I get a lot of queries from students writing book reports and so I thought I’d gather some of the information you might be looking for here, along with other trivia about yours truly.
Of course, you can still contact me if you have more questions.
Be warned. This page includes at least one embarrassing picture of me as a boy!
Where were you born and where did you go to school?
I was born in Gert Lush Bristol on 18th April. This means I share my birthday with David Tennant (the Doctor!), Eric Roberts (the Master!) and Nigel Kneale (the creator of Quatermass). This makes me happy.
- I went to Filton Avenue Primary School and then Filton High School in North Bristol. After leaving sixth form in 1991, I headed up north to the University of Manchester where I studied Theology.
- My favourite subjects at school were English, Art, History and RE. Unfortunately, I was generally rubbish at both football and rugby, but loved playing basketball.
- My favourite toys as a kid were LEGO (I still love it now), Transformers, Masters of the Universe and Action Man.
Did you always want to be a writer?
- Sort of. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a journalist or a Blue Peter presenter. One day, I still hope to get a Blue Peter badge!
- I used to regularly make magazines about our family life at home, wandering around after my long-suffering parents, interviewing them on a portable tape recorder about what they had done that day.
What was your first job?
- My first ever job was stock control in the underwear section of my local Tesco. Yes, really.
- My worst job was washing up at McDonald’s. Especially after breakfast. Rivers of grease. Bluergh.
Have you always lived in Bristol?
- Nope. I’ve also lived in Manchester and Bath.
What did you do before you became a writer?
- Before I became a full-time writer, I worked as a magazine journalist and then editor.
- The first magazine I worked on was T3, a magazine about technology and gadgets published by Future Publishing. I started as the mag’s staff writer, eventually working myself up to Features Editor. I loved working on T3, and got to travel all over the world, playing with amazing toys including AIBO, Sony’s robot dog (I always wanted my own K9!)
- I went on to edit magazines about computing, technology the internet, tracing your family tree, puzzles, movies and science.
- My last editing job at Future Publishing was as group editor of a number of kid’s magazines including Jetix, Disney Big Time, Disney Girl, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pixar’s Cars and more. I’ve also edited Ben 10 and Moshi Monsters magazines.
- In 2007, I launched Countryfile magazine based on the BBC TV programme.
- Over the years, I’ve written for dozens of newspapers and magazines, including the Evening Standard, Independent, Doctor Who Magazine, EDGE, Total Film, SFX, Computer Arts, and Comic Heroes.
How did you get to work on Doctor Who?
- My first ever professional Doctor Who work was Project Twilight, a Sixth Doctor audio drama produced by Big Finish in 2001. It was co-written with Mark Wright, who I first met when we were introduced by a mutual friend, Steve O’Brien. We had previously written a short story, Christmas Spirit which appeared in The Dead Men Diaries which was published in 2000.
- The first story we pitched together was a Doctor Who novel called The Fires of Darkness, which was set in Pompeii. BBC Books liked the idea, but Big Finish had already – and by complete coincidence – commissioned The Fires of Vulcan by Steve Lyons which was also set in the ancient Roman City.
- We pitched Project Twilight to Big Finish Producer Gary Russell, in 2000. Originally it was going to be called Blood Money, was set in Las Vegas, and featured the Seventh Doctor and Ace, as played by Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. Gary asked us to switch Doctors and set it in London, and Project: Twilight was born.
- Mark and I would go on to write many different audio plays and books. Our last work to date was Doctor Who: Eternal Battle, a fourth Doctor audio adventure which we wrote in 2015, but was finally released in 2017. While we haven’t written together for a while, Mark and I remain really good mates, chatting everyday. I was very proud to be one of Mark’s Best Men at his wedding, and he is the godfather to my eldest daughter, Chloe.
What’s your favourite…?
- Favourite book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Favourite film: Ghostbusters (but there are SO many others, including, of course, the Star Wars Movies, plus the Bond movies (Live and Let Die is my default 007 film, in case you were wondering), and Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and EVERYTHING by Guillermo del Toro, and Oliver, and… and… oh it’s so hard to choose this one!
- Favourite TV series: Doctor Who (which will be a surprise to absolutely no one!)
- Favourite song: ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen
- Favourite album: ‘Hunky Dory’ by David Bowie
- Football team: Bristol City