Iíve been writing for most of my life. This possibly bad habit started when I canít have been more than seven, with a seriously plagiarised detective story that I wrote out in indelible pencil to give it permanence and that my granny stitched into a book of sorts. My first paperback. Then it just went on. And, like most authors, I read compulsively. I read the toothpaste tube and the cereal pack. Books, too.
I didnít leap from grannyís kitchen to published author in a single bound, of course. It took quite a long time during which I did many different jobs. I was a police cadet in Birmingham, a jet pilot in the RAF, and an actor, all before I published my first book in 1971. It was about the birth of the modern environmental movement, and called The Eco-Activists. Iíve been a full-time author since 1973.
I donít write fiction. As you can see from all the titles, I write what they call popular science. Thatís also a kind of storytelling, though. All books tell stories. Without a narrative thread theyíd be very difficult to read. Well not quite all books, but Iíll come to that. So I share my delight in the world around me as I explore ideas, the way things work, and try to tease out answers to my own questions. Iím learning all the time.
Many of my books are aimed mainly at young readers and some of them turn up in school libraries, especially in the United States. I hope theyíre entertaining and fun to read as well as being informative. Perhaps theyíll tell you things you didnít know and, who knows, perhaps now and then theyíll correct a few misconceptions.
Weíve always had cats in our family and I had great fun in the early eighties working with Jane Burton, the natural history photographer, on a book recording the first year in the lives of a family of nine kittens. The book was called Nine Lives (Your Catís First Year in the US) and we followed it with two sequels, A Dogís Life and A Ponyís Tale. All three were translated into several languages. Nine Lives wasnít my first cat book, though. A few years earlier I collaborated with Peter Crawford of the BBC Natural History Unit, on The Curious Cat, about the lives of half-wild farm cats.
For a number of years much of my work was published by Facts on File, an educational publisher in New York. They were distributed in North America, but few found their way to Britain. You can buy them, of course, no matter where you live. Clicking on them will take you to a retailer. That association with Facts On File ended in 2012, for the time being at least, when they ceased publishing paper books and turned entirely to electronic publishing. My Facts On File titles are available online or as ebooks, but so far Iíve not written any books that have been published only electronically. Thatís just the way itís worked out. Iíve absolutely no objection to writing for electronic publication.