I was born in West Yorkshire, England, a few miles from the village of Haworth, where my heroines, the Brontë sisters, lived and wrote. I left school at 18 with no idea what I wanted to do, and spent a year working on a range of odd jobs – selling office equipment, builders’ labourer, ice cream man.
At this time I also spent some time working in a school, and this drew me into teaching. I trained at Culham College (now defunct) and followed this with a year at Goldsmiths, where I met my future wife, Sally.
My teaching career began at Forest Gate High School in West Ham, where I taught English and History and ran the school library. I followed this with a spell as Head of English at a school in rural Hampshire before moving to a large comprehensive on the edge of Portsmouth, where I was Director of Resources.
All this was busy and exciting, but I was beginning to regret not having gone to university. By now we had two young children, so it was a big decision so apply to Cambridge (Fitzwilliam) to read English. I spent the next three years as an undergraduate, while the family lived on Sally’s earnings as a teacher and my part-time work. Oh, and I had a small grant too. Those were the days!
On leaving Cambridge we moved to Leicestershire, where I was Director of Studies in a community college, with responsibility for the 6th Form. Following this I joined the Northamptonshire Inspection and Advisory Service (NIAS). After a couple of years as an OFSTED Registered Inspector, I was having serious doubts about the direction education was taking, and I left NIAS.
I spent a couple of years working freelance before Sally and I started a business publishing resources for early years teachers. The company grew, and in 2007 won the Education Publisher of the Year award from the Independent Publishers’ Group. The following year the business was bought by Bloomsbury plc. With the proceeds we bought a converted barn and farmhouse with its own land high on the pennines, only a stone’s throw from where I was brought up.
I’d dabbled in fiction for years but never managed to find the time and space to work seriously on anything. This move at last gave me the opportunity. I drafted three novels. They were OK, but no more, and are tucked away in my files, from where they may some day be resurrected. My first published work was Paradise Girl, which is set on the edge of the Yorkshire moors and was inspired by our home. This was published by Matador, but for the follow-up, Aftershocks, I set up my own imprint – Opitus Books – to handle the production and publication. The aim is for Opitus to take on the work of other writers, as opportunity arises.
After a short break to do other things (including relocating to Sheffield) I’m is now working on my third novel, The God Jar, a tale of magic and intrigue which straddles 16th century Europe and 20th century England. I’m also planning a further book in the Paradise Girl series.