I failed English at school primarily because my handwriting was so bad; that and I fancied Mrs large the teacher. She was, ironically, only little. But my mind was anywhere but in a book. Leaving aged 16 I found myself unemployed and started reading books I found in my sister's bedroom, Mr Arkadin by Orson Welles being amongst the first. Then I read One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich and it remains one of my favourite novels to this day. I still have the same copy, and it still has the Hookergate Comprehensive stamp in the front... It wasn't long before I started writing, really badly as my grammar was awful, but Mrs Large must have made some impression (beyond the above) as I soon got my spelling and puncuation sorted and my sentences have been shrinking ever since. Then I discovered Thomas Pynchon. If you're good enough you can get away with anything, I thought, immersed in Gravity's Rainbow. Nearly 30 years later I think I may even be getting somewhere near.My latest novels The Orange Propeller and Ocellus are available in paperback from online booksellers.