Monday, 24 December 2012

Very Inspired Blogger Award

Thanks to Tracey Fells (The Literary Pig: for passing on the Very Inspiring Blogger Award to me. I found her 7 random facts that inspired her to write, quite intriguing! Actually, it’s quite a good time of year to reflect back on what our motives were that first encouraged us to write. Here are 7 random facts that inspire me to pick up a pen.

1. At the age of 14, I wrote to three famous writers asking for their advice. Playwright Alan Bleasdale told me to become a brain surgeon instead. It would be far quicker. He was right: it took me another 18 years before my first book was published, whereas, I believe, learning to undertake brain surgery takes about seven years … plus a little practise. (I’ve always assumed that to do brain surgery, one must have a brain int he first place.)

2. I was an avid reader of books from an early age, spending most of Saturday morning in the library choosing eight books, and then the rest of the weekend reading them. It’s always good to vary your reading matter. I’m currently reading The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Not my usual reading matter, but I am enjoying it. It was reading other writers’ work that inspired me to want to write my own books.

3. After A levels, I opted to go to work, rather than University. (Creative Writing degrees weren’t as numerous back then, and if I had gone I would probably have studied my strongest subject at O and A level - economics. Eeeuurrgghh! Economics! How boring!) So, I joined Barclays Bank. (How boring, too!) I soon realised that banking wasn’t enjoyable either, which encouraged me to write in my spare time. Looking back, it also demonstrated that nothing in a writer’s life is wasted. Where do you think I drew inspiration for The Bluffer’s Guide to Banking, that was published twenty years after I’d left the bank? (Yes, I really am that old.)

4. I won a writing competition in 1998. Despite being drawn towards writing non-fiction, I had a go at writing a short story, and in April 1998, came first in the David Thomas Charitable Trust Writing Awards run by Writers’ News magazine, in their foggy morning competition. There’s nothing like winning a competition to spur you on! You can read it here: 

5. You never know where this writing world will take you. After my first book was published Hodder & Stoughton invited me to London for the classic ‘author lunch’, which was truly amazing. (It was where they commissioned the second book, too.) Regular readers will remember that earlier this year I was a magazine model for Country Walking magazine. It was only by sitting down and writing something in the first place that these experiences were possible. This encourages me to write more.

6. The writer David Croft (Dad’s Army, Allo Allo, Hi De Hi) once said in a letter to me that an episode of Allo Allo took a couple of days to write and then months to get write. It’s a vital lesson we all have to learn an accept: just write any old rubbish - you can turn rubbish into a thing of beauty later. That’s why writing is a craft. So if you have an idea, write it down. Only then can you create something beautiful from it. 

7. The most unusual place I’ve been commissioned to do some work is in the street. (I really shouldn’t offer my services on street corners!) I was walking along the High Street and a passerby stopped me and said, “You’re that writer, aren’t you?” which is awkward because you never know which writer they’re referring to. But, she commissioned me to write a short story for some one’s birthday. And that’s what I love about this writing lark. You never know where the next job is coming from! 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you’re looking for a book to get your writing off to a good start in 2013, then may I be so bold as to suggest my very own The Positively Productive Writer. ( If you want to know even more, then check out Radio Warrington on Thursday 27th December between 6pm and 8pm, when the book will be reviewed. (For those not in the area, listen live via the Internet at

I’m passing this onto the following bloggers: Alex Gazzola (, Lynne Hackles ( and Julie Phillips (

Good luck. 


  1. Awh, Simon, thank you! You never told me and I've only just found this! You're always on street corners - you love it really ;0)

    Julie xx

  2. Thanks for this, Simon. Interesting post. I haunted libraries and, somewhere, have a list of the books I read complete with illustrations in wax crayon. It was writtten as a school diary.

  3. Loved that you wrote to famous writers and that they wrote back! How inspiring.