On the Borderlands of Haunting and Healing

I grew up in a ruined environment. This was on the south-western margins of Essex, adjoining East London. It was an area which had been built up very rapidly after the Second World War, with thought only to rehouse working families wishing to start a new and better life away from the war-ravaged east of London, but with no regard to preserving it as a long-term, nurturing environment for people to live in. It was ugly, plain and soulless. Scraps of what had once been remained; pieces of semi-marshland, an abandoned Georgian farmhouse, a derelict WW2 aerodrome. As a small child, opposite our house stood some old cottages in a meadow with a brook running through; but this was soon razed, along with its two soaring elm trees, and built over with an estate of box-like bungalows. I can honestly say that a sense of this ruination, along with an awareness that the very soul and identity of the place had been banished, has stayed with me ever since. There was, however, also a feeling that this could never be true destruction; by which I mean that there is a sense of something having been smothered but still essentially present, waiting to be heard and perhaps to return when its times comes, even if it were to take millennia. I suppose that the supernatural thread in much of my work could be seen as a metaphor for this very particular kind of haunting.


In moving to Wales I have found a spiritual home. My mother was Welsh, and going further back in my father’s line (he was from the East End), there was also a Welsh connection – his grandfather hailed from North Wales – so it was in many ways a coming home; more than that, the rural location in which I live, and especially the very unusual setting of my house (a healing place, as my darling Auntie Mona once said), have allowed my imagination and creative energies to flourish. Yes, I’ll say it: I believe we were led to this place. Both it and the stifled Essex marshlands have been mined fruitfully for my fiction. More of all this in future posts…


I trained professionally as an actor in London, and worked as an actor, and I am increasingly aware that this too plays a vital part in my writing. Many people have been kind enough to comment on the quality of the dialogue in my work, and it is certainly true that dialogue makes up a substantial part of most of my fiction. My writing is also frequently dramatic and intense in nature and again, from feedback I have received, these seem to be elements which very much engage readers, drawing them into the very particular world of the narrative. Acting too, at its best, requires an intuitive emotional connection; I hope that this also feeds into my narrative worlds and the characters that people them.

On the edge of existence… the relic marshland of suburban Essex
The healing place…
… led home to Wales

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