I am a former British police officer who lives in Central England. Different life experiences, near-death encounters, reduced physical abilities, and emotional incidents have combined to provide a firm foundation for my books, short storiespoems, and paintings.

At the age of 30, after combining an accidental blow to my head with a late-night party, I survived my first massive stroke. To return to my job as a police officer proved to be a sometimes amusing, sometimes daunting struggle that took 18 months. With great pride in this achievement, I survived another 11 years as a fully operational, uniformed police sergeant. During this time, I stretched my mind to the limit by studying for an Open University degree.

Nine years after that first stroke, everything was put on hold with the collapse of my 19-year marriage. Throughout the loneliness and despair of being separated from my family and no home other than a 9 ft by 6 ft rented room, prayer sustained me and brought me to a new life, new love, but most of all, a loving and welcoming family that was happy to claim me as their own.

It was meant to be a happy ever after ending to the tragedies, but just 16 days after my second marriage, a road accident caused a second major stroke, bringing my working life to an abrupt end. Undaunted and determined to defy the paralysis, I revived my pre-stroke interests in art and music.

My paintings have been generously described as breathtaking. Some of my paintings can be seen on this website.

Despite having a right arm that I can barely control, I managed to play the violin, and achieve respectable marks in grade exams for both piano and keyboard.

After a third stroke came my way, I turned my attention towards writing. I began with a few short stories and then produced my first full-length novel. I engaged a professional copy editor, and between us, we produced a great and presumably error-free story, but for me, it felt as though I had lost something. Not in the writing, for the words on the paper were still my words and my voice told the story, but something deep-rooted and personal had been taken away.

This is difficult to explain, but since that first stroke, I have been driven by something deep inside that compels me to succeed by my own merits. While studying art at the local college, the tutor once took my brush and tried to demonstrate a technique by adjusting the picture on my canvas. This was his way. He would move from student to student, take up the brush or pencil and twiddle with the image, but for me, the painting had become distant, remote and no longer wholly mine. I can only attribute this overwhelming sense of loss to the brain damage caused by the strokes.

That was the same feeling of loss I felt with my first professionally edited novel. I had lost the much-needed sense of personal achievement, which until then had been the driving force in my post-stroke recovery. Although the editing was excellent in every respect, for me, the book had lost its spirit. I grew to despise it for the simple reason that it betrayed not my achievement, but only what I had accomplished with another’s input. Just as it was no longer my painting on the easel, they were no longer my words on the page. I took the decision to abandon the novel. My first venture into becoming an author was nearly my last, but one characteristic I share with the fictional protagonist in my crime novels is we do not give up. We never say, “I can’t.”

Just as I had done with my music and art, I applied myself to studying. I followed on-line courses and read everything I could lay my hands on until I’d learned various editing practices and techniques. I focused on developing a system to hone my writing through several different stages until it was my best, and not my best as enhanced, improved, or adjusted by someone else.

My first stroke wiped away my language memory, so the only English words that remained were ‘every’ and ‘each’. My books reflect all that I have learned since through dedication, application, and perseverance. Each word I write represents another step along the journey, and if you have ever had a stroke, you might appreciate how difficult a step can be.

However, I never recommend any writer edit their own work unless like me, they only have half a brain and have spent years trying to perfect a system that works, but I have taken on the challenge and enjoyed every step on the way. My books have each received amazing reviews and the occasional bad review, but whether it is 5 stars or 1, I feel I have a right to claim every single star as my own. Some of my self-edited novels have reached the final rounds of prestigious competitions. My stroke memoir, Never say I Can’t, has received an IndieBRAG medallion.

I am always happy to help other authors wherever I can, and have designed covers, suggested editing and helped with promotions, but these days, almost all my time is spent as a coordinator for Awesome Indies Book Awards.

Life is wonderful. Live it. Love it. Enjoy it. 

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