I work every day as a Podiatrist, looking at people’s feet. Not very glamorous, I know, but there is always more to people than what there first appears. I also get an awful lot of enjoyment from writing, but it wasn’t always like that….
I’ve always been a stubborn person, which my wife will happily agree with, so when I was about 14 years old and my English teacher said that I could never compose complete sentences I made a point of proving him wrong. I remember sitting in my bedroom writing the greatest piece of descriptive work I possibly could about a tree. The Thesaurus had never been used so much! But the important thing was that I went back over the 500 word piece of writing and edited it several times joining the short sentences together to improve it.
So you could say that my writing started at that point, purely out of stubbornness. But I also learnt that my writing couldn’t keep up with the speed of my brain. If I wrote everything I thought of it was vital to go back and edit to improve the structure and flow of my work.
The next piece I wrote at school was a fantasy story that ended up being a lot longer than was required. After I had handed it in (together with an artistically drawn front cover. I think it was called The Citadel) the aforementioned English teacher stopped me in the corridor as I was going for my lunch break and asked if I had really written ‘The Citadel.’ He then gave me the highest mark possible for it and from then on we seemed to have a reasonable appreciation of each other.
So here’s to you Jed for making me want to prove you wrong!
It was quite a while after when I went back to fantasy novels. I gained an honours degree in Podiatry and followed the sensible career path, wrote a couple of medical books, but let’s be honest, they are pretty boring. For my own pleasure I had continued to write many different things including an Agatha Christie style whodunit, as well as a rather depressing story about a guy with cancer which was supposed to be a love story, but many of them still sit unfinished in a folder. One of the reasons I think I got bored with them was because they were restricting in many ways for me as the writer.
Things changed for me one morning in the bathroom when me and son, James, came up with the idea for The Moon Stealers. I find that writing a book for young people provides me with a lot more freedom for ideas and possibilities than an adult one. They are much more likely to accept things that an adult’s methodical and scientific brain would be closed to. With children there is no ‘that’s not possible,’ or ‘he wouldn’t do that,’ or ‘because of the erratic nature of ion’s it would not be physically possible for teleportation to occur when it rains.’ In short, to a child anything is possible. And, as a writer, that’s exciting. It’s like taking a child to a toy shop and saying: ‘play with whatever you want, however you want…. Oh yes, you can take it all home with you too if you want.’
Writing is inspiring. Children are refreshing. Freedom to write what you want is liberating. Sentences are sometimes short. Fiction is more interesting that feet.