About my writing
I write prose fiction, both short stories and novels. A preoccupation in my writing is to do with the liminal – with thresholds between past and present, between the immanent world and the transcendent. I am interested in the way the distant past continues to be present to us today, and in the spiritual presence of place. In the lives of my characters, I sometimes focus on dreams, insights and experiences that transcend the apparently mundane rhythms of life.
I grew up in an old house in Northumberland where the bookshelves were still full of Edwardian children’s books – from The Adventures of Robin Hood and Grimms Tales to Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. The love of stories and story-telling I developed then continues to drive my writing.
I have completed a north-east trilogy, published by Sacristy Press of Durham, about the inheritance of St Cuthbert and his Community – see Books for more detail. The time-frame of the trilogy stretches from the early Anglo-Saxon period of the seventh century, through the Viking raids and Danish occupation of the ninth century to the post-Conquest crisis of the eleventh and the harrying of the north. The story of the Community’s survival through times of extreme jeopardy is intensely dramatic and rich in extraordinary characters, but is mainly confined to old manuscripts and little-read academic treatises; I wanted to reimagine these stories for a contemporary audience as part of a shared Northumbrian heritage.
I am now researching events in the life of my family in the eighteenth century, set on the north-east coast. From a near-disastrous involvement in the ’45 Jacobite rebellion, the family fortunes were redeemed by an ambitious shipmaster turned privateer. It is a story of marriages of convenience, ships and sailors, shot through with ghostly echoes of an earlier tragedy at sea.