I liked writing essays, short stories and poems from an early age. The subject I enjoyed most at school and did best in was English.
In 1970 and living in Belfast at a time when the bonfire of political and sectarian conflict was well on fire, I remember my very helpful and friendly primary school teacher announcing to P5 one day that ‘Halloween has been cancelled by the authorities due to the risk of children being shot throwing fireworks’. Well, from the grim, quickly turning to angry expressions on the faces of twenty rough-kneed young boys, our teacher saw not the problem but the opportunity. He soon defused the riot about to explode in our classroom by setting his boys a creative writing exercise: to write about how we felt over Halloween being cancelled. This is what I wrote:
Halloween is on its way
There shall be no fun that day
No fireworks will light the sky
No rockets will shoot so high
But I don’t care -
l’ll have plenty of apple pie
I won the P5 Creative Writing Competition that day, my prize being an apple pie from Andy’s Corner Shop. It was a very nice apple pie but not as tasty as ma’s; and I had plenty of her tangy and sweet apple pie with a perfectly baked golden crust that Halloween.
With such positive encouragement that day in school (and dare I say it, formal affirmation from my teacher that I was a ‘writer with promise’) there was no holding me back – or so I thought then.
With my life’s many barricades, diversions, shouted warnings and all-clears, I was 40-something before I seriously pursued my - till then - somewhat silent love for storytelling and writing. Here is a snapshot of what I went on to do by writing the manuscript or script, directing, co-editing, managing and/or facilitating:
2018-21 Grace Land, film – leanúna productions
2018-21 Church Without Religion, Money, and God As You Know Him, play
2019 Tales From The Silver Bucket, short story – Churches Together/The Stoners’ Press
2016 Poet Tree, poem – Amazon/The Stoners’ Press
2009-15 I Belong Here, play
2011 Wise In The Head, play
2007 Remember To Let Go, poem – WordFlight/The Stoners’ Press
2004 The Walk, short story - Fingerpost
2001 A Man Of No Property, short story - The Harp
I commenced a Masters degree (MA) in the Written & Verbal Arts: Creativity in Practice with the University of Ulster in 2003, and graduated in 2007.
In the same year, I set-up The Stoners’ Press, a publishing venture mainly for adult and young writers.
Aside from facilitating creative writing workshops where opportunity arises, I am currently directing my first feature-length film, GRACE LAND, shot mainly in County Donegal, Ireland. Filming began in September 2018 and I hope to see my film released for the big screen in 2021.
Please continue to visit my website for further updates on the film’s progress, and for news about workshops and other projects that I intend to offer during 2020 and 2021.
And between 2014-16, I designed, managed and facilitated a range of community projects in the midlands of England addressing anti-social behaviour, promoting improved dietary behaviour and increased physical activity, and social inclusion for marginalised groups. My projects included:
Citizen Can - Families grow & eat their own foods
Projecteers 21 – Young People Prevent Crime By Other Young People
Human Nature Arts – Adults, Young People and Children Use the Creative Arts to Promote Their Health and Wellbeing
People Make Cities Not Buildings – Young People Promote Human Rights and Fairness For Themselves and Other Marginalised Young People