Thursday, 22 June 2017

Newton Aycliffe Branch Library

This is an excerpt from a lecture / essay I'm writing...

"Dad was in charge of my Saturdays. First he’d pick me up, in a scene reminiscent of Cold War dramas and the covert handing over of hostages and spies. Then – Newton Aycliffe town library. A tiny building, book-lined and safe, everything smoothed with plastic laminate. Chipboard and one glass wall. Familiar.
But he wouldn’t let me borrow anything from the fiction section.
‘Ah, lad. Story books are just for girls.’ He steered me firmly towards the other side of the Children’s section. And tried to get me reading books about football, war and cars.
I could have wept. I didn’t, though.
I found the bits of non-fiction that I could use. That I could make stories out of. Ancient Egyptians. Prehistoric Monsters. Romans. Vikings. Mysteries of the Unknown. UFOs. Ghosts. The Earth, Stars and Planets. These were the kinds of books I ended up receiving for birthdays and Christmas. Oh, he likes space, he likes nature and history. He likes Evolution and cavemen and dinosaurs.
My guilty secret was that I hardly ever read the text in those books. I pored over illustrations of luminously beautiful planets and graceful flesh-eating monsters at the dawn of time. All the factual matter I didn’t give a stuff about. I pretended to be taking it all in.
Instead I stared at rockets and tyrannosaurs and made up my own tales.
And I longed for fiction."

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Portraits for commission!

I'm now painting portraits! Please email me ( or send me a facebook message if you'd like me to paint a person or an animal you care about! A4 originals cost £50 and A3 £80, plus p&p. All I need are photos to work from. xp

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Martyn Hett and Manchester

Tonight I've been painting Martyn Hett. We keep hearing the name and seeing the face of the bomber and I don't want to. Today Martyn's story has really touched me and I'd rather remember his name and his face. I didn't know him, but he was one of ours.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

'Marked for Life'

Today I'm finishing proof-reading the reprinted edition of my very first novel, 'Marked for Life', from way back in 1995. It's such a strange experience, revisiting that younger self! I first wrote this book about tattooed men, nudist lesbians and stolen children 23 years ago...! This new edition from Steve Berman's brilliant Lethe press has this fab new cover by Matt Bright, two bonus short stories from the same year, and a new intro in which I look back at being in my mid-twenties...