When did you realise you wanted to become an author?
About the age of twelve.
Who are the people that have influenced your work?
D H Lawrence, Daphne du Maurier, Alan Garner, Paul Scott.
What is your process for creating your work?
I don’t have a template, or work things out methodically in advance. I have a general idea of how I want a novel or story to go, but no more. Quite often I have an end in mind, but no idea as to how I will get there. I sit down and pray that something comes. With a little courage, it usually does. Because I have to do other things every day, I try to do at least 500 words a day. If you stick to that, it very quickly mounts up. I edit obsessively, often as I’m writing. But I will always go over what I’ve written; with some passages, many times. I use a thesaurus a lot. The subtleties of language are endless and so important.
What genres/audiences do you create your work for?
I truly have no idea. I write what I think is good and what I consider is truly conceived, felt and executed. I just hope someone likes my work. I’m not being disingenuous. This is really the case. I will say that my work has often an historical dimension, a psychological/supernatural dimension, a dimension of family drama. It is often dramatic, very visual and emotional.
Where do your ideas come from?
Aspects of my own life and past, or of other people – known to me usually, but not always. Sometimes an interesting phrase is enough, either one that has been recounted to me or one that I have overheard. I’m a compulsive and almost unconscious eavesdropper. Things that move me and strike me as important. Place is very important to me – I might say crucial, actually. Then of course there is imagination and invention – never to be underestimated.
What is your favourite work of your own and why?
I have a fondness for ‘The Stone Forest’, particularly the first section of it. This is because I set out to recreate a place which no longer exists and which I never knew. I had only photographs to work with, plus some details from an amateur archivist who once lived in this place as a small child. I think I succeeded – at least, I think it works imaginatively on its own terms.
What has been of greatest interest to you in the past week?
Sadly, the deteriorating state of politics and the world climate, which I think are in fact very much connected. People are afraid because there are seismic changes occurring in the way human beings must live, if we are to survive, and we no longer know what to believe in in order to sustain ourselves.
What do you do when you aren’t creating your work?
Spend time with my cats.
What makes you smile the most?
Eccentricity, difference (as long as it is real and not affected), people with the courage to be themselves. True – but not unkind – wit.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone true to his own creative vision and instinct, offering something different and memorable.
Do you think that literature is important and not just entertainment?
Yes, I do. It has been called the finest flowering of our culture. That is a concept no longer given credence, and we pay the price of such attitudes daily, as we see the most aspirant facets of our culture and society crumble away. There will be little of any real worth left. As D H Lawrence said, the human soul needs actual beauty even more than bread.