Friday, October 28, 2011


When I'm doing radio interviews, I'm often asked how I got into the field of writing. Well, it was actually nothing to do with the paranormal at all.

I left school (actually I quit, walked out, stormed out - a long story...!) with hardly an academic qualification to my name, and those I did have weren't worth a damn thing.

And I had no idea what I was going to for work. That is, until I stumbled on an opening at a new magazine that was starting up in the area I was living at the time.

This was October 1982, I was 17, sported a Johnny Ramone-style bowl haircut, and was in love with Clare (Gregory's Girl) Grogan. And I needed money.

So, I applied for the gig and, to my amazement - given my abysmal record at school - got it!

Welcome to Zero: it was a regional magazine, focusing on such issues as music, fashion, local entertainment, equally local gossip, and so on.

Actually, Zero began as a definitive fanzine put together by 7 of us using a few old typewriters (yes, real typewriters, with ribbons - crikey!), loads of Letraset, and a battered old photocopier.

In fact, that was my happiest time spent with Zero - which, while it wasn't exactly the equivalent of Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary, I like to think it came pretty close!

Zero eventually got picked up - and funded - by a local investor and became glossy and - shock! - was eventually filled with color photos, rather than poorly photocopies B&W images.

But, it didn't last. Two years later, it was all over.

For the next 5 or 6 years, I held down various jobs - van-driver, shelf-stacker in a paint and wallpaper warehouse, forklift-driver, the list goes on and on - but I knew all along that writing was what I wanted to do. And I have Zero to thank for that.

The picture above shows the front-cover of the first edition of the original fanzine version of Zero which, I still remember to this day, we put together on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon before heading off to the pub...

The image of Zero 1 accompanying this post may not be paranormal in nature, but it was certainly responsible for getting me writing on the paranormal!


  1. You know that Zero One (O1) was the name of the Machine nation in the Matrix universe, right? ;)

    I think people in our field are autodidacts in a great level of degree, and so we have a lot of respect for the virtues of self-teaching. I have thought many times about returning to school to get a Masters degree, yet I hate how our society forces you to judge the value of education based on the amount of money it might award you; the logical thing would be to study an MBA but I just don't have a head for financial numbers --besides, nowadays it seems that the more diplomas you have the less opportunities you'll find in the job market!

    Man, where's Tyler Durden when you need' im? :P

  2. I'd forgotten that re Z1!

    Yeah, pieces of paper with academic credentials on are only worth something because bosses insist on having them from employees.

    If you can write, why do you need a degree in literature or something?

    If you're brilliant at fixing car engines, why do you need some college certificate saying so?

    Too many companies place far more faith in that bit of paper than in the actual ability of a person to do something meaningful and successful.

    My view has always been, jump in at the deep end, and then you're forced to learn things, and quickly too.

    There's nothing as worthwhile as exposure to the real world and learning from it. Cooped up in some classroom gives you no understanding of the real world.