Life has a funny way of turning out. You can say much the same about writing.
To say I started out a programmer is putting it a bit strong, though I did once dabble (amateurishly) in a little Z80 assembler language.
My first forays into creative writing came towards the tail-end of the eight-bit microcomputer era, writing text adventure games for the ZX Spectrum 48K and 128K computers.
By all accounts I was rather good at it. Well, I did some earn some favourable reviews, and even an award for my final game. So it was good to end on a high note.
I’d caught the writing bug by then, and haven’t really looked back since.
My journey into the world of words took me through Liverpool University – to study political theory – and then on to the City University, London, where I undertook post-graduate training as a journalist.
After graduating, it was a few years before I landed my first media job. My own silly fault, I suppose; I kind of distracted myself writing what was to become Citizen Zero.
But when that first job came, it was in an unexpected place – my home city of Bradford – working for a publisher of textile industry trade journals.
Redundancy and a move to Stoke-on-Trent (long story) put paid to that. Between times though, I dabbled with a little freelance writing, some for Writers Online, and a few one-off features placed here and there.
These days I work in Manchester, writing about a very different subject: England’s social housing system. No, this isn’t property journalism; some days, it’s more like I’m chronicling a real-life dystopian nightmare (send help).
The subject seems to agree with me, though; I’ve been covering it for years now.
That’s the thing about my writing; I seem to have a reputation for the dystopian. Maybe I’ve earned it, but there’s more to my work. I cover a lot of ground. Fiction, yes, but articles and essays, too, on a whole range of topics.
A quick glance at my author blog will show I like to get around, but I guess there are recurring themes. We’ve all got them. I like to write about what interests me, and sometimes I don’t know what that is until it catches my eye.
Much the same might be said for my fiction. Over the years, I’ve come to be seen as a science fiction author. I’m okay with this, but I tend to write to the story first, genre second if at all.
As a writer, I guess I do tend to fly by the seat of my pants. Much the same could be said about life, I’ve never really been one for plans (which probably explains a lot).