I have been a writer most of my life. I started very young. When I went to boarding school at the age of 11, I wrote letters to anybody who would write back. At 14 I had a letter published in Football Monthly, at 17 started a pirate school magazine, and around the same time wrote to the Daily Telegraph for advice on how to become a sports journalist. Something they said about having to hang around in pubs put me off: I had been raised to think of alcohol as a satanic brew. It took me some years to realise my mistake.

I went off into the world of work as an avid observer and note-taker. Despite doing reasonably well at school I chose to drop out and do manual jobs for the next 15-20 years. I became adept at finding workplaces where interesting characters were employed.

200 in the next few years and thought I might have found a way into the world of broadcast media. But apart from a spell as a script-writer for Britain’s number 2 soap, Emmerdale, and a single play for Radio 4, it didn’t happen. Over the next two years, apart from a number of private commissions and the usual miscellany of articles, I sold little and ended up working a winter season at York’s sugar-beet factory, then a spell as a betting assistant for the Tote. This may sound desperate, and at times I did wonder where I was heading, but it was a continuing education; I could see that.

From the year 2000 I’d been reading and writing reports on manuscripts for TLC (The Literary Consultancy) specialising in non-fiction. Occasionally writers would ask me for further help. In 2004, when I was living in Florida as Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence, I was approached by Wasim Khan, born in inner city Birmingham to Kashmiri parents and the first British-born Asian to play county cricket. He wanted help with his remarkable life story.

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Brim Full of Passion was Wisden’s Cricket Book of the Year (2006), and disappeared off the shelves like lightning - not because of massive sales, rather because of abysmal marketing by the publishers. We have made less than £500 each out of it. That same year I received a call from my agent asking me whether I was interested in helping a former country copper write his memoirs. Eight years later we have just published the seventh of the Now Then, Lad series withMike Pannett and Hodder UK. While the core of the books comprises his authentic policing stories, I have licence to flesh out the action with sub-plots, minor characters and local colour. All my years of working with ordinary people in a variety of jobs, and of exploring the North Yorkshire countryside, feeds into that work.

While working with Mike, I have continued to write about things that interest me, which include the great outdoors and the American West. For a while I wrote travel pieces for American Cowboy magazine.

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