In 2015 Stephen won a Scottish Book Trust New Writing Award and is working on a collection of poems for publication, and is also working on a small project called The Poet’s Calendar.
He was delighted to be asked to provide a support act for Elvis McGonagall at Strathpeffer Pavilion in May 2015, even though he was extremely nervous at performing. Having survived the night, he now thinks he might develop his own public readings career!
Stephen was born and brought up in Darlington, in the north-east of England . He was educated at Darlington Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth I and confesses to being a bit of a yob until he found Literature with incomparable teachers. He studied English at Durham University, with further degrees from Leeds and London; and is a qualified teacher for language & linguistics. Enlightened school teachers and university lecturers encouraged him to write, to design sets, to direct radio plays, study art and architecture, graphics and costume design.
But his wanderlust was sown through reading the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming and the subsequent movies. He has travelled very widely, and lived and worked in a number of vastly different countries including Sweden, China, Vietnam and several of the states and former states of the former Soviet bloc.
Stephen moved to Ullapool in 2010 and has been a tutor here for the Macphail Centre in Ullapool for several very successful writing workshops and classes. He has also been a volunteer with the Ullapool Book Festival.
Stephen’s Influences in his own words:-
Place: Difficult to choose just one favourite in these categories but I suppose that, after London , Sweden has to be the place where I’d always rather be.
Author: In poetry it is Philip Larkin – I enjoy the echoes of Larkin which come to me in my own work. In prose fiction there are just too many: Boyd, Greene, Theroux, Chandler , Keillor – a lot of Americans there, and literary thriller writers. But I also love Rose Tremain, Vesna Goldsworthy and, at her best, Jeanette Winterson.
In non-ficiton, again too many to limit it to one: Robert MacFarlane, Roger Deakin, Linda Cracknell, and some of our best broadsheet columnists.
Artist: May Fedden, Eric Ravilious, Marc Chagall
Music track: Hardest of the lot to limit because I have an enormously catholic taste in music from The Beatles, The Kinks and The Who to early English music, classical Spanish guitar, Eric Clapton, Peter Warlock, Balkan and Jewish traditional music and even some Messiaen.
Weirdest or best thing ever happened to you
Weirdest: Some things are best kept secret
Best: Meeting the woman who was to become my wife, and make it possible for me to become a father. (His daughter, in her early twenties, works for Random House Publishing)