The sky was gold streaks and white streaks, an expensive look, stormy. Diagonals ruled. Under the streaks came blue woodland in bar shapes, sliced up by firebreaks. Somewhere there my brother Ray lived."

As Rivers Flow

Assumin'," she adds between kisses, "you will be lookin' your best as we get outta here. I don't want us goin' someplace and you arrivin' like a flower."

Call It Tender

Father said he would put his kettle on. Shuffling to the kitchen he picked up the phone. Put it down. Came back and sat down; wondered why no water boiled."

As Rivers Flow

Miss Heidi said I could write in my diary Miss Heidi introduced me to sex, there was a broom cupboard on the third floor and we were to go there straight away and we did."

The Most Serene Republic

Your time roaming is over, no more wild praries, no lullaby in the bushes not far from Kenwood, no viola in the corner."

even the butterfly must endure the storm


How did you get into writing?

Tracing backwards to my teens, I was always very interested in reading fiction. I didn't feel I could possibly write anything coherent myself until I was thirty or so. In my mid thirties I took almost two years off work to read more and start writing. After writing for about two years a story was taken by The Fiction Magazine, an excellent place to be published at that time. The Fiction Magazine took two further stories and other magazines also became interested.

What's the worst advice you can give a young author?

A difficult question, partly since people only want to give good advice, not bad. One bad piece of advice might be: be cautious. Another might be: try and write what you think the market wants. If you follow the first bad piece of advice you will probably never write anything worthwhile. If you follow the second you won't easily find what is interesting in writing fiction yourself.

How was the experience of writing Call It Tender?

I didn't write Call It Tender. I wrote stories over a period of years and when I found a book publisher we agreed on the contents of the book. Call It Tender is effectively the product of five years of writing, on and off, of stories which were either published elsewhere first or would have eventually found a magazine publisher. How was the experience of the writing involved? Long and gruelling with occasional joys.

Who are your greatest influences?

It's hard to cite anything or anyone that directly influences what I write. As I said, taking risks is important - pushing the idea of your story to its limits, and any writer who clearly takes risks and whom I enjoy reading will have been an indirect influence. Julio Cortázar is certainly one such writer. Steinbeck is an ideal as far as clarity in writing is concerned. Carson McCullers is splendid because she doesn't write to any obvious scheme. I could name a hundred such influences, not all writers by any means; they would include artists, musicians and film makers.