I’m from the Scottish Borders and write plays for stage and radio, fiction and journalism.
I started writing when I was around 9, when a fantastic teacher, John Stables, ignited my imagination with a diet of hobbits, trillions, Watership Down, Animal Farm and Canterbury Tales. My ‘Hawick Tales’ are still lying in a drawer somewhere. Development hell.
Fastforward through teen years devouring Frank L Baum, Justin Norton, Mervyn Peake, Hesse, Keats, Kafka and Brecht, then a German and French degree at Oxford University, when I learned to be so in awe of Literature with a capital ‘L’ that I stopped writing.
Then the language years: Germany as a translator for the German Foreign Office, BBC World Service, Swiss Radio International. Getting fluent in German, and worse at English. Performing in and writing plays whenever possible.
Then back to Scotland to relearn English, and to Write. With a capital ‘W’. The Wilderness Years. Learning, drafting, tearing up (the paper kind, the lachrymose kind) and sometimes getting published in anthologies.
The Scottish Arts Council gave me a New Writers’ Award. I spent time writing in Grez-sur-Loing in France on the RL Stevenson Fellowship. The Traverse Theatre came and gave playwriting workshops and opened up drama veins. This was transformative. Nutshell Theatre pushed me further. Less Literature, more drama, and (hurray!) two Fringe First awards at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Mostly recently, I wrote a play for wonderful MA students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Something clunked into place. Realised I could write! Forever grateful to those guys for being open, inquiring and passionate about their craft. May they go far.
Now: still learning, drafting, tearing up (both kinds) and wrestling words for a living.
Still in awe of writers, but with a more solid appreciation of the grind and craft. Less mystique, more muscle.
I’m currently developing another site, Method Writing, on writing for a living, and techniques writing professionals use but tend not to tell you.