My latest (and so far only) book is Beyond The Comfort Zone. It is a memoir of a short period in my life. Having enjoyed a career as a professional musician for the rich and famous, in 2002 I moved to south east Asia where I eventually came into contact with the child trafficking trade. Together with an acquaintance and the help of a US organization we attempt to gain the confidence of the traffickers and bring them to justice – saving the cargo in the process. There is a little bit in there about those hedonistic days of traveling the world as a highly paid musician, but this is really just a foil to throw into stark contrast the subsequent adventure in Asia. It’s a tale that follows two young men trying to do the right thing and in the process nearly losing themselves as they spiral downwards into a shadowy world where human lives, at least their lives, are worth nothing. There is danger, intrigue, high emotion and a fragile love story woven together in what I hope is quite a page-turner.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am from Manchester in the UK originally. My professional life before the book was really consumed by my career as a professional session musician playing for a series of high profile artists. I was a Sax player and later a composer/songwriter. Although I’ve always written I’ve only recently started pursuing it seriously with both my book and a series of screenplays.
What inspired you to write this book?
The events contained in the book were all the inspiration I needed. I knew it was going to be a tale worth the telling from the moment I started living the events that unfold throughout the narrative.
How did you choose the title?
For the longest time the book was going to be called ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ . I finally settled on ‘Beyond the Comfort Zone’ as I thought it conveyed my personal journey and philosophy, as well as possibly encouraging readers to live outside of their own comfort zones.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Strangely enough my main obstacle was writing the story I wanted to write. I had two offers from mainstream publishers who wanted me to write a more music focused book because of the high profile celebrities I had played for. The solution was to get together with a couple of people and form a publishing entity and write the book I wanted to. The end result is better for it in my opinion.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I had always written from a young age, but just short stories. I began writing again almost by accident. I always need be creative in some shape or form, whether it is playing and instrument or another avenue. Writing is just a manifestation of that and something I think I can do reasonably well. I remember I wrote a short story, longhand, and pasted it in the pages of a magazine. I then went around reading it to people, (concealing the pages of the mag) and asking them who they thought wrote it. When people were saying things like ‘Mario Puzo or Martin Cruz-Smith’ I knew I probably had some skill in story-telling. I still remember their faces, when they found out it was me!
Do you have any writing rituals?
Green tea. I like to have some degree of isolation and plenty of concentration inducing green tea.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Well, as the story is a memoir the characters are real. However I’ve changed certain names to protect the individuals involved.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
That I can finish something like this. It’s quite an undertaking to commit to writing 80,000+ words, and make the whole body of work readable.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I tend to read adventure based thrillers and memoirs, but I also like history. My two favourite fiction writers are Martin Cruz Smith and James Clavell. James Clavell ties history nicely into the framework of his novels, his research is remarkable.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m playing around with a couple of ideas at the moment but nothing I can share with you at this point.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Be disciplined. Write every day, set a word goal 1000, 2000 whatever it happens to be and stick to it. Don’t listen to those that say you cannot do it.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
People who like a good memoir. People who like thrillers. People who like adventure stories and those who like stories set in exotic locations. Hmm, that’s a pretty big audience!
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?