I started writing almost by accident; whilst visiting the local vet (with Charlie, my Springer Spaniel) I noticed a poster: a publisher was looking for someone to write a book of 'dog-friendly' walks in West Yorkshire. I phoned the contact number and was asked to produce a sample walk and send it to them (I suspected they wanted to know if I could string a sentence together). The publishers were happy with the walk and so 'Yorkshire Dales: A Dog-Walker's guide' was born.
The first edition rapidly sold out and it's now on the 2nd. The book features 20 circular walks liberally scattered over the Yorkshire Dales. Each walk includes detailed directions, a sketch map and also nearby pubs and cafes that accept dogs (so you can both go for refreshments after the walk). The walks are designed to avoid wherever possible awkward styles and include sections where the dog can be safely let of the lead (assuming you know how to control it and bring it back of course).
I have built a website for it too:www.dogfriendlywalks.com
|Of course, this is not the whole story, but it did kick start me off as a writer. Whilst walking the local hills with Charlie I began to notice rock-carvings that seemed to be almost randomly located in this area. I got to thinking about the people who made them and that everyday I was in fact treading in their very footsteps. Luckily Wharfedale is a beautiful area that has not yet been ravaged by industrialisation or swamped by large scale urbanisation. This means there are still a considerable number of earthworks put up thousands of years ago that still sit there for all to see. I've been intrigued by the lives of our ancestors for decades now and read quite widely on the subject. It occurred to me that I might write a fictional story of the people who lived in this valley all those years ago.
Since long before I started writing I have been a very keen gardener. Well, not so much a gardener as a food producer. I love growing my own vegetables, herbs, fruit and nuts. I've even kept chickens and reared them for meat as well as eggs. Sadly the chickens have gone but perhaps one day I might get some more (they were lots of fun). This obsession with food has in fact helped inform my writing. I've even written an article about it here.
A bit of a CV
Going back to the 1980s I went as a mature student to the University of East Anglia to study Computer Science. I graduated from there in 1988 and spent 2 years as a programmer before starting my lecturing career at Huddersfield University.
I then went on to lecture for 3 years at Ngee Anne Polytechnic in Singapore just at the time that the internet was starting to be widely used. If you ever go there you must get out and taste the local food - it's just amazing. Great as the work was, there was a downside to the life there though. It's no place to find an allotment.
I returned to England in 1999 and having lectured for nearly 14 years I finally left Leeds Metropolitan University in 2004 to do my own thing. Since then I have been writing software, building websites and more recently taken up a career as an electrician. By the way, here's my website if you need some electrical work doing www.otleyelectrics.co.uk.