Everyone says I was a strange child. I couldn’t wait to go to bed at night, and insisted on all lights being switched off so I could tell myself stories. I spent my early childhood in Malta and I wasn’t perturbed by the ghost that haunted the house in which I lived. He terrified the adults, taking heavy curtains off rails, walking through doors and stomping upstairs to my room where he’d be seen standing at the foot of my bed. Was he somehow connected to the urn of ashes cemented to the window ledge on the landing? But I wasn’t afraid of him, I knew he belonged to the house just as much I did.
I’ve always felt that certain landscapes, though not necessarily haunted, are possessed by a spirit of the place, which has its own personality and moods just as much as any character. In fact, the landscape almost becomes a character in my novels. I now live on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. It’s a beautiful, tranquil place in sunshine, but a swirling mist can descend within minutes, transforming the moor into a menacing wilderness of jagged tors and black sucking mires. And this shape-shifting landscape very much inspired my latest medieval thriller, A Gathering of Ghosts.
Throughout my life I’ve done all kinds things to earn a living, including working as a chicken sexer, a cleaner, a hospital worker and a lecturer, even playing a jewel thief in a series of security training videos for the diamond cutting industry. It was all great raw material for becoming a writer, and my first novel, The White Room, published in 1996, drew heavily on my experiences of terrorism while working in Nigeria and Belfast.
For the next few years, I became part of a writing team producing non-fiction books about all kinds of people from prostitutes to politicians, which was a wonderful apprenticeship in writing. But I was desperate to return to fiction and to an idea I’d had for a medieval novel some years before. It took twelve years of research before I felt ready to write the first two of my medieval thrillers – Company of Liars and The Owl Killers. I’ve since written six other novels, The Gallows Curse, Falcons of Fire and Ice, The Vanishing Witch, The Raven’s Head, The Plague Charmer and A Gathering of Ghosts, as well as three digital e-shorts – Liars and Thieves, The Dangerous Art of Alchemy and Wicked Children: Murderous Tales from History.
In addition to my own medieval thrillers, I’ve been lucky enough to write five joint medieval crime novels with the Medieval Murderers, a wonderful group of historical authors who include Philip Gooden, Susanna Gregory, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight, and Ian Morson.