When I started working on this about me section, I found it all quite boring; a bit too formal. I’ve done the whole third person thing before, too, which I’m not convinced by. So, I instead decided to sit down for an informal imaginary interview with myself. We shared the same cup of tea.
Here is the transcript of that improbable meeting:
When did you first start writing?
For as long as I can remember, going right back, I have always doodled and dreamed up ideas for stories – I have sketchpads, notebooks and file boxes full of them – but it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I started to think about writing seriously. So, I quit my job, moved away to a quiet area of the Kent coast, and explored whether I had what I takes to be a writer. A year later I returned with a novel – a story of just under a quarter of a million words. It seemed that filling a blank page had come pretty easily. And I have loved doing it ever since.
A report card from my schooldays once read as something like, “Phillip would achieve much better grades if he just answered the questions, rather than try to make a story out of everything.” I know that I shouldn’t really be proud of that – and my grades reflected as much – but I kind of am.
What is your favourite book?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I have never read anything that included so many traits of the human condition, the conflicts that we inflict upon ourselves and others. Love, deceit, jealousy, intrigue, manipulation, idolisation, infatuation, and, of course, revenge: it has it all, and so much more than that. It’s a brilliant book.
My most recent favourite novel is Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew. It tells the story of a Jewish child who is attempting to escape the oppression of the Nazis, helped by a mysterious golem made from clay, brought to life. On every single page it is insanely beautiful; a totally original take on the battle of good versus evil.
How would you describe your writing style?
Like the variety of books that I read, my writing tends to traverse genres, from story to story. But whatever I am writing, the choice of words is always of primary importance – years of scribbling poems and verse encouraged a love for beautifully crafted prose. The styles of Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy and Willy Vlautin inspire me, the sparse beauty in the simplicity of their words, but I would never try to imitate them. It would be futile to try, so I write in whatever way that I feel fits the story.
Humour is always important. At moments of great drama, we all surely love that killer one-liner to momentarily break the tension. When I first started writing, it’s a technique that I remembered Shakespeare using; that always stuck with me from when I was studying. I often encourage the authors that I work with to do the same, too, if it suits their characters.
Ultimately, my aim is always to inspire, and also to entertain my readers. Contrary to my general tone, I am actually capable of creating quite sensitive tales.
Why do you proclaim yourself to be a “part-time idiot”, then?
Even though I do not really enjoy being the centre of attention, I do have this inherent inclination to try and amuse people. Sometimes that means making an idiot out of myself, so I throw myself onto the pyre. But not all of the time. Only part-time.
Is that also why you chose to use those particular pictures at the top of the page?
Very much so. I deliberately picked the very worst ones I could find – quite successfully, too, I’d say; it transpired to be quite an easy task. For the record, I am only drunk in one of them.
Where can we read your work?
On this website I have a page of short stories, which are all available to read for free. You will find tales of love and of prejudice, uncover declarations of devotion, and disclose suspicions of deception. With characters to inspire or despise, others to fear, and some to secretly root for – including at least one who is quite mad – you might even reveal some hidden fantasies.
I have also written three novels, one of which, The Reputation of Booya Carthy, is currently available. (To learn more about it – or if you would like to buy a copy – you can find it here.) The next novel to be released, of which more will be revealed soon, is scheduled to be published later in 2021. It is about a man called John Slade and his battle with addiction, laziness and his ex-wife. Please keep an eye on the website for updates. Or you can even subscribe, and I’ll let you know directly.
Other than writing – and sometimes being an idiot – what else do you enjoy doing?
Spending as much time as possible outside is important for me – for all of us. Hiking, bike rides, exploring new places, gardening. These things all inspire my writing, too; it’s my thinking time. I am also trying to expand my knowledge of things in nature, but I’m pretty forgetful / easily distracted, so there’s always lots to learn. It’s mostly the simple things that inspire my passion.
Motivated by my amazing creative friends – there are few things as inspiring as creative friends – I’ve also recently started doodling, being a bit arty again, so I’m trying to make more time for those things. If you’re a potential new creative friend, please come and inspire – and probably distract – me. I am a reluctant user of social media, but I am on some of them.
By this point our cup of tea was finished, so we abruptly ended the interview. If you were curious, though, this picture shows what an imaginary interview looks like.
Would you like to get in touch?
These are the various different ways that you can contact me: