What was the inspiration for your current book? I live in an area that is not only stunningly beautiful, but is also incredibly rich in history. Within a twenty mile radius of where I live lie five historical battlefields. On many hilltops can be found the ruins of iron age forts that were built before the time of Christ.
Inhabited for thousands of years, many of the glens lie empty now, cleared of people during the evictions of the 19th century. In such places the past really does hang heavy.
I think “The Last Sunset” was my way of repopulating the empty glens; relighting the peat fires in the ruined houses, as it were.
How old were you when you wrote your first piece? I began writing poems and short stories while I was in the army. It was a way of alleviating the boredom, I suppose. Some of my friends would ask me to write poems for them to send to their girlfriends. It didn’t do much for my own love life, unfortunately.
What was it, and in what genre? The first piece of fiction I wrote was a horror story set in a particularly dark and foreboding forest near our camp in Osnabruck, Germany. None of the guys would go anywhere near this forest after dark. The place had such a forbidding atmosphere.
Only a few years ago I discovered that that forest was the site of a horrendous battle between the Roman Legions and local Germanic tribes. The idea that certain places can retain a powerful imprint from former times is something that’s explored in “The Last Sunset”.
What is one book everyone should read? The Last Sunset, obviously. This is a book that no home on this planet should be without.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Would you want to live in the only house on this planet without a copy?
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? A number of very kind reviewers have expressed the hope that a sequel to The Last Sunset is in the offing. That would be my next project.
What inspired you to want to become a writer? That is a good question. I don’t think writing is ever a career path, or a vocation. I think it’s a compulsion. I think perhaps the urge to tell stories dates back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. I can envisage them, sat around a campfire, telling tales about the mammoth that got away.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. There has been a number of nice little ego trips; the BBC doing an article on the book, the local newspaper running a feature. The reactions of my nearest and dearest. Really though, my favourite moment was when the first copy of the book arrived by post. I remember holding it in my hand and thinking; “Yes!”
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? As a young teenager I was bought a book about the stars written by the lovably eccentric astronomer Patrick Moore. I’ve had a passion for astronomy ever since.
What was your favorite children’s book? I remember as a child reading about Davy Crockett and the Alamo. I have no idea who the author was, but the story made a deep impression then; and still does now, if truth be told.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? I think it’s very important to be self-critical. We should always ask ourselves; is what I have written the best it can be?” Keep revising and rewriting until the answer to that question is yes..
What is your favorite Quote? As Robert Burns said:- “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.”
Or, as John Lennon put it:- “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
How did you know you should become an author? I‘ve always enjoyed reading books; especially historical, supernatural and science fiction novels. Ultimately I became an author to write the type of book I would most like to read.
Who are your favorite authors of all time? There have been so many. Robert Louis Stevenson, Steven King, Isaac Asimov. My favourite is probably Ray Bradbury. His ideas are probably a little dated now, but his prose remains unique. He was the most wonderfully expressive writer.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? My characters are either composites of people I have known, or splinters of my own personality. So, yes, I do recognise myself in one or two of my characters; or perhaps more accurately, I recognise the person I would like to be.
How do you react to a bad review? Fortunately most of the reviews I’ve had have been very favourable. One or two have been less so. If the review amounts to constructive criticism, I’ll try to take it on board. If I think it’s unfair I’ll simply disregard it.
If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Everything about that story embodies the spirit of Christmas.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? With a glass of ten year old Hebridean malt that had been put by for a special occasion. Neither the whisky nor the occasion disappointed.
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is…. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. His work retains a power and freshness that is extraordinary for something written in the nineteenth century.