I was born in Birmingham, where I lived for the first half of my life. Fortunate enough to attend grammar school, I left with a collection of ‘O’ and ‘A’ level GCEs. From there, I gained entry to what was to become a public corporation, in which I managed to survive for over 30 years. It was a career that allowed me to develop managerial, computer and writing skills, albeit to a mixed reception in the case of the latter!
After taking early retirement at 50, I ran my own company until returning to serious writing, thereby fulfilling a lifelong ambition. I now split my time between Nantwich in Cheshire and living with my partner of several years in the home we built well off the tourist trail in rural Thailand.
Although the environment in which I write when there could hardly be more different from the central England setting of my novels, it nevertheless provides the required stimulus. I have as much time as I want, mostly interrupted only when I choose, which is quite often as I find the distraction of conversation and food and drink preparation creatively useful as well as preventing me from sitting on my bum for too long. From my desk, I take inspiration from the views of open countryside and sustenance from hot cappuccinos, PG Tips and McVities digestives - the only concessions to a predominantly healthy, vegetarian diet.
It was a decade into my career before I found a creative outlet of sorts in producing papers, reports and guidance but it never felt like the ideal avenue for my burgeoning ambition. It has only been more recently that I have had the time to fulfil my desire to write what I want and purely for my enjoyment. That was when I decided to channel my energies into novels, beginning with this series.
Drawing on my own experience, I wanted my story to reveal something of what it was like for a young, gay man in the late sixties and beyond, as attitudes towards homosexuality changed. Against this background, we watch the development of the main character, Robin, his needs and desires and also his confidence in dealing with those around him and the changes occurring in their lives.
I hope I my characters are both believable and interesting as they interact and intertwine. Some are constant, while others enter and leave, but all make an impact on Robin's life, just as he affects their lives, for good or bad. In Robin, I wanted to depict interests and activities that would ground him - make him human and three-dimensional. Hence, I referenced my own partialities, including music and cars and the projects that became such a useful distraction during difficult times - a lifeline almost.
There is, I hope, nothing exotic or pretentious about Robin because he's a just an 'ordinary' guy with tastes that are not particularly unusual but help to make him more accessible as a character. He is not intended to be remote or extraordinary or particularly virtuous; he is flawed, like every human being, and his flaws and foibles complete him as a person. His honesty to himself as well as others is a strength but also a weakness, particularly when a hostage to his own emotions - a recurring theme as Robin’s story
progresses. When he loves something or someone, it is often with an intensity that risks disappointment and heartache... and there's plenty of both.
If nothing else, I should like to think Robin's experiences offer hope and encouragement to anyone struggling with being gay or coming out to family and friends.
Volumes 1 to 4 deal with relatively short spans of years because, for Robin, this was an eventful and influential period, from which he emerged a different person. Whilst subsequent books may cover more acreage in the landscape of his life, they are unlikely to be less dramatic.
If you do decide to take the plunge, I wish you as much enjoyment from reading Robin's story as the pleasure I get from writing about his life. Whatever your views, I very much welcome feedback.
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Photographs, from the top, L-R:
Moseley (formerly Grammar) School, Wake Green Road
New Street Railway Station
BT Tower, Lionel Street - view from Library
Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square
Baskerville House, Centenary Square
Apple shop in New Street
New Street (with anti-intrusion crash barriers)
City Council offices, Victoria Square