Hi. I’m an aspiring children’s author. Here’s some background about my chaotic career so far…
I have a scientific background, gaining my Environmental Science degree from Lancaster University in 1993. It was so much fun that I went back to university and spent the next three years messing about in boats in the Lake District.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. One day I found myself wearing a black robe with a red stripe (so not my colour), a hat that looked as if it had been run over by a steam-roller and holding a certificate that allowed me to call myself “Dr”. Of course, I never actually do this because then people will start to tell me all about their bad backs and worse.
The next step was getting a real job in the real world. I suppose you could say I achieved this. I ended up making mud pies in a laboratory that overlooked Lake Windermere in the Lake District. Yes, I know it sounds highly improbable - but fact is often stranger than fiction. I had an interesting time playing the archetypal mad scientist. However, after five years it was time to move on when the Institute faced relocation with the inevitable downsizing.
So there I was, eager for a new challenge – but what could it be? I’d spent most of my life messing about in labs and it was difficult trying to work out what to do next. In some ways, I still haven’t figured it out. In the last five years, I’ve taught English to overseas students (good fun), done some book marketing (publishers are fascinating people), photocopied hundreds of reports (yuk!), tried radiography (skeletons are more interesting than you think and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and worked in publishing. At the moment I’m doing voluntary work in the communications department of a Christian charity. I think it’s my favourite job of the lot.
So where does writing come into all this? Well, among all the chaos, the one thing that’s remained constant is my love of writing. Over the last five years, I’ve had some spare time on my hands and I’ve used it to write. I’ve always wanted to have a crack at writing a novel and The Apprentice Web Agent is the end result.
The central theme of the book is the Internet. If there’s one invention that has dramatically changed people’s life styles in the last twenty or so years, it’s the Internet. I wanted to write a novel about adventures inside the Internet because I love fantasy stories and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to physically travel inside the Internet.
The main character of the book is an eleven-year-old boy called Jonathan Rocket who lives on the quiet island of Tarrashay. As the story opens, Jonathan finds himself longing for adventure. I think there’s a bit of Jonathan in most of us. Who hasn’t watched an adventure movie or read an exciting book as a kid and longed for the ultimate adventure? Of course, most of us have to wait until we’re a bit older (and wiser) before we can go off exploring without the restrictions of adult supervision. But what would happen if we did have an adventure on our own? Would it really be a thrilling experience or would it turn into the ultimate nightmare? How would we cope? As I wrote the story, I wanted to put Jonathan Rocket into situations he’d never imagined would happen in his wildest dreams and see what happened.
The Apprentice Web Agent is set on the fictitious island of Tarrashay in Scotland. It is a blend of favourite childhood holiday destinations (the north-east coast and Scotland). My inspiration for Tarrashay came from Holy Island, just off the north-east coast near Bamburgh. I spent many happy holidays at Bamburgh as a child and we had several trips across the nearby causeway road to Holy Island. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of an island that wasn’t quite an island, i.e. it’s connected to the mainland twice a day at low tide. Starlight Castle (Jonathan’s home) is loosely based on Bamburgh Castle - a fairytale castle that overlooks a beautiful sandy beach.
The other major influence for The Apprentice Web Agent was my scientific background. After my years working in a research institute, I couldn’t resist including a scientist in my first novel (Jonathan’s Dad). Although to be fair to the scientific community, I didn’t come across many scientists who are quite as eccentric as Lord Rocket. Anyway, I had so much fun writing my novel, I'm planning another. Watch this space...