Born in Darkness
According to my Mum, on the hot summer night I was born, the electricity in the house failed, and all the lights cut out. Which means, of course, that I never saw her face clearly when it loomed in front of mine, and everything else in the world was confused by shadows and flickering candlelight. Does this explain the darker, weirder shades in my fiction? Maybe ... maybe not.
I was born in Sunderland, a city in the north-east of England. I don’t recall too much about my first 8 years of life. One thing I do remember is that our family was always moving, so I had to get used to a new school and friends all the time. Like most kids that age I was shy, and I came to dread that first day in a new class.
My school reports were, to be honest, spectacularly average. According to my teachers I day-dreamed all the time. I didn’t read much, either, and when I did it was comics. One Marvel superhero, the Silver Surfer, zoomed around the universe on a beautiful, sleek, interstellar surf board. He was lonely, aloof, a genius.
I identified with him.
My first real book memory is being given C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew by my English teacher, Mrs Baldwin. I loved that, and all the other Narnia books. In fact, I remember lying in bed in the dark, staring at the ceiling, and wishing with all my heart that I could be C.S.Lewis.
Unlike many other authors, I had no ambition to write. With no better ideas in mind I just drifted along, finished my A-levels and went on to study History at York University. I left after 2 years, bored with the course and unhappy, without my degree and with a need to earn some cash.
My first job involved working in a warehouse. I put things into boxes. Not too difficult, you might think, but my attention strayed often, and I kept dumping things in the wrong boxes or mislabelling them. I was removed from that job – becoming the only person in the company’s history to be demoted for incompetence at packing.
Licking my wounds, I drifted into computing, pursuing a career in it that lasted a full 20 years. Looking back, I never enjoyed it, but I made enough money to get by.
It wasn’t until my daughter Rachel was ten years old that I started to write. She wanted a story about a REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY nasty witch, and what started off as a tiny scrap of an idea got bigger and bigger and BIGGER.
I was lucky with that first series of books about magic and witches. The Doomspell Trilogy was published in 24 languages around the world. After I finished it, I continued my love affair with fantasy by creating The Silver Sequence, which I still think is probably my best and definitely my most original work. Following that, I tried to scare everyone half to death with a couple of ghost novels – Breathe and The Hunting Ground.
In case they weren’t scared enough, I threw in a pure horror novel for good measure. Savannah Grey is about a girl who has something terrifying inside her throat – only to discover that what’s there is much more terrifying than she originally thought.
Between those stories, I sat back and wondered what it might be like to be an angel – ANGEL.
I could tell you more about myself, but the truth is that perhaps the biggest gift we can give anyone is our imagination and everything important I have to offer you about that is in the novels.
Writing is a solitary and rather self-absorbed way to occupy vast tracts of time, but it can be immensely rewarding. I've been typing away for 12 years now, and though some of my novels have been more successful than others I'm still enjoying myself.