Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a British author and journalist who has spent 30 years reporting on major events and interviewing front-line British politicians and business leaders.
I have written a historical fiction novel; co-written a non-fiction book about the Battle of the Atlantic; and jointly edited two short story collections. I live with my family in Greater Manchester, England.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My debut novel is called Liberty Bazaar and was published in 2015 by Aurora Metro Books.
It is a historical novel set in Liverpool during the American Civil War and is based on real events that happened in the city – and could have radically altered the course of the conflict.
The story revolves around the conflict between Trinity, an escaped slave girl, and Jubal, a battle-fatigued Confederate general.
After escaping from a South Carolina cotton plantation, Trinity is recruited by wealthy British liberals to support Abraham Lincoln’s Union.
At the same time, Jubal has been relieved of his front-line command after publicly denouncing slavery. To remove him from the controversy, he is sent to Liverpool to promote a Grand Liberty Bazaar in aid of Southern widows and orphans.
Trinity discovers a high-level conspiracy that could win the war for the South, but her attempts to persuade the British authorities to take action lands her in a snake-pit of subterfuge.
Jubal also starts to question who he can trust when he realises he is being manipulated by powerful individuals whose motives threaten to destroy him and his family.
As the stakes get higher, the pair realise they must work together if they are to survive.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m a night owl and usually write after 9pm, often until well past midnight. I aim to set aside three to five nights a week, but some weeks I get little done and others I’m at it every night – and during the day.
But there’s no right or wrong way of writing a novel – it’s whatever works for you.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Too many to mention, because even people whose work you don’t like has an influence in how NOT to write.
Authors I most enjoy and admire are: George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Harris, Thomas Harris, John le Carre, Mary Stewart, Barbara Vine, James Ellroy, Lee Child, Tom Wolfe, Cormac McCarthy and William Boyd.
What are you working on now?
A crime thriller set in post-Vietnam, Nixon-era America.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
You nee a fully integrated approach, so Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and website, as well as platforms such as this. I attend readings and events whenever possible and ask for media interviews and endorsements.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Never lose faith but always try to hone and develop your craft. Asking for honest, critical feedback is a great way to do this and creative writing workshops are an enormous help. Academic courses usually include critiquing groups, but there are many community-based writing workshop groups in most areas.
You should also try writing short stories. They are much easier to get published and a great way of experimenting with different techniques. Also, short stories give you instant gratification, without having to put in the many months – or even years – of hard work that a novel demands.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
If you CAN stop writing, you probably should.
What are you reading now?
Clandestine by James Ellroy
What’s next for you as a writer?
My next novel
What is your favorite book of all time?
1984 by George Orwell