I was born a triplet in Leicester General Hospital in August 1955. I am older than my sister Jane by three minutes and sister Wendy by five minutes. This seemed important when we were growing up, less so now. My father Alan was an accountant with a strong work ethic who I don't think dreamt a lot. My mother was a staff nurse but also very creative and I think she dreamed for all of us. Books and crosswords were an important part of our upbringing with Dad good at general knowledge and cryptic clues and Mum the better speller. She always said it was the benefit of her superior Scottish education. My older brother Clive went on to become a librarian and, although Mum encouraged me to write, I took Dad's advice and got a proper job.
In fact, over my working career I took 39 proper jobs ranging from farm labourer, through bookshop driver to running my own estate agency business. Perhaps these 39 jobs can be another book in the making. Looking back, it is interesting that I never regretted leaving any of these jobs. Sometimes, I felt chastened by the manner of leaving but, without exception, I walked out the door happier knowing I had left behind what wasn't working to free myself to try something that might. Dad pulled his hair out over this flitting about considering me feckless but Mum thought it was only the restless spirit of a creative and I preferred that explanation.
I went to upper school in Desford, Leicestershire but through lack of any application failed my A levels. Working in a concrete factory while my friends lived it up at university opened even my eyes and I passed three A levels at night school over the next three years. In 1978, I went to the Royal Agricultural College to study rural estate management. I went back to studying at De Montfort University in 1999 and qualified as a journalist.
After my first wife Cyndy died in 1994, I attempted my first book; The Hopeless Hillwaker, but this was never finished and still lies in a box somewhere in my study. I also wrote some poetry at this time, one of which I still like. It wasn't until I sold my property business in 2012 that I really sat down to take my Mum's original advice. I wrote 100,000 words of memoir entitled The Woods Gang. After editing this down to 60,000 words, I approached various agents and publishers but with no success. This manuscript is now in the same box as The Hopeless Hillwalker. However, these attempts were not a waste of time as all the while I was developing a style and realising how to juggle words and phrases to see what worked and what didn't. I was also learning to edit, ferociously.
The idea of writing a self-help, life transformation book really came out of the blue. While re-reading many books of this type, it struck me that the messages were instinctive but could be a lot clearer. The messages need not be lost in 500-odd pages but could be explained in simple, everyday phrases that people already knew. That the core ideas of mindfulness and true purpose and changing your life, if you really wanted to, could be straightforward and explained in one cogent volume. I hope Call of the Soul succeeds in that.