On the writing front, I’m currently in the middle of a practice-led PhD, which in my case means creating a young adult novel and a thesis. It has been something of a challenge to think of the novel as a vehicle for research but it’s certainly an enriching journey. The basic thrust of my PhD is to investigate the portrayal of nurturing paternal characters in children’s and young adult fiction. However, it never feels that simple. Relatively little attention has been paid to fathers in fiction for the young and I have often ended up having to grasp several related areas of knowledge, such as how we portray mothers, in order to scrape together a foundation for my work. Deciding which theoretical perspectives may be of use to my investigation has also been more time consuming than I imagined; and thus far I have had to read a considerable amount of academic material in order to gain an understanding of aetonormativity, posthumanism, ecocriticism and various psychoanalytical perspectives on children’s literature. It has to be said that although I’m enjoying my PhD immensely, I sometimes feel lucky to even get to the novel itself!
Beyond the PhD divide my writing time between screenwriting and other types of children’s fiction. I have an MA in screenwriting, a PGCE in English and over ten years experience of helping other writers develop their stories. In 2014, I was longlisted for the Manchester Writing for Children Prize but I’m best known for my Father Christmas letters, particularly online. When it comes to style and genre, I’m pretty wide-ranging, I’ve written for children in prose and humorous verse as well as a more literary poetic form. You can read some of my children’s poems here. In regard to screenwriting, I have a particular interest in supernatural horror, science fiction and historical drama, although when reading the latter I do find it refreshing if it isn’t a setting I’ve seen a million times before.
In addition to writing alone, I work with a co-writer, Keith Dando. Co-writing has been a steep learning experience for me but I have enjoyed every moment. It particularly lends itself to screenwriting and simple children’s stories. I suspect it would rather less successful as a way of creating literary work. Indeed, in order to fully reap the benefits of co-writing, you need to be aware of its limitations. That said, good co-writers can inspire each other to make best use of strengths, regulate each other’s weaknesses and create clarity at the speed of light. To date, Keith and I have co-created screenplays and short, humorous children’s books. Possibly the most popular of our co-creations is the children’s story, Santa’s Cat.
As may be obvious from other parts of this website, I also have a profound interest in teaching creative writing. Other writers and their working experiences are as important and engaging to me as my own. I have developed an extensive interest in screenwriting narrative theory and am particularly fascinated by the relationship between intuitive writing and the more conscious process of applying the three act structure.