A first career in the Merchant Navy saw Macey’s early working life devoted to travelling the globe. In the process, it gave him an introduction to the mad mix of beauty, kindness, cruelty and inequality that is the human experience everywhere. Between every frantic coastal encounter was a trip across the ocean, which brought the contrast of tranquil moments and offered time for reading, writing and reflection.

Those roving days came to a close, however, with Macey serving as a ship’s officer in the North Sea oil industry.

Several years working in business made it apparent that Macey’s greatest commercial skill was the ability to convert tenners into fivers, effortlessly and unerringly – a skill that ensured Macey had the unwelcome experience of encountering those darker aspects of life that lie beneath the veneer of our developed world and brought fleeting glimpses into the shadows where bad things lurk.

Eventually, life’s turbulence, domestic tragedy and impending poverty demanded a change of course. As a result, more recent years have been spent in the academic world lecturing and producing predominantly corporate media resources, the resultant stability allowing the time and opportunity to return to the written word.

In the current year, Macey has surrendered his lecturing role entirely, stepping away from academia to focus exclusively on his writing.

Q & As

When you’re not writing how do you spend your time?

Well, once you expand ‘writing’ to include research, planning, drafting and rewriting, I think it’s safe to say it takes up a fair chunk of the week.

When I’m not working, I devote a fair bit of time to reading; books of course, novels mainly, but I have a real interest in current affairs and include daily newspapers and a range of topical magazines too. These days, I find I keep asking why the politicians are doing what they’re doing. So much of what they say and do seems to be focused on provoking or blocking their political opponents rather than fixing the things that we ordinary people are concerned about – I’d better drop this one now, it’s a bit of a hobbyhorse!

I have a pair of season tickets to watch my local football team – have supported them forever. I’m using the continuing experience to develop what I conceive as a saga built around family life and troubles within a community dominated by its sports stadium. It’s a long-term project with a good deal more research and observation to be done before I produce a finished story.

Meanwhile, just like every other supporter, I live in hope that we might one day be champions. We do have a great team, but the fates always seem to intervene to ensure we never quite get there. In fact, while we have had some high points across the years, overall I am sure supporting my team has been the cause of a good deal more pain than pleasure – and coping with that’s probably what being a fan is really all about.

How frequently do you travel abroad?

Other than holidays, in the recent past I have travelled less than I once did. As a child, I travelled a lot with the family – moving home every couple of years seemed to be pretty much the norm. Thereafter, my first career was in the merchant navy. That involved a good deal of travel and I certainly visited lots of interesting places. The thing about sea travel is that visiting somewhere by cargo ship generally delivers the traveller into the local heart of a destination – not the sanitised tourist centre. It can be a stimulating experience, fun, sometimes a little scary and always interesting. I certainly have not given up on foreign travel yet and do plan to have a few more adventures in the future.

Are there destinations you would particularly like to visit?

There are particular events and places abroad I need to check out for the upcoming saga, and another historical series that I’ve got in development. Most of this travel is around Europe, a little in North Africa and, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, a refresher trip to the West Indies and the Eastern Seaboard is needed to underpin the next instalment in the Temple Series.

Beyond all those, I’ve been to America on a number of occasions but never to the West Coast and not to Canada either – so both of those are on the visit list. And there seems to have been a rule that I only ever got to visit New York during midwinter, so I’d like to go back there too – but during warmer weather. Actually, there are a host of places I’d like to see in America; I’m not sure if a traditional road trip is the thing for me, but however I travel, next time it’s going to take some careful planning to fit everything in.

I’d like to visit Antarctica too, though I’m not sure I will. Seems the cruise ships that carry tourists down there are starting to cause a big pollution problem. As it’s just about the last pristine place on Earth, I think I’ll do my bit to keep it that way and forgo the pleasure of visiting.

Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia – all for different reasons, I find I am very drawn to each of them. There are other places too; but it’s beginning to look like I’ll need more than just a few more adventures to fit them all in.