Have you always written?

I have been writing something or other ever since I became an information scientist and a research officer – but that was a very different sort of writing! It was all research reports and articles for scholarly journals; and – later on – book chapters. I also edited an awful lot of books. If you look at my Goodreads profile . you will see that some have crept in there! But – as my character said at the start of The Dark Trilogy

“Even when writing my dry academic reports and articles the need to use the ‘right’ word for a perfect emphasis or cadence was never far away!”

I enjoyed writing right from the start!

I began writing poems a few years after I lost my wife, in spare moments between work… but I never really took them seriously and never shared them with anyone. When I retired – in late 2016 – something made me look at them again – I revised (or binned) the early poems and I started writing more seriously. A couple of years later I began to write short stories and about a year later I began my first work of fiction – the first volume of the book now entitled The Dark Trilogy.

Do you have a work ethic / work regular hours?

Not really! I do have a small office where I write and I am in there every day that I am at home mostly doing something connected with publishing (like this web site or social media) if I am not writing. Once I begin a project, whether it is a poem, a short story or a longer piece, that is it, I struggle to tear myself away. The story line or theme always sucks me in, excites me, and I write whenever I can. Several hours a day and, if I am really focussing on a story line, I shall be at my desk in the morning, the afternoon and quite possibly in the evening too!

Part of the reason for that devotion to writing has to do with the way I write. Mostly I do not plan out poems or stories – or even longer works. I have an idea and I sit down and see where that idea takes me! I wrote an essay once – which is quoted in the blog – about the process. Also, I work at my computer – I still use a desktop computer with a proper mouse and keyboard – and correct or change the text on the fly – moving a sentence or a line in a poem back in the text or changing a word or an emphasis – before resuming. Obviously, poems usually come slower because the structure and the look on the page is so important, and there will be more revisions.

I am never satisfied and may improve the syntax or the wording in a chapter each time I read it through. The trick is to know when to stop!

Where do your ideas come from?

To be honest, I am not sure! The idea for Trystan – the book that will appear later in 2023 – started off simply as the idea to follow a character, my alter ego Trystan Lewis, through 24 hours of his life. But beyond that and deciding where the story would be set… and some very vague ideas about echoing The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, I was not sure what the story would be! My blog post, What comes next, says more about the parallels between my story and The Romance. I sat down to write and the first chapter arrived on the screen as I typed. There was little thought… I am not sure where even the first sentence came from… but once I had typed it the rest of the plot – for both the chapter and the book was set. Not acknowledged or understood… but I did not do any planning in order to complete the first draft.

Obviously there is then a process of tidying up timelines and improving the readability of the text and, also at this stage (these stages, I should say for it is an iterative process) extra text is added – embellishments or descriptive materials for example. In the case of Trystan, I also decided that the book was a little short and came up with the idea of interlude chapters – taking a character further outside of the main story or furnishing some background to the story – and I think that this has worked quite well.

I was talking to a couple of other writers the other evening and their processes were very different, but we all agreed that a ‘hook’ was needed to begin the process. Something to hang the story or the poem on! In my case it was the idea – which actually came at the beginning of the writing of the first book of The Dark Trilogy – of having a literary alter ego called Trystan Lewis. Even then I had thoughts of links with or echoes of The Romance. I found no way to do it in The Trilogy but it re-surfaced.

I have written more about writing in my blog post, What inspires you to write? they ask.

Is there any connection between The Dark Trilogy and your other fiction?

Sometimes! In The Trilogy – a work that is in part autobiographical – I created a literary alter ego and he comes to life again as one of the two main characters in my forthcoming novel. Some of the minor characters also see their stories extended in a number of the short stories in the collection published in 2023. I rather like the idea of recognising a name and discovering their back story a year or two after you first met them in another book. The long short story at the end of the collection – almost a novella – ‘A Writer’s Life’ also revisits some of the autobiographical story from The Dark Trilogy and creates a further fiction around that!

What do you do when you are not writing?

Despite the idea I may have created that I do nothing but write, I am a keen gardener – my cottage is surrounded by gardens and they are mentioned in one or two of the poems in Mostly Welsh: ‘Cottage Garden’ and ‘In the Veins of the Earth’ for example. I grow a few vegetables and have a fruit cage as well as some apple trees; there is a small lawn, a lot of shrubs and trees, a pond and a greenhouse. And I make my own compost! Then a few years ago I added two hives of bees to my mini orchard so once every week or so I spend time tending them – although not in winter. I am a keen walker and will spend some time in the Lake District each year as well as trekking overseas – Nepal, Uganda for the mountain gorillas, Madagascar, South Africa for safaris, Greece (Mount Olympus), Croatia, and Italy (several times!). Apart from playing badminton one evening a week that is all the exercise I get.

I am also a keen carpenter and have made several pieces of furniture for the cottage. My latest project was more challenging:

So I am kept quite busy in between the writing and publishing!

What do you publish?

You will not find any children’s books, young adult fiction or travel or factual books here! The focus of my publishing is entirely on fiction and poetry. I hope you should find plenty of each to choose from over the years, I would expect in roughly equal proportions.

Are there new publications on the way?

I have amassed some 500 or so poems to date so there is certainly scope – although I would be the first to admit that many of them do not deserve a wider audience! But the answer is certainly “Yes”! I am working on a new collection of more recent, longer poems.

The first new title under the Curated Lines Publishing imprint is a short collection of poems – a chapbook – called Book of the Spirit. This was following in early 2023 by a collection of short stories, When I Am Not Writing Poetry. A collection of just under 40 (of the 500!) poems – Lost Time – was published in April 2023. Next – not sure when – will be my second full-length work of fiction. Or perhaps the poetry collection!

How can I get an idea of what your short stories are about?

Starting on September 5th 2023 I began a series of daily blog entries, each of which introduces one of my 30 short stories published in When I Am Not Writing Poetry. Not only does each entry describe what the story is about, but the first paragraph or the first few sentences of the story are quoted. So you can get an idea of my writing style.

How long does it take for a book to arrive after I order it?

If you order an ebook you should get it nearly instantly but if – like me – you savour the heft and feel of the book in your hand it may take a little longer. Some books ordered from Amazon should arrive quite quickly, but our more recent books use a system called  Print On Demand so a book may take a week to reach you. You will still get the same quality book but time is the slight penalty paid in order to keep prices down.

You can now buy my books directly from this website’s shop. Purchases will be sent immediately on receipt of payment. Some books on the site may be reduced to a sale price from time to time.