Okey dokey. I was born in August 1969 and have a twin brother as well as a younger sister. I grew up in Romford, Essex, did pretty poorly at school and worked in a succession of low paid jobs (road sweeper, gardener, ceiling fitter, record shop assistant) as well as enduring a two year period of unemployment in my early twenties. I eventually got married, qualified as a psychiatric nurse (1997), had three wonderful children, got divorced, got married again (to somebody else) and find myself now living in a wonderfully bizarre village called Tollesbury on the North Essex Coastline.
You've certainly got plenty of life experience to draw on!
When did you first realise you wanted to write and can you tell us about how you got started?
English was about the only lesson that appealed to me at school so I guess I developed an affection for writing way back when I was in my early teens. Around the same time, I discovered Bob Dylan, John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac and realised that reading, listening to great music and writing were about the only things that would help me understand this strange life!
I think they are the biggest things that keep me sane too! I like how you are inspired by music just as much as by books.
What are your biggest inspirations when it comes to writing?
Everything that happens around me. How can you not be inspired by that? I guess living in my own little world for so many years has enabled the wonder I feel for the world outside to endure. It really is very beautiful.
Inspiration is everywhere if you keep your eyes open.
Tell us a bit about your new novel, The Bird That Nobody Sees.
Glad to! It’s written in the third person and has taken me the best part of a year to complete. The central theme concerns the choices we have when we are faced with a situation that is not of our making – it could be our height (the main character reaches dwarf classification by half an inch…), the loss of a wife, the loss of a parent, our childhood – all those things that can influence the way we react to circumstances. It is about the value of friendship, a belief in unconditional positive regard and an acceptance that, although life is hard, we can help each other to get through it. Four of the main characters are based on my best friends and several of the scenes in the novel are based on real events. I guess it is my way of thanking my mates. It’s also, I hope, both enlightening and very funny - just as my mates are!
Sounds excellent. I can't wait to read it!
I'm intrigued by the title. How did that come about?
The title came about when I was reading about the albatross – it is the most amazing bird that does the most amazing things yet how many of us have ever seen it? I then started to think about the feelings, the sensations people have the moment before they experience a vision or a satori. I got to thinking that the two could be linked in terms of their wonder and magnificence. I guess you’ll have to read the novel to really get it but, I must say, I wasn’t really sure myself until I had almost finished writing it. It was almost as if the bird, the vision, crept up on me also. Just as it should!
Sounds like some deep thinking behind the book, very intriguing.
When did you start blogging and what prompted you to do so? What’s the best thing about it for you?
I started my blog last November as a way of documenting my attempts to get Tollesbury Time Forever published. I suppose it was a means of both helping others and getting out my frustrations! Over time I began to review other books and discuss writing in general. The best thing about it? Meeting wonderful people like yourself and feeling a little more connected to the real world – which is always good, but in moderation!
Haha! I totally agree.
What would be your advice to people who are just starting to write or thinking about it?
Absolutely enjoy it! Don’t do it for money! Do it to change people’s lives and have fun along the way. The main thing is that it shouldn’t hurt!
Very sound advice... anyone who goes into this for money is completely barking up the wrong tree!
And just for fun, can you describe yourself as if describing an MC from one of your novels?
Ah he walks into The King’s head in a shambling fashion more befitting a man in manacles than a man in cowboy boots. Neither storm nor rain has he been battered with, yet for all the world you’d think he had been subjected to both during the short walk from his house to the pub. He’s forgotten how to shave and he’ll only look you in the eye if he thinks he’s done you wrong. Yet he’s got a book with him and the chances are he’ll spend the rest of his life sitting at the bar – reading to begin with, then just seeing shapes and patterns and forgetting even where he is. He’ll do it again tomorrow, no doubt. For tomorrow is always a good day. And he'll always say 'good morning' to you whether he knows you or not - because that's how you change the world.
I'd like to meet that man... thanks for being here today, Stu!
If you want to find out more about Stu you can do so over at his blog, Tollesbury Time Forever. I wish him all the best on his continuing journey of publication and discovery!