The formal bit: Ian had a productive and well-respected career as a child psychologist. He wrote two books about how to use assessments to measure progress in child psychology, for which the BPS awarded a fellowship. He also worked as the academic tutor and coordinated the child input for the Newcastle University doctoral clinical psychology training course. He was elected to represent his professional group at a national level and invited to join FOCUS, the national group set up by the Department of Health to encourage good practice in child mental health. But most important, he spent twenty years helping children and their families deal with trauma, illness and other dilemmas. Hearing the secret lives of others, listening to their internal worlds, thoughts and feelings, and seeing how these impact upon a person’s life and external world teaches you a lot about life. And learning how to put the heart of the matter into words is pretty useful for a writer, too.
The informal bit: A man of few words. Except when he writes books. (As the bishop said to the actress, I can’t get out of the habit.) Ian grew up in the northeast, acquiring a love of history and reading from two sources. First he dug up a roman coin in his garden, at an age when copper coins still seemed like treasure. Then he discovered that the fables, myths and history section in his Collins encyclopedia was in fact far more entertaining than his comics. He acquired a love of football when the kids who picked on him started to respect his ability to kick the ball (and them) very hard. Writing stories and poetry came next, the latter probably resulting from frustrated energy caused by attending a boys only grammar school (eat your heart out, Sigmund). A moderate cartoonist, his dreams of a career in the art world ended when his teachers confiscated his masterpiece, a book of libelous poems and grotesque images of all the teaching staff. It was never returned. He turned to debating, using dry humour as his primary method of persuasion. His most memorable verbal contest took place in front of a large audience, in which he proposed the motion ‘This house is apathetic’ and urged the audience not to bother to vote. He lost by three votes to two.
Then he studied Psychology at Nottingham while playing in various football teams, worked for a bit, studied some more at Edinburgh (where his football career was seemingly ended by a large fat goalkeeper, who rearranged his knee) and qualified as a clinical psychologist. Returning to the northeast, he had two wonderful children and somehow got a doctorate at Leeds while working in the NHS in Darlington. He miraculously had a brief second football career before the ankle on the other leg rearranged itself. He did lots more child psychology work in places like Middlesbrough, Peterlee, and Durham, plus a stint at Newcastle University, before deciding to make the leap and become a proper scribbler (hugely rewarding to his psyche though financially insane).
He is married to Sheila; between them, they have five children and a wonderful life. He has published one novel – Crossing the Water – with others in preparation.