I was born in the village of Beaulieu, Hampshire, home to the National Motor Museum, where I got my first job - as a monorail driver. My three sisters and I were brought up in countryside surroundings that were utterly idyllic until we became teenagers, at which point we yearned to go to London. I've spent most of my career in publishing - books, magazines, journals, web sites - most recently as MD of the political publisher Verso. I've edited everything from literary fiction to legals texts, but my real ambition was always to be a novelist. I started writing properly about five years ago. I love thrillers, adventures and crime, and I had in my mind a strong, intelligent and slightly obsessive character who is capable of great violence, but also feels deeply uneasy about it. This man became James Palatine, the hero of 'Little Sister'. Thinking about James Palatine's character led me to read books about soldiery and violence, and in particular how people react to the experience of killing a fellow human being. This research fed into 'Say a Little Prayer', which I wrote immediately after 'Little Sister', although it is a prequel to that story. I live with my wife in Tufnell Park, London, where we brought up our three children. For a hobby, I refurbish old steel bicycles from the 1950s and 60s, which I ride around on - rather gingerly, for fear of crashing their clunky old gears or taxing their rudimentary brakes. The Jack Taylor racing bike that features in Say a Little Prayer is one I own, and is just as smooth and sprightly as described. I have three things in common with my hero, James Palatine: we are both very tall; we both practise t'ai chi; and we both attended a series of dank, cheerless and cruelty-stalked boarding schools, scenes from which appear in 'Say a Little Prayer'.Read more Read less
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