Why did you start writing?
I worked as a chemist for over thirty years with BP Chemicals at Baglan Bay. The factory closed in 2002, so I decided to pursue my interests of music and literature. I’ve played guitar in several bands since and have written many songs and poems. My first book (with Geraint Davies) was a biography of Welsh language singer/songwriter/actor Geraint Griffiths. Next was a journal of my bike journey around the coastline of Wales from Chester to Chepstow. My third book was a light-hearted look at the relationship between song lyrics and poetry – can lyrics be regarded as poetry? Everything is hand written first and then typed out. I actually enjoy the physical process of putting pen to paper
How did you become a writer of children’s stories?
My granddaughter, Freya, was born in September 2010. I wanted to give her some sort of special gift so I wrote a short rhyming story called ‘Trevor the One Eyed Tractor’. Then in February 2013, Freya’s sister, Ayla, was born, so I had to write something for Ayla as well. This turned out to be ‘Darren the Dragon’. I enjoyed writing this so much that I decided to expand it into a series of six. Each of these stories has a distinctly Welsh flavour and Darren and the Draaken (Part II in the series) will be released in July.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My first three books focused on subjects I was interested in and knew quite a lot about – I just felt compelled to write them. I also get some inspiration from a poetry group based at the Lorelei in Porthcawl. It’s a once a month ‘poems and pints’ meeting of very talented and friendly people. A challenge is set by the winner of the previous month’s challenge which gives me the impetus to write regularly. As far as the children’s writing is concerned, I’ve always enjoyed humorous poems by the likes of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Spike Milligan and Roger McGough. I love Julia Donaldson’s ‘Gruffalo’. It’s the perfect rhyming story picture book. I wanted to write in a similar way, but also to keep a Welsh influence in my writing. That’s largely how Darren the Dragon came about – oh, and there was also a certain amount of perspiration involved as well!
Have you got more books planned?
I’ve already written the first five books in the Darren the Dragon series. I have an idea for number six and will be starting on that soon. Also with the publishers at the moment is an anthology of shorter poems and limericks called ‘How to be a Dog’ which, hopefully, will be released around Christmas 2014. I’ve also started work on a second anthology titled ‘Antics on the Allotment’.
Do you have any other interests?
People say to me, ‘What do you do with all your spare time, now that you’re retired?’ My answer is always, ‘I’m so busy now that I don’t know how I found time to work before!’ Athletics is my most time consuming hobby. I run every day and still compete in Masters Athletics. A few weeks ago I won a silver medal in the pentathlon at the Welsh Masters Championships – the first time in my life that I’ve ever done this event. Added to that I’m treasurer, membership secretary, kit secretary and race organiser for Port Talbot Harriers. I’m also president of Welsh Masters Athletics. I have a keen interest in pop music and play bass guitar and rhythm guitar in two bands. Not a hobby I suppose, but my family also plays an important part in my life. We babysit on a regular basis for our two young granddaughters, and it’s been a delight to watch them develop as they’ve grown over the last few years.