My biography as written by me.
Photo by Bob Cronk
I started out as an office boy at The Evening Chronicle in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and somehow conned my way onto the reporting staff. Impatient to get on with life I moved to London in 1966 because if you were young then it was the centre of the universe. I worked for The Marylebone Mercury and interviewed Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones so it was worth the move.
I then worked for a TV magazine called The Viewer, which was published by the great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, which struck me as a trifle ironic. From there I went to The Evening Standard picture desk where, the day before leaving, I filled the first edition of the paper with pictures of monkeys. I'm told it became something of a collector's item. I then fled to Canada where I worked for a chain of big city newspapers, mostly covering stories about race riots and anti-Vietnam War riots in the U.S.
For the next 10 years or so I bounced between the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and Australia, always writing, sometimes for newspapers but increasingly for magazines. During these years I replaced Bob Geldof at The Georgia Straight in Vancouver and, in Australia, wrote very authoritative medical articles for women's magazines. I also was a founder writer of Australian Geographic, which I am very proud of because when I was there I wrote some of the finest articles in the history of the Earth.
Around this time I made myself write a book because I'd sworn I would have a book written by the time I was 40. I came up with 'The Libyan Contract' a 'get Gadaffi' book 25 years before Gaddafi was got. But not in the way I got him, which was much more exciting. This got me published in Australia, the U.S., the U.K. and a bunch of other places and gave me the impression that writing books was a pushover. I did three sequels, The Beirut Contract, The Traitor's Contract and The Britannia Contract, which all did quite well. But, like the comic who wants to play Hamlet, I wanted to write something more satisfying. I started a new series about a Mumbai Police Detective by the name of George Sansi who features in Season Of The Monsoon, The Ganja Coast and The Burning Ghats. Season Of The Monsoon did spectacularly well – rave reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post – all of that. So, I moved to the USA to build on my success only to have one of my publishers go bankrupt owing me a boatload of money and another one dump me because I wasn't making them enough money. So much for success.
Burned by the book business I took time to start a small weekly newspaper in York, Maine, where I lived. To my surprise I had the time of my life. I sold the paper in 2006 because I felt ready to return to authorship and wrote the book I'd always wanted to write – The Leek Club. The tag line says it all; sex, violence, betrayal and leeks. It took me four years but it was worth it and I am immensely proud of it even though it is largely incomprehensible to anybody who doesn't know what a Geordie is. I then wrote a fun book about a witch detective in Salem, Massachusetts called The Witch's Code because I wanted to make some money. I enjoyed it so much I will probably turn it into a series. I am currently finishing up the second in a trio of novellas I call The Splatter Trilogy about a hit man who goes on the run. Again to make money. I am almost ashamed to say how much fun it is but it does bring out the inner psychopath and that's probably better than actually killing people. I expect to have the trilogy up by early summer.
I have several other books I want to get to and the top contender is a black comedy about smalltown American politics based on the years I ran the newspaper. The backstabbing and bastardry I witnessed in that town were quite astonishing and I already have a working title: The House Of False Affections. It was the name of a Chinese whorehouse in Silverton, Colorado in the 1880's and I thought it particularly apt for the local Town Hall where everybody was nice to your face and couldn't wait to screw you. I suspect it's much the same all over America.
And that's my story so far. A week from writing this I turn 66 and I only hope my energy is equal to all the books I still have in me. So, to be continued…