Why do you write and what do you write are two questions I am often asked by people who find out what I do. My favourite response to the former is to ask a question of my own: why do you think I have a choice in the matter? I think that answer is the closest to the truth, because for me to stop writing would mean, I fear, that I have stopped breathing.
It’s been a compulsion for me since I first read Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. Until that point I loved reading, but afterwards I loved reading and writing. That odd, Lord of the Rings Lite book ripped the lid off my imagination and unleashed something I hadn’t realised was waiting to explode out of me. It is, indeed, a compulsion, but it is also a sheer delight. Yes, it can be a struggle at times, and of course it frustrates me no end when what I have inside my head fails to materialise on the page. But writing has been a part of my life now for more than fifty years. Not quite as long as sport or music have given me enjoyment, but equally as fulfilling. And while my sporting days are long past and I can only involve myself as a spectator, and arthritis in my knuckles makes guitar playing all the more difficult so that listening is fast becoming my only musical refuge, at least for the time being I am able to both read and write. The storyteller in me lives on.
As for what I write, now that is a much more difficult question to wrestle with. Do I write dark, psychological stories of serial killers (Degrees of Darkness)? Do I write action adventure tales of derring-do (Scream Blue Murder and Cold Winter Sun)? Do I write mystery thrillers filled with suspense and intrigue (Fifteen Coffins)? Or do I write character-driven crime thrillers (the DI Bliss series)? I’ve never liked to be pigeon-holed, which is perhaps why I enjoy the challenge of writing different types of book. But I think the simple truth is, I write whatever occurs to me to write at any given time. It’s not great literature, there are no lofty ideals or high concepts. There’s just the desire to tell a tale, a reason unchanged for half a century.
The Autumn Tree is the latest of those tales. I hope you enjoy it.