I’m a writer. I’ve always known that. When I was 10, I stood on the stage at Benton Park primary school in Newcastle upon Tyne, where I grew up, and read the assembled parents and children a story I’d written. It was called The Garden and it was set in Shropshire, which I find interesting because I now live in Shropshire (having previously lived in Africa and North America) but back then I didn’t know where Shropshire was. I set the story there because I thought it sounded like a nice place to be (which I now know it is). But it all started long before that.
When I was four years old, I sat on an outside lavatory with the door open and my pants around my ankles. I don’t doubt that anyone passing by in the yard thought, “Look at that disgusting little boy,” but inside my head I wasn’t a disgusting little boy – I was driving a horse-drawn gypsy caravan down a dusty road towards some place I’d never been (which is why the door was open – I needed to see where I was going) and telling myself stories about what I saw as I went along.
What makes a writer? I have no idea. Would I rather have been something else? Probably. But the act of creation – conceiving ideas and turning them into a form other people can see and understand – gives me more happiness than anything else I know.
My breakthrough year came in 1989 when I sold my first book to a publisher, my first article to a magazine, and my first short story to BBC Radio 4 for what in those days was Morning Story.
I write contemporary fiction under my own name, historical fiction as RJ Lynch, and police procedurals as JJ Sullivan As well as that I have ghost written more than sixty books that have been published with other people’s names on them and I also work for two publishers as an editor and book doctor.