About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Friday, 2 March 2012

A Cleansing of Souls - the story behind it!

I want to use this post to give you some background behind A Cleansing of Souls, the novel I have brought out on Kindle today. In so doing, I will necessarily have to dip into parts of my real life in order to give it some context. Those parts I can remember, anyway!

So, in early 1990, when I was twenty, I moved in with a twenty-five year old girl with whom I worked at Commercial Union Insurance Company. The house was a repossessed house just around the corner from Romford Dog Track and just up the road from The Sun pub. Those two factors alone should have set alarm bells ringing - combined with the fact that my girlfriend was ostensibly, well, mad. But then I was something of a fool at twenty. More or less as soon as we moved into this house, I got it into my head that the band I was playing in would be the making of me - thus I walked into work one day and declared to my manager that I wanted to go down to four days a week. He rather burst my balloon by saying they were considering sacking me due to excessive lunch-time drinking and inappropriate use of humour. So I entered into a three day a week three month probationary period following which I resigned to concentrate on the band stuff (jumped before I was pushed!)

And what of Sparkling Rain, my little band?! Well we had a gig at a place in Collier Row on the first night of the 1990 World Cup. We watched the Argentinians lose 1-0 to Cameroon and all was rosy in my world. Three hours later though, I was in hospital having suffered a serious electric shock at the hands of a dodgy microphone stand. And the song we were playing at the time? Ain't That A Shame by Fats Domino. So two days in hospital and a newly acquired phobia of electricity followed - nice one Fats!

So there I was - unemployed, no band, mad girlfriend and no money. So what was this poor boy to do? Look for a job? Go acoustic? Move back to mum and dad's? Of course not! I did what any Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Kris Kristofferson influenced fool what have done - I started writing a book!

I handwrote the first twenty thousand words in a hardbacked notebook I had 'borrowed' from Commercial Union and then got hold of an electric typewriter. I think it took me about a year to finish what would become the first sixteen chapters. I typed up the whole thing about three times just to get a perfect version (no wordprocessor and computer for me back then!) and then I just left it. A year later, I was working as a roadsweeper in Romford and a year after that I was engaged to someone else (mad as well) and a year after that, married to someone else. It was only when I started my nurse training in 1994 that, given some of the subjects in A Cleansing of Souls, I revisted the book and added the last five chapters.

So then nothing until 2007 when I decided to send it off, rather half-heartedly, it must be said, to various publishers. No joy but then I didn't expect any. Then the most bizarre thing happened. Somebody who worked for a publisher in America read it and loved it and said she would make sure it got published. Being entirely naive, I thought 'brilliant!' Little did I know she was probably madder than most of the women whose lives I've ruined. It was only a year after it was published by iUniverse that I realised she had paid to have it published! iUniverse are a print-on-demand publishers in the states - hence the version that came out in paperback and hardback, although very well received, hadn't been properly edited or tidied up. Oh well, I thought. Not to worry.

When I brought out Tollesbury Time Forever on Kindle, it just made sense that I would do the same with A Cleansing of Souls. Apparently it will take a month or so for the paperback/hardback versions to disappear but I really didn't want to wait for that. So I've deleted about 2,000 words, rewritten some sections, including the final paragraph, and ultimately really like it now. Oh and Rebecca has painted a wonderful cover for it too!

Well I hope all that gives some context to A Cleansing of Souls - just click on the link and you can give it a whirl if you like!

A Cleansing of Souls



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