About Richard

I call it "the journey", because that’s exactly what it has been. I don’t really know why I liked or started writing, but it all began when I was around nine years old. I remember my mum, Sylvie, telling me that her father used to like writing. I’m not sure if that’s the connection, but it could be. However, through the years, her encouragement to write was definitely a factor. I can recall being about ten, and reading one of my stories aloud to the whole class at school. The teacher had said it was so good that everyone should hear it. From that time, and throughout secondary school, when stories were set for homework, I felt the urge to write long, elaborate ones - and, more often than not, gained top marks for them.

Whilst I enjoyed writing the stories for homework, I was also writing my own in my spare time. There was a spell, from the ages of 12 to 14, when I was doing 5,000 word, hand-written stories in customised exercise books, cut down and made to look like novels. I would design the cover and be very proud of my efforts. I got my brother, George, to design one cover, and it was so good that it was better than the story! I still have those books to this day. George designed the impressive cover to Time Trap, but I hope history hasn’t repeated itself. He has also done a great job on the illustrations, but more about them later.

When I left school, I continued to write. I started a story, (again, hand-written) when I was 17 and completed it three years and 80,000 words later. It proved that I had the capacity to write long stories, though many of my writing techniques left a lot to be desired. But back then, I just loved to write.

Believe it or not, I started piecing together Time Trap, which was initially called A Change in Time, in 1984, when I was around 22. It was my love of Victorian London that started it all; and were it not for my passion for that era, I don’t think I would have continued with the same story. (The old adage 'write about what you know and like' is definitely true!) For the first three years or so, all I had was a feeble plot and some character names. Hector, Simon and Jamie were all there back then, but Todd was Harrison, originally. It was then put to one side, and my writing ceased for about five years, as other pursuits got in the way. Then, as I hit 30, a huge urge stirred within me and I picked up the pen again. I fell in love with writing once more and wrote the first and second chapters for the first plot of A Change in Time.

I gave the two chapters to my mum and sister, Sylvie, (my mum and sister have the same name) to read, and they liked them, which gave me the support I needed. And so I began to write a chapter and then hand it to them, a bit like Charles Dickens did when he serialized one of his stories to a newspaper. My mum and sister would be waiting for the next installment which was good for me, it spurred me on.

A Change in Time was finished in 1995, and much enjoyed by my mum and sister. It was hand-written on lined paper and about 100,000 words. My next step was getting it printed. I bought a word processor and began the laborious task of typing it all in. Although it was a state-of-the-art piece of kit back then, only five lines were visible on the narrow screen and when one page was printed, it would thump along at a very slow speed.

Over the next three years or so, I began sending sample chapters to agents and publishers - something which I was to do many times over the years, but always without success.

In 1999, I began to take writing seriously, and went on and completed a writing course, and studied how-to books on the subject. I should have done this when I was much younger, I know, but at least I started. I sent my story to an appraiser for the first time that same year. She told me the story was way too long and didn’t have a chance of publication.

With that statement, and at that moment, my determination and real belief in myself and my story kicked in - with added encouragement from my mum, I carried on. I wanted a second opinion, so in 2001, I sent the ms to another appraiser - Jean Evans - and it was she who pointed out to me where I was going wrong. It was as if I had been looking down the wrong end of a telescope from the start! I had two plot-changes in mind: the current one, and the one I went with at the time - which involved angels. I sent sample chapters to agents and publishers, but with the same result: not interested.

The years past, and in 2006, I changed the plot to the present one. The scientific elements of the story needed quite a bit of work, so I got my nephew, Carl Smith, involved. He put right all the technical facts on time-travel, making it sound quite feasible. At about this time, I was also struggling to find a new, punchier title. Once again, it was Jean Evans who helped me. She said, 'Why don’t you call it Time Trap?' I had my new, ‘punchier’ title. Over the next few months, I worked on improving the story.

The following year, I met someone who has been a big help and inspiration to me: Ken Titmuss. I heard him on the Robert Elms Radio Show, talking about his London walks, London Trails, and he just happened to be talking about an area of London which features in Time Trap: St Giles, where the Holton Gang have their hideout. I contacted Ken and he took me on an entertaining St Giles walk. As Ken is very much into maps, it was his idea to have a map in the book, pointing out the locations, and his inspired suggestion to have the Time Trap Trail - details of which can be found on this website.

The year 2009 was an important one. In early January, I found another appraiser, whose editing lifted the story to an altogether higher level. Pat Richardson of Perfectly Worded has brought Time Trap up to publication standard, and were it not for her mmarvelousinput, I wouldn't be going down the road of Print-on-Demand.

In March 2009, I attended the centenary of Uphall School, in Ilford, my junior school, where I actually looked into that classroom I mentioned earlier, when I first had a sense of myself as a writer, reading aloud one of my stories to the class. During the 2009 visit to my former school, I told the Deputy Head, Kulvarn Atwal, about Time Trap (which, by then, Pat had much improved). He asked me to bring it in, and said he’d get a teacher to read it to a class - which he did. Afterwards, I was invited to meet the class, which was a great experience. We had a Q & A session lasting about an hour, then the children told me which parts of the story and which characters they’d liked. Some of the pupils even said they would like to take up writing, after seeing what I have achieved, which gave me much satisfaction.

The glowing reviews from 25 pupils confirmed my belief that Time Trap is a good story. Yet, even though two literary agents have since then asked to read the whole MS - which in itself is an accomplishment - I still failed to find an agent or publisher.

In 2011, I made contact with one of my old Secondary School teachers, Ian Franklin, who is a New Zealander and lives there. The last time I saw him was back in 1977, when I was writing my ‘customised novels’. He helped with the story, via emails, and it was his suggestion to have illustrations in the book, but I wasn’t keen on the idea. I went to see him in early 2012, and again, he mentioned illustrations, and still I was against it. Then, when the printers had the story, I had a change of heart, and could see the benefits with illustrations, and an eleventh-hour decision was made to include them.

Time Trap was released on November 7th 2012. A big breakthrough came in February of 2013, when the British Museum decided to stock it in the Great Court Shop. At around this time, Bookmarks Bookshop in Bloomsbury Street also took on the book. The book was featured in April's Covent Garden magazine, and I have been into Highlands Primary School for a book signing. After all the years working on Time Trap, it is so rewarding to have my work appreciated by an audience wider than friends and family.

Even though I have yet to find a publisher, I hope that if you read the book and possibly go on the Trail, you will agree that it is worthy of such an occurrence.

And now. I'm pleased to reveal my new book, The Darziods' Stone, which took seven years to complete, including a couple of years of inactivity, when I struggled with the plot. It's aimed at a teenage readership, twice the length of Time Trap, and I'm hoping I get as many favourable reviews.