Tell me about your writing, is this your first book?
Yes, this is my first novel. I’ve been dabbling in creative writing now for about two years. I took a short fiction writing course with Anjali Joseph at UEA a while back, which really opened up a can of worms with regards to finding stories in everything around us. The final project for that course is actually the prologue of Mostyn.
Prior to that I worked as a technical writer for a UN agency in Geneva. I was mostly writing executive summaries on health reports that would end up at national health ministries worldwide, so I had UN lawyers tearing into my writing for years. After four years of that I had learned to write quite succinctly!
What made you write about your experiences as a young person growing up and living in Pembrokeshire?
I think by living away from Pembrokeshire and going home only a handful of times per year I could really see a noticeable decline in the general community spirit of Pembrokeshire life over the past twenty years. Of course this is not endemic to Pembs, it’s happened all over the countrysides of the western world. I think my generation were probably just at the very tail end of the rural community golden era, which is when the story is set. This was also a very colourful time economically, politically and socially with all sorts of events, movements and disasters going on: Thatcherism and neo-liberal economics, the start of the EU, rave culture, BSE, mass decline of church-goers. All national issues, but all felt out west in rural Pembrokeshire.
What’s also interesting about this time is that the early-mid 90s were the final years before mobile phones took hold and changed the way we interact. This was the last time period in which people truly engaged with each other and were actually reliant on one another.
So in consideration of all this I thought I’d have a go at writing a story that addressed these issues.
Tell me about your first rave?
We used to go up to Swansea to a fantastic club called Martha’s in the very early 1990s. I remember after one night we joined a convoy in Pont Abraham services, very exciting, and snaked our way to a rave in some out-of-town building somewhere not too far away, maybe Ammanford. The atmosphere in those early days was epic. It was all new and everyone was so happy!
What do you want people to take from your book?
I just hope people enjoy it. If it reminds or informs readers of the benefits, virtues, fun and satisfaction of living in a close-knit community of often disparate characters, it would be a great.
And the next book or two, what’s the story there?
I’m almost half way through my second novel – The Sheriff of Geneva. It’s about a young Englishman called Peter Grout, born into a sheltered life of privilege in Geneva but ultimately ill-equipped for the realities of life. He gets tangled up with Mr Bonjour – an international Swiss man of mystery and Ernesto and Eugenio Gomez – psychopathic Colombian guerrilla twins, over a cache of stolen Venezuelan gold bullion. It probably falls into crime fiction, but hopefully satirises the world of international organisations and ex-pat life, just a little bit.
Following that I hope to write a second novel based in Pembrokeshire, this time focusing on the maritime culture and a catastrophic maritime event that took place not so long ago.