I have written two novels with a third one in progress. The three stories have a character in common with my second novel, Little Pieces of Sophie, and can be read in any order. Nothing But Rainforest is about Simon Jones who later becomes the journalist in Little Pieces of Sophie. Eating the Heart of the Dog is about Harry, Jack’s father in Little Pieces of Sophie. Each story addresses a simple question: What made Jack so in love with Sophie; What made Simon so determined to become a journalist; and What made Harry so angry? All three stories are influenced by my passion for social justice and the hope that ordinary people can make a difference.
For more information about my novels, select the links below:
For information on the influences on my stories, select the links below:
- Influences of my father’s stories on Little Pieces of Sophie and Eating the Heart of the Dog
- The influence of my teaching experience in Papua New Guinea on Nothing But Rainforest
My mother and father met each other while working at the Uganda Electricity Board. My mother came from a family of wool mill workers from Leeds, UK. And my father, who was twenty years older than my mother, grew up in the slums of Manchester. I was born in Mengo Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. My sister was also born there. I’m told I was fluent in Swahili.
We moved to England just before I was five. At school I struggled with writing and my teacher frequently rapped my knuckles with a ruler for poor spelling. I failed my eleven-plus exam and went to Millfield Secondary Modern in Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire. After completing my last year at school, at the age of sixteen I began work in the pathology laboratories at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Four years later I decided to go to university and graduated from Manchester University in 1984 with a degree in Bacteriology and Virology. I was the first in my family to go to university.
In 1987, after training as a science teacher, I taught with Voluntary Service Overseas for two years in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. I started writing fiction there. When my contract ended, I emigrated to New Zealand and worked as a science teacher in the Hutt Valley. My first creative writing class was in 1990 with Frances Cherry, a New Zealand novelist.
I went briefly back to the UK in 1994 and was awarded an Arvon grant to attend a residential Creative Writing Course with Anne Enright. In 1996 I gained a MA in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing from Cardiff University. During this time, I completed my first novel, Nothing But Rainforest, which is set in Papua New Guinea. Anne Dewe at Andrew Mann Literary Agency in London represented me, however, despite being close on several occasions, we were unable to find a publisher.
I then returned in 2002 to New Zealand with my wife and two-year-old daughter. Whilst my daughter was growing up, and with the commitment of full-time teaching, I had a long period where I did not write fiction. After being able to work part-time for the University of Otago as a science facilitator to schools, I started my second novel, Little Pieces of Sophie in 2018. The final revision was completed in 2021. During this time, I also completely revised Nothing But Rainforest.
I have begun a third novel, Eating the Heart of the Dog, which is set in East Africa a year after the Second World War.