Of all the other jobs I fancied as a child (lawyer and professional snooker player amongst them), the one that was most prevelant and strongly felt was Writer. Not only did I love writing, I also liked the idea of doing a job that meant I didn’t need to leave the house. (I know – naive child-like thinking, but it made sense to me at the time!)
I wrote avidly, in many different forms – stageplays, radio scripts, essays, screenplays, stories… My first ‘novels’ came about when I was about ten years old. They were stories about ‘The Porterstreet Gang’ – three best friends who had adventures and solved crimes – all very Famous Five. Hugely embarrassing to read now, but I’m glad I’ve kept them all these years. It was the very start of my future career. I typed them up on my mother’s typewriter and even designed covers for them. Was I a trailblazer for self-publishing? You decide!…
In my early teens I won a competition, run by the local newspaper, with a piece describing my experiences of appearing in the kid’s drama series Byker Grove. (Yes, I was in it back in the day. I knew Ant & Dec when they were just PJ & Duncan!)
Although I continued to write constantly, I also found I had a talent for acting and I joined the youth theatre of the Royalty Theatre, my local amateur dramatics club in Sunderland. My first ever role was as Fleance – Banquo’s son – in Macbeth. Many more roles soon followed, in plays such as The Miracle Worker, Private Lives, and the lead in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. I was encouraged to apply for drama school, which I did, and won a place at Redroofs Theatre and Film School in 1995. After several years doing thoroughly unsatisfying jobs such as IT tech support, computer games retailer, and civil servant (from which I was sacked for writing a jokey ‘training manual’ which slagged off the management and which, unfortunately, fell into the hands of the management), I was making the move ‘down south’ to embark upon my creative career.
Although my focus for many years after that was on earning a living as an actor (you can see a full CV of my work here), I always continued to write. My output including stageplays and musicals which I produced in various theatres around the country, as well as theatre reviews, more novels, and film scripts. (Somewhere on YouTube there’s an affectionate spoof we made of CSI:Miami, set in London.)
By 2006 I had somewhat fallen out of love with acting, and so took a job running the production office of Kinetic Theatre Company, a brilliant Theatre in Education company based in South London. Five years after that, I realised I’d very much fallen out of love with London too, and so moved back to my native North-East. I continued to act for various companies here, as well as setting up my own production company, Cranked Anvil, which has mounted many productions including the award-winning I Left My Heart In Roker Park.
However, writing has once again become my primary focus. Most recently I wrote and performed in Wise Men Say, a play about Sunderland AFC. I also adapted Catherine Cookson’s The Cinder Path for the stage, authorised by the Cookson Estate, which received it’s world premiere at The Customs House theatre in 2015.
Meanwhile, there are plenty more projects to work on, stories to create, articles to submit. They all come to life in my office – the converted loft space of our home. Sitting at my cheap flatpack desk (I keep promising myself a better one), surrounded by books, files, wall planners, white board, tons of stationery and a pile of my Writing Magazines, I make sure I get down at least some words every day. I try to keep office hours as best I can, although when deadlines loom or production week is upon us I can easily work into the small hours of the morning without realising how much time has gone by.