I was sitting down discussing with my granddaughter how we were going to approach what will become an author interview.

We were talking about how old I was, when it was I first wrote a story, and what was that story about.

OK, that sent me back a long way into the distant past.

There was also a trick question; “What was the first story you read that put you on the path to wanting to become a writer”.

That was easy, Alistair Maclean’s HMS Ulysses.  I showed her a copy of the book.

But, back to the main question.

Grandparents are old, I said, older than your parents, so that should give you some idea.

When did I start writing, that required a little thought, and there were several triggers that gave me a date, where we lived at the time, the fact I used my mother’s old portable typewriter, and the fact I had not been long out of school.  I was, in fact, about 17.  It was 45 years ago; I’ll let you do the math!

What was it about; that I couldn’t tell her, but I said I had rescued a lot of old scribbling of mine and put them in a box to look at later when I had the time.

I guess that time had arrived.

And, yes, there was the book, the individually typed pages, some with corrections, unfinished.

The pages were brown with age.

The story, well, I read the first few pages, and it seems I’d started down the thriller path then, the story so far, an agent comes ashore from a trawler to a bleak and isolated village, perhaps on the Scottish coast,

The next question, understandably; “What was the first book you ever finished?”  That was The Starburst Conspiracy, soon to be published on Amazon.

It also led to a few more discoveries, including a book I had forgotten I’d written. And all of the short stories I’d written when at University.

The interview is proceeding.

The memories it is bringing about my earliest forays into the world of writing are priceless.

The Serial Continues

And had moved to a new site where the current episode will be displayed rather than the old page where you had to scroll down to see the latest episode

So, Episode 6 is now available

To read it :

My Website (also new) :

My blog :


PS Don’t forget to comment if you wish, make a suggestion, join in the conversation

Inspiration … or … experience

We as writers are inspired by many different means.  Even when we are not looking for it, there it is.

Watching television, reading an obscure paragraph or two on page 21 of the newspaper,  something we see in a shop, or a street, in a building, railway station, bus stop, or airport.

We can be inspired by people.  They can fuel the traits of our characters, can become part of a character, with admirable qualities and respect.

But …

We do not know them.  We do not have any real idea who they might be, and even though we can close, and think over the years we do, sometimes nothing can be further than the truth.

I give you a case in point.

Many years ago I had a friend, we shall call her Anne.  I had known her for a number of years and she was kind, bright, always happy and got along with everyone.

Then she contracted cancer.

She remained that bright happy person, and I  believe, as everyone did, that she was the bravest, most amazing person, who’d come to terms with her condition, and had made her peace.

I was so moved, I wrote a story that had a central character who had contracted cancer and was all but parallel the life of Anne.

I gave it to her to read just before she died.  What she said shocked me.

Her life was anything but that which I had seen, and with one sentence made me realize that as a writer, unless I had experienced what she was living through, I really had no idea what it was like.

It was, she said, a great story, but that was all it was.  I did not know the pain, the medication, the sacrifices, and the fears she had managed to hide from everyone including those closest to her..

It was happening to her, so how could I, or anyone else, know what it was like.

It was to me a matter of experience.

Although a writer does not necessarily need to have experience in any particular subject, having experience goes a long way towards making a story or a character more believable.

As fate would have it, I have a health issue, it’s not cancer, but it uses the same medication as cancer patients.

Whilst I know my condition does not give me a finite time to live, I realize now what she meant.

I have the same fears, suffering the after effects of the medicine, what it will be like as it progresses, how you appear in the eyes of others, and I know I feel only a small part of how it was for her.

That story is now being changed.

She had inspired me to write that story; I have now the experience to make it the story it should have been.

It’s all about the Cover

And, of course, the description.

Probably one of the hardest things for a first time author is not so much the writing but what is needed after the book is written.

You need a good description.  Short, sharp, incisive!

There’s a ream of advice out there, and I have read it all.

And, still I got it wrong.

Then there is the cover.

I wanted simplistic, a short description to give the reader a taste of what’s in store, and let the story speak for itself.


Apparently a good c over will attract the reader to the book.

When I tendered my books on various sites to advertise them, sites such as Goodreads, and ThirdScribe, all was well with what I had done.

Then I submitted my books to a third site and they rejected the covers as too simplistic and the descriptions mundane, and wouldn’t post them.


There’s a huge blow to the ego.  And just the sort of advice that would make a writer think twice about even bothering to contiue.


Perhaps the person who wrote that critique was being cruel to be kind.

At any rate, I am changing the covers, and rewording the descriptions.

Will it be a case of ‘what a difference a cover makes’?

Schedule, what schedule?

There are good days and there are bad days

Today is a bad day.

You know how it works, the night before you set out everything you’re going to do.

What could go wrong?

All those irritating little things have been taken care of, especially so you could spend this one day so you can ‘stick to the schedule’.

Those re-writes you were working on last night are just not coming together.

The three phone calls, the urgent request for a small job, the family member with a crisis (and how often is that crisis a storm in a teacup) and to top it off, the cat got shut out is now howling at the back door.

Concentration?  Gone!

Picture next morning.

No distractions.

Computer on, pages sitting in front of you, phone off the hook, no annoying calls, ideas are flowing.

You start…

The monitor dies.

Maybe tomorrow…


I am my own worst enemy!

I think most authors are.

Just when you think that the story is done, and you’re on the third re-read, just to make sure…


I don’t like the way that scene reads.

It doesn’t matter the last three times you read it, it was just fine, or, the editor has read it and the scene passed without comment.

What is the matter with me?

I find sometimes after leaving a finished story for a month before the next reading, the whole picture must formulate itself in my head, so when I re-read, there was always a problem, one I didn’t want to think about until the re-read.

Even then it might survive a second pass.

I know the scene is in trouble when I get to it and alarm bells are going off.  I find anything else to do but look at it.

So, here I am, third re-read, making major changes.

At least now I am satisfied with it.

Only 325 pages to go!