‘His tales warm the heart when the nights start drawing in.’ – MAIL ON SUNDAY
AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN A NUTSHELL
I come from a family of writers, am a cousin of the poet, John Masefield, and knew him as an old man when I was quite a young one. Although my father and both my brothers made careers in aviation, I always spent as much time as I could outside with animals, or indoors scribbling. As a suburban child who yearned for open country, I decided early that I’d farm and write. Preferably both at once.
In fact, it took me years to get there. After school I travelled abroad, tried acting, stage management and journalism, gave radio talks, wrote two unpublishable books and spent ten years as an adman in a London office, before I could afford to buy my own small dairy farm in Sussex. I was married then with three young children, and for six back-breaking years milked Friesian cows twice a day to pay the bills – only returning to writing when milk became unprofitable. Ideas for my first novel, Chalkhill Blue, were scrawled on the paper towels I used for drying the cows’ udders in the milking parlour; and that book launched my literary career.
Since then I’ve worked for a number of years as a care manager and teacher of children and young adults with special needs, whilst still farming livestock at home. Eventually retiring to cross the border into Kent, I remain devoted to the English countryside, its wildlife and its agriculture, and am keen to help preserve as much of it as possible for future generations.
In the meantime I still write, still work outside, still spend as much time as I can with my Australian wife, Lee, and our big family of children and grandchildren. Still know myself to be the luckiest of men!