Born in the 1957 the year the Space Race started when the USSR launched its first satellite and growing up with astronauts and cosmonauts on the TV meant Yuri Gagarin and Gordon Cooper were familiar names to me as a child but I only really started to take notice as the Apollo programme ramped up and remember very well the tragedy of Apollo 1 (as it is now called) then poor Vladimir Komarov in Soyuz 1 and Yuri’s plane crash. Getting up very early one morning I was just in time to see a grainy Neil Armstrong make one small step for mankind on black and white British television, the same television showed me Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet then Doctor Who and my personal favourite UFO with the Moonbase girls in their shiny costumes (very interesting to a growing boy!) and the joy of seeing Star Trek on our first colour set, their uniforms in their varied hues like a rainbow palette.
My earliest otherworldly memory is a picture book about mice building a rocket and travelling to the moon for green cheese! I started reading Science Fiction at a young age by way of Kemlo, Tom Swift Jr and the wonderful TV21 with its pseudo newspaper format and the later and lesser Countdown comic. The first “big” read was The Fall of the Towers by Samuel R Delaney, it was my dad’s book and quite a weighty tome but he let me read many others after that. At school my English teacher set us reading John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids and the great-grandad of alien invasion stories HG Wells The War of the Worlds.
I was hooked, working my way through the Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Lensman series by EE Smith, anything by Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Edmund Cooper, John Wyndham, Jack Vance and Ray Bradbury et al. I read everything of worth and much not worthy, I wanted to write and I wanted to write what I loved most, Science Fiction! My poor English teacher had several large essays thrust upon him about a secret organisation battling aliens (sorry UFO), robots that looked like humans and a story about a policeman on an island on a colonised planet with his girlfriend playing the damsel in distress (I might re-use that one). He patiently read them then gave me criticism, some good!
I made plots and plans drew characters and vehicles but somehow never wrote much by way of story, then the family moved from Grimsby to Leicester and I started an apprenticeship enjoyed a social life eventually meeting a wonderful beautiful girl (who would put up with me!). We married had children and I later found myself sharing books with my eldest son in an echo from the past, I had tinkered with writing but still no book emerged, then a year or so ago…
Six months from sixty and the urge to write returned as an old plot from my teenage years re-emerged, the hero remained the same but a minor almost background character pushed her way to the front becoming the heroine and the original ending is now the beginning. McGuffins and contrivances have moved with the times and with the first book written and the sequel done there is a third ready for rework with the bones of the fourth and final in existence.
It has been a long journey (and my wife is still putting up with me!).