James-Long

Photography: Morag MacDonald

Biography

Where to start? I was born in Sussex in October 1949. My father, Bill, was the local police constable in the seaside village of Selsey - a brave man who had fought a hard war as a pilot, flying Seafires from aircraft carrier decks at the invasions of Italy and the South of France. My mother, a WAAF officer met him when the wild survivors of his battered squadron flew into her somewhat prim and prissy RAF airfield in Scotland to regroup. They beat up the airfield on the way in and she met him when the station commander hauled him in for a dressing-down. My sister and I got used to frequent moves around Sussex at the demands of the police force. When I turned 13, his promotion took us to North Yorkshire where I soon came to love the wildness of the North York moors and the endearing and intricate landscape of the Dales. One amazing teacher, Donald Bancroft at Lancing College showed me how to love writing and after a brief misguided year at Loughborough University, discovering I did not want to be an engineer, I transferred to Oxford by a bizarre and lucky process which took me to a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Journalism followed, first on a tiny City of London newspaper then, after a short break which was my first attempt to write a novel, with BBC Radio News, setting up a specialist unit covering the financial world. After a spell as Economics Correspondent, I moved to BBC TV to do the same job, ironic really as I have never been convinced that economics is anything more than a partially understood aggregate of human emotional reactions. It is certainly not a science. The politics and diplomacy of it kept me going plus a few enthralling fraud investigations. I left the BBC in 1988 and went off to Zurich to help set up a somewhat over-ambitious international cable and satellite TV station. It collapsed in 1990 and when I came back to England, I decided it was time to do what I had always wanted and began to write full-time. I have three children all of whom tend towards the creative end of the spectrum in writing, acting, singing and design forms. These days, I live in Bristol.