The early years

For as long as I can remember, daydreaming and thinking up imaginary conversations and scenarios have been among my favourite occupations.

I was born in Southampton in 1965 and grew up in Romsey, a small market town in southern England.

Apparently I wrote my first ‘novel’ while still at primary school – unfortunately I don’t have a copy so no idea if my writing has improved.

I was a voracious and precocious reader as a child – getting through things like Thomas Hardy, Tolkien and Victor Hugo before I was into my teens.

I also read huge amounts of science fiction and adventure classics – escapism was always a big draw. (The fact we didn’t have a television probably had a lot to do with my book consumption.)

During my teens I wrote some stories but also a lot of poetry (though I never liked reading the stuff) and was thrilled when I got a commendation in a WH Smith competition for young writers.

I never really concentrated on any particular subject while at school – to be quite honest I never really focused much on school.

Moving on

Eventually (certainly seemed a very long time to me), I drifted out of the far end of the education system with a 2.1 in Politics & Sociology: moderately interesting but not particularly useful when it came to looking for a job.

After a year or so of trying various careers like fruit-picking, bar work and landscape gardening, I eventually got a job as a trainee journalist on an old-fashioned weekly paper in my home town.

Over the following years I worked on newspapers in Cumbria and Devon – then met Carolyn, my wife-to-be, and set off on a rather belated gap year backpacking around New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia and Nepal & India.

On our return, I fancied a change from journalism and drifted into the PR/communications field – doing everything from PR for a theatre to the communications strategy for a European funding programme. (Believe me, the theatre was much more fun.)

Never give up

In the meantime I kept writing, concentrating on novels with the odd short story when the mood took me.

The first novel I completed was a sci-fi drama about man’s first contact with an alien race. I started that book while a student and it took me six years to finish. Probably because I spent so long rewriting every chapter rather than getting on and finishing the thing.

The next novel only took a couple of years. This time it was a book inspired by a magazine article about how so many child film stars ended their years in poverty and obscurity.

More books followed and writing did get faster – and easier. Like so many authors, though, what never got easier were the rejection letters. I’d send samples to agents and publishers and wait and wait and wait (often for months) before getting a reply.

There were some positive comments but I also got a large collection of standardised letters that leave you wondering if anyone ever actually read your work.

The big break

Eventually, I got my first break in 2005 when The Tale Of Findo Gask won the national prize in a new contest for first-time writers called Undiscoved Authors. One of the best things about this was that the judging panel wasn’t just made up of people from the company involved but included literary agents and others from the publishing world.

The prize money – £10,000 – was wonderful and I was equally thrilled to see printed copies of my first published novel. The sad side is that the company behind Undiscovered Authors seemed to get into all kinds of problems and subsequently folded.

The tragedy for me was that although my novel was ‘officially’ published, nothing was ever done to promote it and sales were negligible.

The experience did rather put me off for a while but then, eventually, the writing bug kicked in and the next couple of novels emerged. Unfortunately though, I was back to square one in terms of having no agent, no publishing company – and no track record of sales to boast about!

Change of direction

As writing wasn’t going to keep me fed, I had to keep on with work… although it was never one of my favourite occupations.

Looking for inspiration – somewhere in the Pyrenees 2004

After a second gap year – this time riding a tandem bicycle around France, Spain and Portugal – I ended up taking on a job managing the publicity and fundraising for the disaster relief charity ShelterBox.

A fascinating and very rewarding job but ultimately I found myself still spending too much time sitting in front of a computer screen.

In 2008, Carolyn and I decided to retrain to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). We’ve just completed our third year of teaching English in Portugal – we took a year off between July 2010 and 2011.

That ‘gap year’ had a bit more of a purpose. We embarked on a 10,000-mile tandem ride across North America, New Zealand and parts of Australia and Europe to promote ShelterBox.

It was an amazing journey. In the end we rode nearly 11,000 miles and raised getting on for £50,000 for the charity. One day, we might write a book about the experience – the blog we created for the journey is at http://tandem10.wordpress.com

The writing got shelved while we were riding but since we returned to ‘normal’ life in autumn 2011, I’ve been publishing some of my older novels on Kindle and starting work on the next one.

The job in Portugal finished this summer – we’re now back in the UK… working out which direction to go next.

14 responses to “About”

  1. Jennings says :

    What an interesting life! You’ve sure done some great things. Good luck planning what comes next. My husband and I have called that TNT since 2008 (long story!) – the next thing. We are finally starting to live our TNT, and loving it.

    I nominated your blog for the Liebster Blog Award. you can find out more about it here: http://jenningswright.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/an-award-can-i-get-a-new-dress/

  2. Huw Thomas says :

    Hi Jennings. Thanks for the nomination. Glad you found my life interesting – it’s had the odd dull moment but I do try and avoid getting in a rut. I know it’s a cliche but I do believe in the concept that life is what you make it. I’ve never liked the idea of looking too far ahead – need to enjoy the now.

  3. sethsnap says :

    You should come bike the trails around here.

  4. eideard says :

    Lots of shared experiences, particularly as a lad. Your own directions are interesting and positive – I can only comment it’s worth keeping at it for many more decades. I’m halfway through the 7th.

  5. PostModern Muslima says :

    Thank you so much for reading my blog! How do I contact you?

  6. Harold Green says :

    Hi Huw, thank you for discovering my blog http://www.throughharoldslens.com. You gave me the opportunity to discover, explore and Follow your blog. Hope we both enjoy our journeys. Portugal is on our bucket list. Best, Harold, and my trusty sidekick, Mr. SLR Nikon.

    • Huw Thomas says :

      Hi Harold. Enjoyed your story. I’d really recommend Portugal. Take Mr SLR Nikon there – lots of people, landscapes and cuture (of various sorts) to keep him busy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: