Best Known Works: A Dream of Unknowing
Where Can You Find Him? Amazon, Tumblr
Top Writing Tip: My top tip would be my own mantra: don’t stop. Writing can be mind-numbing, exhausting and sometimes soul destroying (especially when you get negative feedback). The trick is to write for yourself and not worry about what other people think.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us!
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing poetry as a teenager and it just developed from there. The reasons why, I am not sure. Perhaps because I wasn’t really able to articulate what I saw and felt to myself, so it needed writing down, rearranging and made real in the world, for me to be able to make sense of it.
When did you realise that you were Pagan?
In my 20’s I came back to the UK and went to live on the Isle of Mull. There I tried to research as much as I could about Celtic paganism and spirituality and realised many aspects were in tune with my own personal beliefs. I met some folks from Findhorn, made pagan friends, and together with a person who became very important to me spent a lot of time over that two year period camped out on wild beaches or on hilltops ‘looking for that little bit more’.
Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?
I was born in the UK but because of my father’s job, I grew up in the Middle-East, Africa, India and the Caribbean. I was always interested in writing and began writing poetry at an early age. This developed into wanting to tell stories that, a bit like poetry, offered more than just a good yarn.
Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?
A Dream of Unknowing is my first published work. However, when I was living in India I published a collection of poetry which was read by about six people (I had to buy the other 94 copies from the publisher at cost to keep him happy) so doesn’t really count. Hopefully, sales will be a bit better this time.
Tell us a bit about your story, key characters, and plot.
A Dream of Unknowing is basically four separate tales detailing events that took place in and around the villages of Osikovce, where I now live, and Konkusova Dolina in the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia over a 400 years period. My stories are reworkings of older tales from the region, and bits of legend that I have stitched together to suit the purpose of the book. The region where the book is set has a long history of paganism/witchcraft which still exists to this day; and the essence of my book is about how this traditional paganism, rather than the reinvented paganism, survives to this day. The title story, the first of the four, is said to be a parable and there were quite a few people in Osikovce who did not want it written down or published.
How did the topic of your book come to you?
I moved to the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia about 9 years ago and the rest...well, it’s in the book.
Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process?
Self-published. A couple of smaller publishing houses offered me a contract, but they always wanted me to subsidise the process. If I had the money I probably would have taken them up on the offer, but as I don’t...
Who encourages/inspires you?
My eldest son is nine years old and loves listening to old stories. We are fortunate to live next to a beautiful forest and on long walks, we tell each other tales of what might be happening just around the next bend or over the brow of the next hill. He is my greatest inspiration in all things, not just writing.
Where do you go when you need to recharge?
About a fifteen-minute walk from my house there is an old abandoned spring called Marta’s Well. This place features quite prominently in one of the tales but is not nearly so…disturbing. The spring is dry now, but it’s still has a cool dampness about it which still makes you think of it as a watery place. There are thick ferns, violets and beautiful mosses all over the old stonework. During the summer it’s one of the best places I know to while away the day.
What are your future plans for writing?
My next book, The Fall of Petarov, is almost finished. This is a more personal look at my time in the Carpathians, how I came about the stories in A Dream of Unknowing, and how the book itself got written. It’s not a biography, but more like a fictionalised telling of what I’ve been up to in Osikovce. The events, people, and places are real, but I’ve added a bit of padding to make it more readable. It also looks at some of the traditions, rituals and pagan goings-on that happen here.
Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process! We wish you the best of luck with this book and your future work!