I’m 60 now and so a little the worse for wear but living in Santa Barbara, California helps! On most days it really is as blue as the deep blue sea and I love the roar of the ocean, the majestic mountains, the white adobe architecture, and the twisting oaks and carpets of flowers in my yard where I walk my beloved pugs twice a day. It’s a long way from the Catholic school where I was immured as a teenager and Oxford where I spread my wings and law school where I had them clipped. I became a barrister in London, defending the guilty and the innocent, charged with drugs and fraud, murder and mayhem, and then reinvented myself at the millennium as a full-time writer. I started with what I knew and wrote courtroom dramas and then this developed into crime thrillers with historical settings until the history took over completely and I became a fully-fledged writer of historical fiction. I loved history as a child – Napoleon was my hero - and in my more recent writing I have tried to bring the past alive and describe what it was like to live through terrible events like the Blitz and the Battle of the Somme.
I am the grandson of JRR Tolkien and for many years felt that his fame cast a long shadow over my life, inhibiting my own creative impulse. Becoming a writer was an act of faith and a hard learning process with many setbacks, but as I grew in confidence and ability, I was able to come to terms with my inheritance. My last book, No Man’s Land, is inspired by events in my grandfather’s life both before and during the First World War and I think he would be proud of me that I wrote it. As a director of the Tolkien Estate I work with other family members to protect and enhance his extraordinary legacy.
I’ve been lucky to be married for 35 years to my wife, Tracy, who has encouraged and inspired me in all my creative endeavors. She is a writer herself and an expert on vintage fashion and jewelry, and for many years was the co-owner of Steinberg and Tolkien, the world-famous vintage clothing store in London’s King’s Road. We have two wonderful children, Nicholas and Anna.