A Brief Biography of the Author

Childhood of Contrasts
Early years in the Black Country and inner city Birmingham.
Teenage years in a market garden in rural Worcestershire.

21 Years in Full-Time Education
Six years in several primary schools.
Eight years at King Charles I Grammar School, Kidderminster.
Seven years at Exeter University studying French.

Bowled over by Boris
I read Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago in Paris, while doing research in the spring of 1968, and it changed my life. I rejected my academic destiny and followed my instincts, assembling a troupe of actors to perform my verse translation of a French miracle play in the five cathedrals of ancient Mercia. Okay, I had strange instincts …

Creative Drama
One of the cathedrals was Coventry, where Robert Prior-Pitt was Drama Director. Robert and Pauline invited me to live with them so I could work under Robert for a term. It’s the best way to learn. Robert specialised in ‘creative drama’, working up a script with the cast.

Creative Everything!
In Liverpool, I co-founded an arts-crafts cooperative called Open Projects. We made furniture to finance our writing, producing two of my plays in the Anglican Cathedral. A third production was my marriage there to Lynn. We have since produced 4 children and 4 grandchildren. One of the plays, Lost & Found, used the creative drama techniques that I’d learned under Robert. We rewrote the closing scene at the dress rehearsal – and it worked!

All Change Again
After four years in one Alternative Society, Lynn and I were called to another – the Church. We felt called to the priesthood even though we didn’t go to church and weren’t confirmed. Miraculously, only 18 months later, we were both in ordination training at Queen’s College, Birmingham.

Learning to Write …
The art of writing is about what you omit as much as what you include, so weekly sermonising is good practice. In my early years, sermons lasted 25 minutes (I had so much to say and it was all brilliant – oh yeah!). A quarter of a century later, I was saying the same thing, only better, in 10 minutes. Now I write five-minute sermons and worship materials for the international publishers, Redemptorist Publications. My editor is Jane Williams, the Archbishop’s wife.

… for Children …
After taking a two-year course in Writing for Children & Teenagers, it was ironic that my debut published work was for adults: in 1985 the Church Times published my Christmas story, The Bitter Dregs Nativity.

… and for Teenagers and Adults
During my parish ministry, I wrote the book and lyrics for a trilogy of musicals: Rock On Simon Peter, The Damascus Roadshow, and That Saul, Folks! Actually, this has been renamed Saul since the Loony Toons pun isn’t appropriate for what is a musical tragedy – Saul and Jonathan die, after all. These musicals have been performed all over the country in the past quarter of a century.

St Peter’s Church in Harrogate performed Rock On Simon Peter from Tuesday, May 13th to Friday, May 16th 2008. Like sermons, good song lyrics need to be honed.

A Novel – at Last
When I came to write my first novel, The Legend Of Aranrhod, I was embarrassed at first by the acres of blank paper. After a lifetime of cutting sentences and paragraphs to the bone, I had to learn to let my pen relax and go with the flow of the plot and the characters. But I still found myself honing and paring. My editor’s constant cry in the margin was ‘Expand!’

I visited a school in March, and they asked me to tell the children how I wrote my book. I told them that I read my manuscript over many times, asking the question: Is that word necessary? If so, why?

First Prize
On April 30th 2008, The Legend of Aranrhod won a David St John Thomas Award for selling so well.

Julian Barnes
I have always been grateful to Julian Barnes for saying that there’s no such thing as the perfect novel. I am conscious of the shortcomings of my novel, but the main thing is that many people, from 8 to 88, are enjoying The Legend of Aranrhod.

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