I grew up in a small town north of London. I now live in Denver, CO, and have been residing in the States for about half my life.
Everything from Cowboy Bebop to Cormac McCarthy.
I wrote my first book when I was about twelve years old. It was called Reality Rides and was all about these people who hop between different dimensions. The main character was a fighter pilot who rode a Harley Davidson. I can still see it all in my head! But then I quit writing stories for a while. I wrote songs. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I actually think it was really good practice for writing prose, because in a song you try to make every single word count, and you focus on feeling and sound, as well as rhythm and meaning. I started writing fiction again in 2008, after a life-changing conversation I had with my sister-in-law. Basically, I came up with an idea for a story and I decided I had to write it. Once I started, I couldn't stop. It was like this explosion, a release to no longer be tied to the structure of a song, and I enjoyed heading off into what was, for me, uncharted territory.
They pop into my head, often as a “What If??” sort of idea, and then I keep asking “what if?” as I develop the initial story idea. As quickly as possible I try to get to a character from the story idea (or vice versa) because the people in the story interest me the most, and I like for them to drive the plot, rather than the other way around. I also find that creating limits helps fuel my creativity: the more I confine things (for example: temporally in NIGHT SPEED, or environmentally in ROOTLESS) the more me and my characters have boundaries to push against, things to strive for, changes to be sought… conflict to resolve, basically, both internally and externally. I should also mention I come up with tons and tons of ideas but most of them get thrown away or seem to simmer on a back burner in my brain unless the spark really catches.
I actually didn't initially set out to write a "young adult" book, or an "old adult" book, or anything along those lines. I made the main character of ROOTLESS seventeen, and so it became a story about a young man on a journey into adulthood, a boy who has to learn how to become a man. But aren't we always on that sort of journey? Aren't we always growing and discovering new things? I'm a believer in trying to do something that people will connect to, whether they're seventeen or seventy-two. I think art should transcend any genre or box people try to label it with. Therefore, while I'm incredibly proud to be a part of the Young Adult world, it's really just another label, like science fiction, or fantasy. Labels can be useful for the reader, but when I'm writing it's not really something I think about much.
Those are just labels, and as soon as you define yourself that way, you're totally limited, man!
Ponderosa Pine. At about 2 PM on a summer's day, the sun-baked sap smells like cream soda. They also are beautiful, and fire-dependent, and tend to grow at a pretty perfect elevation, in my opinion.
I grew up in the UK, spent some time Down Under, and I've been in the States ever since. A lot of people think I sound Australian when I talk (though Australians never think that). I love Australia. It's a beautiful place. But my accent has been formed by my many travels. I'm a citizen of the world, I guess.
First of all, I'm flattered that people have asked me this. However, I'm really bad at critiquing other people's work.
I think the best advice for a creative process such as writing is to find the process that works for you... I believe it's different for everyone, and you'll get nowhere trying to follow someone else's set of rules. Of course I have my own process (though it changes) and based on the process that works (sometimes!) for me (and assuming you still want my advice after all these caveats!) I would say...
Write what you love to write about and think about. Write the story that would blow you away and make your heart swell as your brain explodes. Write what's in your heart. Write about what makes you scared, the things you know in your bones, but more importantly the things YOU DON'T KNOW but want to learn about. Have fun with it. Go wild. Do something different. Combine all the crazy things you're passionate about and try to set them on fire with your words. Above all, write the book that no other person on the planet could have written but you.
I'll also tell you that I FOCUS ON STORY (and the characters who drive it!!) first and foremost. The who, the what, the where, the when, and the why! Don't forget the WHY! The actual writing of the story is a separate thing and is also a lot of hard work, so I try to write and revise for story and character BEFORE I get focused on the rhythm and metaphors and voice and all that other fun stuff. You don't have to outline it all ahead of time (at least I don't), but it often seems a good idea to know roughly where you're ultimately heading. Be open for that to change, though!
Lastly, after you've written the story and taken a break from it, go back and edit your work until you can take it no further on your own. Then find people who connect with it, people who might even help you with it. This might take years. Or it might never happen. Don't let the number of people who "like" your work define the level of your success. This will seriously detract from the adventure! But also remember that there are some pretty far-out things that a ton of people connect with. So don't be afraid to be "out there". Bland is boring, I think.
After NIGHT SPEED came out and the ROOTLESS trilogy wrapped, there was some significant movie interest and I went down a rabbit hole, working on screenplays for a few years. In the end, nothing came of them, and they gather digital dust in the cloud and on abandoned hard drives, but I had some fun along the way. I then lost my dad, who passed away in 2019, and I needed to break from writing fiction for my mental health. I started doing other things, got a dog (Chewbecca...see her on the homepage!) and have now almost completed a Master's in Counseling, so I can help people work on their own life and their own stories. It's a nice change of pace from making up people and stories and my well had run dry, I reckon, but I actually started working on something new lately. Right now it's just a few chapters but I'll keep ya posted, as I try to keep on keeping on.