The Inspiration to become an author
How it all began.
I was inspired by my English teacher Mr Hinchliffe to enjoy literature and to understand books fully. Even though we were only eight, he introduced the class to The Hobbit and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as class readers, allowing us to respond in pictures, words through creative writing and through comprehension. I began to enjoy English more than history and French which was great fun, responding to a cartoon character. We never learned Hinchy’s first name. After Hinchcliffe we had a brilliant English teacher, Mrs Gregory (again we did not learn her first name), but she taught us grammar and proper sentences and spelling as well as introducing us to Stig of the Dump and a myriad of other characters. Mike Thomas took us on and introduced us to Pygmalion on stage, a gripping play about submariners and he also read us beautiful passages from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, brimming with alliteration and metaphor. He taught us as if we were young adults and were keen to learn. My prep school English teachers were truly inspirational.
At my senior school, The Oratory Michael Hunt actually allowed me to write a book after I took my English exams early, it was thanks to him I was inspired to become an author. The top set for English, which thanks to Gregory, Hinchcliffe and Thomas, I remained in, were allowed to take their ‘O’-Level English Literature and English Language, in the September term. We studied The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene and Henry V by William Shakespeare. After that Michael Hunt read books to us such as Goldfinger by Ian Fleming and other modern writers, which we discussed. I asked what work we would do over the Easter term, he replied glibly that we could write a book if we wanted to, so I did, which he marked and edited and which my sisters typed up and I sent around publishers until the three manuscripts were lost. I still have my first rejection letter from Macmillan, dated 1977.
‘Never give up’ and ‘If you want to do something badly enough’ are words that echoed through my childhood. I put my writing to one side, I kept honing my craft but only whenever I could spare the time. However, running a brewery was seven days a week On Monday to Friday I worked 5 am to 11pm, helping to brew he beer and going see customers right up until closing time. Saturday was 11 to 7pm, and Sunday was just 7pm to 10.30 pm as Sunday lunchtimes. I, of course, avoided the city pubs on Friday lunchtimes, preferring to see them when they had deliveries at 7am, 8 am or 9 am. When I moved to New York, I was able to make more time for writing, but it was not until I went to university that I could devote large swathes of time to my craft. Then, it was a case of writing non-stop and success.