About Me

I blame Gene Roddenberry. All of this is his fault. Well, him and Isaac Asimov. And Heinlein. There are a lot of people I can blame all of this on, I suppose. I spent rather a lot of my childhood ill, out of school more often than not, but the one constant was always the books. Yes, I was one of those kids who always had his head in a book, no matter what; trips out were a success if I came home with an armful of books, and likely as not I would have read them all over the course of the next couple of days. The constant was science-fiction; fantasy as well to a lesser extent, but I grew up reading Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, or all of those thousands of collections of short stories that came out in the sixties and seventies – and which were available in second-hand stores for 50p at the perfect time to match a ten-year-old's budget.

I'll admit this now; I'm a Star Trek fan. The old James Blish and Alan Dean Foster novelizations were a companion for many years, and I graduated from there to reading an awful lot of the published Trek fiction. Then came BBC2 and its 6pm slot...and I was completely lost. Universes spread out before me, and I think it was around then that I was completely lost. College beckoned, and I got better, but still – most of my lunchtimes were spent looking for more books. Well, that and playing Magic: The Gathering. Or running role-playing campaigns that at that point went nowhere. Happy days.

University; where I managed to do far too poorly at a degree in War Studies, at King's. Today I would do a hell of a lot better, but somehow I'd managed to get the idea that I was going to save the world. I found out quite quickly that they had me outnumbered. Still had a lot of fun, though, ran a reasonably popular D&D fanzine called OD&DITIES which taught me a hell of a lot, notably that I could write very quickly when necessary but that I couldn't do anything other than basic layout worth a damn. Really should have studied harder; but it really did teach me an awful lot, even if most of it didn't sink in for years.

I suppose I could define my twenties as the 'Hair Years'; for I just let it grow. Reaction from school, when my old headmaster preferred crew cuts, I suppose. After an abortive attempt – twice – to set up my own publishing company (where I learned that I could write really quickly, that I still couldn't lay out, and that 2003 was far too early to set up a PDF magazine) I managed to accidentally get a job at a media monitoring company. Yes, accidentally. Clicked the wrong button on the job website. Hell, it worked.

There, of course, chaos followed me. Somewhat to my own surprise, I slowly rose through the ranks until I settled in a lower-middle-lower-management position where I was pretty comfortable, though I had picked a hell of a time to get into news aggregation. Remember that big oil surge of the middle of the last decade? I'd just started running the petrochemicals section. About a week before. Then, hoping for relief, I transferred to the financial section. A week before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Had I moved to government we would all be living in a complete anarchy right now. If you want to blame me, feel free!

Years of that taught me to write really really quickly, how to proofread really really really quickly – because instant perfection was all that would do – and that ultimately working nights for eight years was killing me. Oh, yes, the hours were ten till seven. PM to AM, of course. I swear, some winters I never even saw the sun. I still wanted something different; as my sense of dissatisfaction with my lot grew, I finally decided that I had managed to get stuck in a rut. A comfortable rut, to be fair, but I reached thirty, looked around, and figured that if I didn't do something I would still be there for another thirty years.

You see, at the background, there had always been the writing. I submitted my first short story at around fifteen, I think it was to Interzone, and it was absolutely dreadful. I mean, really really bad. Lost to history, thank goodness. During college I wrote a novel, and it wasn't as bad. Still bad, yes, and I am glad that it is missing, presumed lost. University that ebbed a bit, but with the fanzines and the publishing I was still writing, still working. In the interim between university and work, I ended up writing a couple of books, one of them a comic autobiography of my student political years that I really should use one of these days; I was actually rather proud of it at the time. Work hurt my writing, but I still plodded through. A few more bits and pieces came forth, and vanished into the ether; I was stretching my creative muscles by running a series of RPG campaigns over this period, but ultimately, it wasn't really as satisfying.

Finally, to return to the rut; I decided ultimately that I wanted to be a writer. I'd always known that, really, but I'd had to push it to the back a bit. Looking back, I probably didn't have to – but I'm glad I did, as I'm a much better writer now than I was at 22. Damn well should be, I suppose! Surprising my boss, I sent in my notice, and decided to throw the dice and see if I could make a living at it; I knew that I could only properly concentrate on this if I had that sword at my throat, the need to make it work. I handed in my notice in November; I ended up doing a four-and-a-half-month notice period (the employee handbook was a bit vague on how much I needed to give; I opted to give loads.) As March, 2013 dawned, I was a free man.

Much to my surprise, I must confess, the plan actually seems to have worked! As I write this, at the end of 2015, I'm just about to publish the sixteenth book in the Battlecruiser Alamo series, and will shortly be launching a second military science-fiction series...


  1. Hi Richard! Thanks for linking to my blog! Lovely to meet you!

    1. Thanks! Likewise! I've been meaning to add it to my blog list for ages...

  2. Just curious about what happened to the Spitfire Station series? Google searches bring up nothing about it.

  3. Hello

    I want to tell you that I have read over 28 of your books in just over 31 days. I could not stop read the Alamo series, I would read a book almost every day. Then I start d on the Star cruiser series and read both of those books in one day. I can't wait for you to finish more about f those series, it killing me to wait for them. You are a great writer. I put you in the same category as Louis L'amour, Zane Gray, William W. Johnstone, and a course Gene Rodenberry. Please keep writing more great books.

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