I first thought of becoming a writer when I was at Cranbrook School in Kent. Hammond Innes, the renowned international thriller writer, came to speak to us. I was hooked! I went on to Durham University and started writing for the University paper. I had been born in Scotland but my parents had settled in Folkestone, Kent. The fields where I played as a child are now the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. At University, I shared digs in a pit-village with a friend who went on to become a judge. On winter evenings we would go to the bump in the road and shovel up coal that had fallen from the giant tipper trucks. With the pits closing, life near Newcastle was a harsh baptism for someone from a genteel seaside town but I really enjoyed the friendly Geordies and obtained valuable insights from living amidst unemployment and hardship.
I then qualified as a solicitor (attorney to my American friends!) and for some sixteen years lived and worked in Dorset and Somerset. I did not start writing for some ten years but one Boxing Day when I was bored with the Christmas TV schedules, I started what became Case for Compensation. By chance I was friendly with a member of the Crime Writers Association who took me to meetings and there I met top-selling writers like PD James, Desmond Bagley and Gavin Lyall. Gavin was good enough to mentor me through this first book. Since then, I have been helped by Martin Edwards, the prolific crime-writer and by Colin Dexter, the creator of Morse – all typical examples of the generosity of spirit among authors.
In 1984 I opened a law-office in London, and for some ten years I juggled writing with running this growing business. However, much as I loved London and international litigation, I loathed admin and bureaucracy and so I retired early to tackle new challenges and have more time to write.
My wife and I then lived in Las Vegas for over six years where I finished three books and became involved with American litigation and the casino industry. Now, we are back in Europe where besides my writing, I do some consultancy work and enjoy sitting from time to time as a Tribunal Chairman. My dozen or so books have reflected my love of travel, political intrigue, my fascination with fraud and white-collar crime, wine, casinos, sport and Formula One racing. Over the years I have visited nearly 60 countries and my novels have usually involved racing from country to country by air, sea or fast car.
My most frequently asked question is whether I prefer writing to the law. My opinion has never wavered. Except for paperwork, whatever I am doing I love 100%. My legal background has prompted storylines and opportunities to encounter human nature at its best and worst. It has taken me to much of the USA, Dubai, Brazil, Chile, Australia, down Devon lanes or into involvement with BBC TV’s That’s Life, Watchdog and other consumer affairs programmes. For a time, I was the legal eagle for a West Country TV programme and a regular on national breakfast TV. Through the law and writing, I have been invited to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – doors opening that I could never imagine while shovelling up coal as a student.
My biggest regret has been lack of time for marketing beyond the author tours, talks to Writers’ Circles or panel discussions. Like most New Year’s Resolutions, mine made several years ago to devote more time to meeting readers has not been honoured as much as I had hoped, though I have met a considerable number of supporters and readers in the UK and USA. As the Class Teacher would say – could do better! One of the great pleasures of being an author is meeting you, the readers. You are the oxygen that we all need and I hope it will not be long before our paths cross.