.
2012 – The Coward’s Tale published by Bloomsbury in USA. Awarded a Gladstone’s Library Residency. A poem is awarded the 2012 Troubadour International Poetry Prize.
2013 – Second edition of Short Circuit is published by Salt. My debut poetry publication, The Half-life of Fathers. comes out from Pighog Press.
2014 The Half Life of Fathers is chosen among the best poetry pamphlets of that year. ‘by The Times Literary Supplement’
2015 Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures (illustrated flash fictions) is published by Liquorice Fish Books
2016 Memorandum, Poems for the Fallen is published by Cultured Llama Books. The memorial poetry inspires three artists working in painted glass, photography and letter-cutting on Welsh slate, and the resulting exhibition is shown at venues across Sussex between 2016 and 2018, during the Centenary of the Great War.
2017 A Short History of Synchronised Breathing (short fictions) is published by Cultured Llama Books
2018 Nothing to Worry About is published by Flash – the International Short Short Story Press, at Chester University.
2018 Started tutoring for the Arvon Foundation
2019 Started running sold-out residential retreats for older aspiring writers – ‘It’s Never too Late to Write’. Among them, a weekend at the glorious Pentillie Castle, in Cornwall, and a whole week at Anam Cara Writers and Artists Retreat, West Cork, Ireland.
2022 Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures is translated into German, and published in Austria by FloDo Books, Vienna.
2023 – Writer in Residence at Petersfield Museum and the Collections, including the Edward Thomas Study Centre. A four month residency funded by The Arts Council, encompassing a writing element and a teaching element. Forthcoming in 2023, a body of writing from that residency.
2023 – a collection of writing ideas for writers to be published in July by Ad Hoc Books. Fifty One and a Half ideas and games for writers