I was born, under a wandrin` star……
…..well, Newtownards, Co.Down, Northern Ireland, to be exact, in June 1962.
…..but I quickly escaped to nearby Bangor, where I grew up. I attended Ballyholme Primary School. Although `The Troubles` started when I was seven, these hardly affected my home town at all – three bombs in about thirty years, which isn`t a bad record, unless you live in Hull, or somewhere, where it would be considered quite catastrophic. The highlight of every year was The Bonfire, on July 11, which was staged to commemorate the eve of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. We had no idea that this was exactly the kind of thing which contributed to `The Troubles` in the first place, and we routinely wore Ulster Volunteer Force badges and stopped cars and asked to search them for weapons because it seemed like good fun. How innocent we were.
Then it was on to Bangor Grammar School where I managed to shine in no subjects at all, but read a lot of Marvel Comics and Science Fiction.
Seeing as how I loved reading, and was always writing science fiction stories, my Dad arranged for me to go and meet the editor of the local newspaper, the Co.Down Spectator. Annie Roycroft then sat me down and told me to write 300 words on why I wanted to be a reporter.
I didn`t. But in an early sign of things to come, I quickly made something up.
It must have been reasonably believable, because I came away with a job offer, aged 15. Bearing in mind that jobs were hard to come by in those days, I excitedly told my Grammar School headmaster, who laughed, and told me to stay in school for another three years, then go to university, and then maybe I should think about a career.
So, I told him where to go, (or would have if I`d had any balls at all) but still decided not to return to school, but instead enrolled in the local technical college to learn shorthand and typing. One year later I turned up for work just after my seventeenth birthday – Colin Bateman, Cub Reporter.
It may seem quite mundane now, but looking back, it was a fantastic experience – thrown in at the deep end, and just expected to write lots, and lots, and lots. And all of those experiences have fed back into everything I do today – a perfect training for a writer.
Ten years on, and `Divorcing Jack` was written in my spare time, more as a hobby than out of any great hope. Initially rejected everywhere, it was only when my wife Andrea suggested just sending it to the biggest publisher in the world I could think of, that it was eventually discovered in the HarperCollins slush pile – the first time in years they`d discovered a book that way.
`Divorcing Jack` was published in 1995, and since then there have been fourteen more novels. Other doors opened along the way – I was lucky enough to be asked to write the screenplays for both `Divorcing Jack` and `Cycle of Violence`, my second novel. The original screenplay `Wild About Harry` was also commissioned and then filmed, being released in 2000.
Television writing has also mushroomed – although a lot more scripts are written than ever make their way to screen. `Murphy`s Law` was written specifically for James Nesbitt, a local actor who became a big TV star through `Cold Feet`. The ninety minute pilot for `Murphy`s Law` on BBC 1 was seen by more than seven million people, and led to three TV series, on which I was the chief writer.
There now, that`s me finished blowing my own trumpet, bugle and French horn.