I’m the author of The Ghosts of Alice series and the adventure mystery series The Secret of the Tirthas. I’ve also published two poetry collections, Up in the Air and The Things We Thought Were Beautiful.
I was born in Eastbourne and grew up in Warwickshire. At school I wrote all the time – action stories involving my friends, which got passed around the class. I was sure I was going to be a writer, but somehow it all got lost during my university years in Southampton, where I did an English degree, and Stirling in Scotland, where I did an MSc in Environmental Management.
I began writing poetry in my twenties at the same time as working for environmental organisations in Wales and London. I was spurred on by getting published in magazines including Poetry Ireland and Poetry Scotland, as well as in specialist publications for schools. I did public readings, including two at the famous Troubadour Cafe in Old Brompton Road, where Bob Dylan once performed!
Then a few visits to a secluded garden in Herefordshire gave me the idea for the young adult portal series, The Secret of the Tirthas. I began writing stories again. I loved the idea of a garden of rooms with portals to mysterious places all over the world. The ‘fantasy’ in the stories was created as much by 13-year-old Lizzie Jones finding herself in amazing real-world places she’d never been to as by the supernatural elements. As inspiration I used the places I’d been to in my own travels, including a three-month trip to India and a safari in Africa.
I’ve been a lifelong lover of horror films – particularly the more spooky, psychological kind – and in 2019 I published my first ghost story for adults, The Boy in the Burgundy Hood. It’s the story of Alice Deaton, a young woman with a mysterious connection to the dead. The inspiration for the story came from my wife, who had been for an interview at a medieval country house taken on by a heritage trust. The previous owners still lived in a private wing and caused difficulties for the property manager. I realised it was the perfect idea for a ghost story, with extra added tension! The Boy in the Burgundy Hood went on to become an international bestseller on Amazon. I have subsequently written two more books in the Ghosts of Alice series, The Girl in the Ivory Dress and Alice and the Devil, and a fourth is planned next year.
I now work part-time for a charity in London and write whenever I get the chance. I’m a voracious reader and some of my favourite books include modern ghost stories (Michelle Paver, Stephen King, Susan Hill) and contemporary fantasy, where the supernatural infringes on everyday reality. Much of the best of this is written for younger readers (The Dark is Rising, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials).
I live in the Surrey Hills, a lovely area of rolling tree-clad countryside, with my wife and two sons. I like getting out hiking. When I lived in Scotland I did a lot of hill walking and I’m pleased my sons increasingly like walking too. And I still watch horror movies and go to indie gigs with my old school friends who starred in those first stories.
Want to know more about me and my books? Check out this interview I did with my US author friend Jessica Cantwell.