A young writer from the UK with big ideas, and an even bigger passion for words. A multigenre author of both novels and short fiction, Gary has a flare for the suspenseful, the frightening, and the unknown.
My writing journey begun about as far back as I can remember. I have distinct memories of near-obsession with Jurassic Park 1 & 2, and getting to work on writing the third. Jurassic Park 3: Dino-Crisis! I illustrated covers, wrote a shaky collection of words (probably incomprehensible), and bound them together in a mess of coloured scribbles and sketches. My first book. I think mum even let me use the stapler!
From there, my likes evolved beyond the Jurassic, and into the action-packed world of ass-kicking martial arts. Bruce Lee was a favourite, and it wasn’t long before I lost my heart to Dragonball Z. Like clockwork, in almost religious devotion, you could bet your last buck that my ass would be planted on our green, floral sofa at 5:00pm each day, with a cup of tea in one hand and a Rocky bar in the other. Any time spent away from DBZ on the screen, was spent sketching and drawing the characters from the series, alongside original characters in the same style. During this period, I wrote and illustrated a multitude of typical-seven-year-old comic strips and drawing tutorials.
I remember school to an extent. A lot of those memories centralise around lunchtimes and break times, mischief with friends, and playground fights. For the most part, school memories don’t involve much learning at all- in an academic sense, anyway. What I do remember, however, is loving any creative writing we ever got to do in English class. My teacher at that time was Mr Batey -imagine the jokes!- and he’d place objects in front of us, setting us a ten minute deadline to describe them in as vivid detail as possible. We’d get bonus points for metaphors, similes, alliteration, and all the fluffy bits. Shells. Flowers. Little trinkets and ornaments that he probably bought in from home, likely to the dismay of his wife. I loved this exercise, and as an extension to that, it was always my adverb littered, overly verbose passage that got read out at the end of class.
School and I had a funny relationship, and that only intensified when I hit secondary. The first day of school, everybody turns up exactly how they’re meant to. Tie knot straight, tight, and pulled up all the way to your buttoned-to-the-neck shirt, which was of course tucked all the way in. Shoes shined, blazer neatly buttoned over the top. That day is judgement free. But rules are learned, and decisions must be made, because how you turn up the second day, will define the rest of your five year stay in that prison. I decided to button down, wear my tie knot down between my nipples, untuck the shirt, and leave my blazer at home. Your typical rebellious type, from that day, until my last day. And that, dear reader, is both a promise, and a dare to myself.
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From that point there isn’t much to tell. Well, there’s quite a lot to tell, too much perhaps, but nothing that paints me in the best light. Our quarterly reviews graded us in each subject for understanding of topic (from A to E) and for effort shown in class (from 1 to 4). The vast majority of those reviews came in at A4, which perplexed my mum on parents day.
“It’s hard to understand what you mean by this though. How can you in one breath put his knowledge as an A, and then say he puts no effort in?” After the kind of evasive, beat-around-the-bush answers only a teacher can truly perfect, we concluded that I wasn’t challenged enough at school. Well that’s some revelation, ain’t it, but it’s not about to change anytime soon.
Honestly, the years bridging the gap between twelve and sixteen are filled with misbehaviour, skiving school, and getting myself in dangerous situations for fun. My parents could not control me, because when they tried, I’d simply run away and disappear for a few days. Among my favourite extra-curricular activities were berating the police and running away, winding up any bystanders that’d bite so we could, you guessed it, run away. We ran across the rooftops of buildings and jumped the gaps between them, ran through gardens knocking on doors as we went. Come to think of it, there was a lot of running.
Maybe that’s a metaphor for all of us in that ragtag bunch of tracksuit wearing, baseball cap sporting yobs. All that time spent finding people to run away from, when all that time we were running away from ourselves, each for our own unique reasons.
Now that’s deep.
I saw out my last year of secondary half hour away from home, staying with my no-nonsense uncle, where a few viewpoints and behaviours did actually change. If you wanted to bunk off school there, you couldn’t do much but hang out in a field.
The school dynamics themselves were different too. There weren’t individual groups like there were in my hometown, either. everyone fit into the same brackets and dressed the way you’d expect them to—chavs with their collars up, emos in their dark jeans, sporty kids in their Nike Airs—but they blended beyond those separations and cross-mingled. It was a game-changer for me. I acquired a wide variety of friends and found myself fitting in with most people in that school. I liked to smoke and drink beers with the lads while the sun set across the baron fields, I liked rock music and drum & bass and rap and RnB. I truly, for the first time, found myself. I ditched all conformity to set groups, and forged myself, my friend group, and my interests, in a unique and unexpected way.
In the end, I did ‘okay’ in school. I did okay enough to get into a sixth-form back in my home town without having to mess around with re-sits and all that rubbish. Couple of B’s and A’s, a multitude of C’s. Alas, formal education just wasn’t for me. I stayed long enough to meet the girl I’d spend my life with, and we both left to go into full time work.
TO BE CONTINUED