Life Writing

My exercise in life writing involves an original take on memoir and family history. Three narratives are woven into one story: my Cornish ancestors and what happened when they moved to London; my father’s death and its effect upon me; and a quest for the truth behind the records and rumours these events left behind. The idea throughout is to consider the influence of past lives on someone’s character and development and to explore the links between place and personality. In the process I debate with myself the means best suited to achieving these aims when information regarding them is missing or fragmentary.

This project started out as a single book but its subjects had more to say about themselves than I expected. As a result The Dancer and the Drum is the first volume of two, the second being provisionally entitled The Man with Eight Names. More information is provided about them through the links on the right. This is not the past viewed through a soft focus lens, history as bread commercial. It is opinionated and sometimes political. It dislikes as often as it admires. It questions its own integrity and working methods. In parallel with the main narrative, the two books also explore the breakdown I suffered after my father died and how I responded to that crisis. This has resonances with the older story as well as offering a counterpoint to its rhythms and moods. In addition it contributes much of the books’ humour. Who can look back at their own life without smiling at its folly?

The Dancer is currently doing the rounds of agents’ in-trays, a test of endurance and self-belief that can be followed here and through my blog. Its sequel is more than half-written with the end of the year in mind for completion, although deadlines have a habit of receding. Commercially produced or self-published, I am determined that both will have their day.