Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a British journalist who has spent 30 years reporting on major events and interviewing front-line UK politicians. I have been running my own journalism and public relations consultancy since 2001, writing about business and economic issues.
Previously I was a PR manager at KPMG, and before that, a British government press officer. I have held a number of senior editorial positions on daily newspapers across the country and my freelance work has appeared in national titles.
Born and raised in Lancashire, I took a BA in history and politics at Queen Mary, University of London, and a master’s in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
I have co-written a non-fiction book about the Battle of the Atlantic, and jointly edited two short story collections. I have a life-long interest in maritime history and has travelled widely in the USA. I live with my family in Greater Manchester, England.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Liberty Bazaar is a historical novel based on real events in Liverpool during the American Civil War.
The story revolves around the conflict between Trinity, an escaped slave girl, and Jubal, a battle-fatigued Confederate general.
After escaping from a South Carolina cotton plantation, Trinity is recruited by wealthy British liberals to support Abraham Lincoln’s Union.
At the same time, Jubal has been relieved of his front-line command after publicly denouncing slavery. To remove him from the controversy, he is sent to Liverpool to promote a Grand Liberty Bazaar in aid of Southern widows and orphans.
Trinity discovers a high-level conspiracy that could win the war for the South, but her attempts to persuade the British authorities to take action lands her in a snake-pit of subterfuge.
Jubal also starts to question who he can trust when he realises he is being manipulated by powerful individuals whose motives threaten to destroy him and his family.
As the stakes get higher, the pair realise they must work together if they are to survive.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m a night owl and usually write after 9pm, often until well past midnight. I aim to set aside three to five nights a week, but some weeks I get little done and others I’m at it every night – and during the day.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Authors I most enjoy and admire are: George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Harris, John le Carre, Mary Stewart, Barbara Vine, James Ellroy, Lee Child, Tom Wolfe, Cormac McCarthy, David Mitchell and William Boyd.
What are you working on now?
A crime thriller set in Nixon-era America. I’m writing in the first person, using a voice that echoes first generation rock and roll culture.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
You need a fully integrated approach, so Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and website, as well as platforms such as this. I attend readings and events whenever possible and ask for media interviews and endorsements.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Never lose faith but always try to hone and develop your craft. Asking for honest, critical feedback is a great way to do this and creative writing workshops are an enormous help. Academic courses usually include critiquing groups, but there are many community-based writing workshop groups in most areas.
You should also try writing short stories. They are much easier to get published and a great way of experimenting with different techniques. Also, short stories give you instant gratification, without having to put in the many months – or even years – of hard work that a novel demands.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
If you can stop writing novels, you probably should.
What are you reading now?
Clandestine by James Ellroy.
What’s next for you as a writer?
It’s always the next novel.
What is your favorite book of all time?
1984 by George Orwell