I was born in 1956 in Melbourne,Australia, where I still reside, working in the transport industry as possibly the world’s longest serving motorcycle courier. My interests include naval history, wandering cemeteries (necrotourism), ghosts and all things spooky. Influences in my writing are M. R. James and William Hope Hodgson.
My first published story “Troublesome Green” also marked the beginning of my work in the field of supernatural science fiction, a quirky sub-genre I’ve continued to explore alongside more traditional ghost stories such as “Isle of the Dancing Dead”, “Due West” and “Chinese Whispers.” “The Dark and what It Said” – which I tongue-in-cheek describe as so spooky it even scared me when I wrote it – won the 2008 Science Fiction Achievement Award (the ‘Ditmar’) for Best Short Story.
In 1991 the Ghost Story Society, then based in England, published the booklet 472 Cheyne Walk: Carnacki, the Untold Stories, co-authored with London-based writer Chico Kidd. This is a collection of four pastiches of the Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories of William Hope Hodgson. (1877 – 1918) – two byChico, one by myself and one in collaboration – inspired by cases referred to in passing by Hodgson in the originals but never elaborated upon. In 2002 the booklet was expanded with a further eight stories and published in hardback by Ash Tree Press inCanada. In 2011 it was reissued as an Ash Tree e-book.
In the early eighties I began a series of ghost-hunter stories featuring motorcycle riding Ernie Pine, part scardy-cat, part hero, psychic investigator by default, ghost-busting under protest. The character was created in a resentful huff on my part, a reaction to a poorly conceived story by R. Cheywynd-Hayes – usually a fine writer of supernatural fiction – where the bike rider character was presented as a stereotypical lout and the story itself ended in cliché. The series consists of eight stories, including the 22,000 word novella In Quinn’s Paddock, written in the first person and with a strain of cynical humour as often found in the hardboiled detective stories of the 1940s. There is also an as-yet unpublished Ernie Pine novel, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, based on the disappearance of Australia’s first submarine which sailed into a fog in 1914 and was never seen again. A non-fiction piece on this event I co-wrote with US author Chris Fuqua was published in Warship Annual (Conway, 1992) under the title “Australia’s First Naval Casualty Remains a Mystery.”
My homosexual heroine Cy De Gerch often finds ghosts somehow involved in her space opera exploits. Another character created by a reaction to wrong-headed writing, Cy came about after one too many encounters in fiction with representations of Lesbianism as a Very Bad Thing, the women either dying or changing sides for no apparent reason. So I created Cy, the product of a Martian genetics experiment, as a young woman happy in her sexuality. Not such a radical idea these days, but probably a bit more edgy when I first thought of it in the mid 70s. These stories chronicle Cy’s rise through the ranks of the Martian Star Corps, from lowly space cadet (“Legends of Mars” and “Now Cydonia”), to gunnery officer aboard the starship Utopia Plain (“The Battle of Leila the Dog”, “The Road to Utopia Plain” and “The View from Stickney Crater”), to captain of her own vessel (“Thirty Minutes for New Hell”). And like Ernie Pine reluctantly hunting ghosts, Cy is also a creature of contradiction, embracing her gung-ho mind set while resenting her creation as a piece of biological ordnance. Likewise she also has an as-yet unpublished novel, Presumed Dead.
I was owned by whippets for twenty-five years, those small greyhound-related dogs sometimes (and accurately) described as the world’s fastest couch potatoes. They would often get mistaken for greyhound pups as whippets were then an uncommon breed. These days they’re much more popular, with whippets on leashes a more common sight on suburban streets than back in the day when I was continually being asked, “Is that a baby greyhound?” Was I a trend-setter or just ahead of canine fashion?