I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Brummie lad, and still support Birmingham City Football Club, but have lived in far too many places around the UK since then. I’m the youngest of five siblings, but only twenty minutes younger than my identical twin brother. And yes, we’ve played twin tricks on our family and friends. I’ve been happily married to Ann for twenty years, and we have two children, Mark (12) and Rachel (9).
You came to writing via a bit of a different route. What gave you the impetus to change careers to become a writer?
Between 1997 and 2012 I was a Vicar in the Church of England, and noticed the absence of young people from most churches. So what were they doing, these older children, teenagers and young adults? They were at school, on social media, watching films and television, and (some of them) reading books. I began to read some of the grim, dark and tragic stories being published in teenage fiction today, and saw the dividing lines from adult fiction being blurred in terms of violence, sex and bad language. I could sit and complain about this, or I could do something about it, by writing more wholesome, uplifting stories of my own. So I began to write.
Is there a particular place, which is important in your book? If so can you tell us something about it?
One key scene takes place in a desert canyon. I wrote it with a particular place in mind: Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona. Since my first visit there in 1985, I’ve been back several times, so it’s a clear and vivid location for me.
Are you able to tell us a bit about your first book without giving too much away?
Destiny’s Rebel is a teenage fantasy adventure set in an imaginary medieval world, with castles and kingdoms, swords and sailing ships.
Kat is ten days away from turning eighteen and becoming Queen. And she’s dreading it. She runs away from her responsibilities, only to get captured. When she discovers a threat to her Kingdom, can she return home in time to save her people? And does she even want to, if it means accepting her destiny?
Where did you get the inspiration for the book?
The first idea came in January 2006, when I woke up one morning having had a vivid dream. I could remember it: the main characters, the situation and the world. I made a few notes, and I’m very glad I did, because it was three years later that I started to write it. The main story has remained the same ever since.
When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?
The advice to novice writers is to start with what you know and love, so it’s no surprise that I love teenage and young adult fantasy. I grew up on Tolkien, so my best ever book would have to be The Lord of the Rings, but I enjoyed also the science fiction of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. I try to read across the wide spectrum of current teen fiction, and I’d say the best of these are Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and John Green’s The Fault in our Stars – both deserved bestsellers.
Who would you say was your favourite character in any book you have read?
If I’m allowed to choose two, Gandalf and Frodo! Gandalf is a wizard of immense wisdom and power, but hides it under a shabby and sometimes playful exterior. Frodo is an ordinary hobbit, thrust into the most extraordinary circumstances and responsibility, and finds within himself the courage and resilience to see his task through. Mind you, I also love those characters with uncertain loyalty, such as Smeagol/Gollum and Severus Snape…
Now we are getting personal. What is your favourite food?
Lemon cheesecake flavoured ice cream.
If you could travel to any three countries in the world where would you go?
America, Australia and Canada.
Why these countries?
They’re all English-speaking! Although I speak French, I’m not confident at it. I also love the wide open spaces. Instead of crowds and cities, I prefer the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, beaches, rainforests, deserts, mountain ranges, lakes, and so on. I love the cultivated greenery of the English countryside, but when I go on holiday I want something different.
If you ever have a day off from writing exciting books what do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time means family. We go to coffee shops for morning coffee and afternoon tea, and mooch around the second-hand bookshops.
I know you are a Christian. What role does faith play in your book?
My novels are not explicitly Christian, but they do have a spiritual worldview. I enjoy placing moral dilemmas before my characters: what to do with our lives, our priorities, the place of duty, loyalty, friendship, selflessness, ambition, service and so on.
My fantasy world doesn’t have dragons, elves or goblins, so it’s a human story, but there are gods. My characters wrestle with issues of faith, guidance, healing, prayer, power, purpose, and so on. I’m intrigued by destiny, fate or the divine will in my stories, and how much we can choose for ourselves about our lives.
Now that we are all excited about your debut novel, when will it be available to buy?
All the final revisions have been done by my publisher, Books to Treasure, and the book is now being printed. Advance Review Copies are going out during August, and it is now available to pre-order. The Book Launch is on Saturday 12th September, with the book on general release from 15th September 2015. Details here.