What do you write? Why this in particular?
I write mostly transgressive fiction, which is defined as a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways. My characters, in other words, colour outside of society’s lines: they are hustlers, addicts, gangsters, killers, thieves; they are the lost, the lonely, the broken-hearted. Why these characters in particular? I think I’m drawn to them in my own writing and in other people’s writing because, quite simply, they are more interesting to me. And, honestly, I see something of myself reflected in some of these characters, too.
What got you started on writing in the first place?
I’ve always loved stories – any stories, in any format – and I have a love for and a fascination with words and language. I can remember writing stories as a child, at school and at home, and it was something I returned to several years ago. At the beginning of 2015, encouraged by a colleague at the time, I decided to take my writing more seriously and to pursue publication. Since then, ongoing, I’ve committed considerable time and effort to what is now my main interest: getting my own words on the page.
Do you have a particular routine?
I don’t have a writing routine, no. I have a full-time job (I teach English Language and Literature at a local secondary school) and I have three young children, so I write when I can, which, unfortunately, is not often. Certainly, it’s not often enough for me to be able to put on the page all of the ideas and stories swirling round in my head.
Do you have a dedicated working space?
I have a big dining table in the living room of the rented flat where I live, and this is where I do all of my writing.
When did you decide to call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
I’ve never called myself a writer. I tell people I’m a teacher – it’s my job, my career; it’s what pays the bills – whose main hobby is writing.
How supportive are your family and friends?
My family and friends are great in many ways, not only through their interest in and support of my writing. Despite my job, despite my writing, I’ll never have the words to adequately express how much love I have for all of them.
What are you most proud of in your writing?
I’m most proud of my recently-published single-author collection, Whisky for Breakfast, because it’s the culmination of years of time and effort. I see it as a huge personal achievement and I’m delighted to finally be able to hold the book in my hands.
How do you get on with editing and research?
I enjoy research and – when writing about real people and real places, even as part of pieces of work that are predominantly fictional – I try to make sure they are represented as accurately as possible.
Do you have any goals for the future?
I would like to publish a second collection of short stories and a collection of short stories written entirely in Scottish/Glaswegian vernacular. The first drafts of both of these collections are almost finished. My ultimate aim is to finish writing my historical novel, The Fifth Philosophy.
Which writers have inspired you?
I’ve always been a voracious reader – my parents read to me and my brother when we were children and there were always books in our house – and, until quite recently, I read something almost every day for about twenty years. Stephen King says ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time – or the tools – to write.’ I think this is absolutely true (I wouldn’t dare disagree with the man!) and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to write anything decent without first having read, among many others, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway and Chuck Palahniuk. And Stephen King himself, of course. I’m a huge admirer of Shakespeare, too.