I spent most of my childhood (just) on a hill farm in Radnorshire, which looked a bit like Penllan in The Claude Glass and is the source of my enthusiasm for Wales, hills, castles, birds of prey and How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoban. For a couple of years, we lived on a strawberry farm in Herefordshire, which had a castle of its own and complimentary strawberries. Then we returned to the border.
I spent three years at Royal Holloway College, University of London. A is in its debt.
I tried four or five times to live in London but I couldn’t.
Among other things I have worked as a journalist, a sawmiller, a screenwriter, a tractor driver, a T-shirt salesman and a Zimbabwean music promoter.
For the past ten years I have lived in Breconshire. Firstly, in a remote, inconvenient and entirely beautiful house above the Elan Valley reservoirs in the Cambrian Mountains, where you could see 30 miles from the kitchen window and, being off the mains, had to run a laptop off tractor batteries and a very old generator which preferred not to work in cold weather, which was much of the time. As I have since discovered, the house is well-known in certain circles for an alien abduction in 1909. It was also the original inspiration for Peter J. Conradi’s superb At the Bright Hem of God: Radnorshire Pastoral.
Now I live in the Brecon Beacons with my wife Charlie and our two small, vocal children. It is here that I have written Konstantin and Addlands – often while tramping round the hill, Mynydd Illtyd, since views of the Epynt, Pen-y-Fan and the Black Mountains do wonders for thinking clearly. Our hall is papered with The Tempest, Lanark by Alasdair Gray, The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban – arranged so that you can read them round the walls. There are books and bits of paper pretty much everywhere. Across the lane, on a sort of tumulus, is a fibreglass canal boat I may one day transform into somewhere to work.
At present I am a Visiting Fellow at the University of South Wales. I am at the very early stages of a story that may become an Elan Valley novel.