PO Box 161
Gateshead, United Kingdom
My upbringing, by today’s standards, was painful! Being shifted about from pillar to post, as a child, (even living in a field for a time and then in a wooden hut) had its drawbacks. This constant drifting, which was no fault of my mother, was reflected in my lack of literacy and numeracy skills.
After a spell of living in a homeless family refuge, my mother and I eventually settled in the tough East End of Newcastle (Scotswood). After a short spell, we moved to Gateshead and led a more settled life.
I still wasn’t able to grasp basic literacy skills until I had reached the age of 11, by which time I was considered a ‘dunce’ because I couldn’t read anything more basic than ‘the cat sat on the mat’. I became an object of ridicule and endured being bullied by my peers. I was in a constant state of fear and I started to wet the bed, which I didn’t grow out of until I was 15.
Effortlessly, I took to truancy. For days on end, I would, often, take solace in my situation by seeking refuge in the safest place I knew, Gateshead’s Saltwell Park … until my mother found me!
There I was, sitting basking in the summer sun, in the middle of the great lawn that leads down to the park lake. I must have stuck out like a sore thumb. There, in the distance, I could see the ominous figure of my mother looming towards me … I was frozen to the spot with fear! All of this had come about because I couldn’t read or write. I ran away from the problem and now it was chasing after me … I was caught!
Years later, it was discovered that I had been born a natural left-hander and had been forced to write with my right hand. This had accelerated the small problem of being slightly dyslexic to my becoming a full-blown case of dyslexia gigantic.
All what I needed was an enthusiastic and motivated individual to help me through it. Soon, after the truancy incident, I was taken under the wing of one of the teachers at my school, Mrs Brown. Within a few months, I came on in leaps and bounds and couldn’t understand why I had been terrified of going to school. OK, I wasn’t going to win the Booker Prize for my efforts, but it was a start.
Within a few years, I had secured a number of certificates for my English oral and was well on my way to turning my life around. But! I will never forget the help Mrs Brown gave me … I am just as eager to help those who fear literacy as I too feared it.
From being a bed wetting bullied dyslexic, I now own a multi-million pound publishing company. I am a successful published investigative author, having had four of my own books serialised (three in the national press and one in a national magazine).
I now write for the top London publishing house of Blake Publishing, having had nearly 30 books published (as well as having published my own material), directed documentaries and act as a consultant to many investigative TV shows. (Real Lives, Panorama and Trevor McDonald’s Tonight, etc.)
Membership of the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) came about when life member and Old Bailey court reporter James Nicholson nominated me. I have contributed news items to many national newspapers and often cover behind the scenes background stories.
I also act as literary agent to many aspiring authors, having secured publishing deals for some of them via my own professional contacts in the publishing world.
Biggest publishing achievement: publishing the authorised biography (written by Sting’s closet friend) of Sting the rock star, which was of sufficient quality to carry his personal foreword. This book was serialised by the News of the World and Ireland’s Sunday Life, as well as being Night & Day mag’s Book of the Week and being praised on the Richard & Judy Show.
Biggest personal literary achievement: one of my own titles outselling Catherine Cookson’s books on Tyneside (UK)(Christmas 1998).
Biggest accolade: the Times newspaper once described my company, Mirage Publishing, as ‘ … an obscure publishing company from Tyneside’. I am classed as a maverick of the publishing industry due to my regular take up of emotive issues.
Adaptability & Assertiveness: able to adapt to any given situation and can be assertive at the right times whilst still empowering those around me.
Adjust, Adapt & Overcome: the key elements of any project.
Book production (pre and post): having first used a photocopier and stapler to manufacture my mass produced pamphlets, I am now familiar with all pre and postproduction procedures for manufacturing books. Whether the book is homemade or mass-produced, the same setting out skill is required … invaluable knowledge for anyone wishing to self-publish.
Communication: able to make those around me feel comfortable and at ease. Can communicate at all levels and, most importantly, able to listen to the suggestions of people around me. (Two way traffic.) Connecting with people allows a closer association of ideas.
Computer: fully literate with all aspects of PC Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. Passed RSA (Royal Society of Arts) exams at all levels.
Conduct: able to maintain a professional relationship with those in the work environment and to follow the protocols expected within these situations.
Counselling and Therapy Skills: accepting people (unconditionally) for what they are plays an important part in helping people … I have learned to accept people with an unconditional regard. I believe that this characteristic is important in anyone setting out to help others. You cannot decide on first meeting someone whether to accept or reject them simply on the basis of the way they look, behave, react or act.
Just because someone is lying in the gutter with their breath smelling of alcohol doesn’t mean they are a good-for-nothing drunkard … they could have collapsed and lapsed into a diabetic coma. (Same symptoms as being drunk and same smell as alcohol on the breath.)
I believe that when it comes to helping those less able than ourselves, we should offer a dignified response as opposed to an insolent look of defiance just because they don’t know how to do something. Counselling skills have taught me a better understanding and how to listen to my fellow man.
· Greatest therapeutic achievement: curing an agoraphobic of some 16 years sufferance during a one-hour therapy session using an advanced ‘open-eyed’ (Groverian) hypnotherapy session.
· Second greatest therapeutic achievement: curing a lifelong stammerer over 3 X one-hour hypnotherapy sessions.
Empathise & Sympathise: both elements go hand in hand.
Encouragement: able to give praise when praise is due. Set goals and targets for people to aim towards.
Film director: worked with numerous film crews as a director and the subject matter of numerous TV documentaries in the UK and Europe.
Guidance: able to break down instructions and tasks in a simple manner so that they can be grasped without complicated directives.
Motivational: able to empower those seeking to accomplish tasks at hand by visualisation. Instilling confidence in those with low self-esteem and leading them forward to achieve what they thought wasn’t possible. (Making the impossible happen.)
Oral Presentation: able to confidently make presentations to large groups.
Organisational Ability: when all about you are losing their heads …
Presence: able to take charge without an overpowering authority.
Presentation: working alongside my fellow publishers and peers demands precision presentation. Reworking scripts and presenting them in synopsis form demands a strict editorial stance so as to ensure that the work is succinct but sufficient enough to get the idea across.
Developing the work of others plays an important role in this sphere of presentation. At times, literary submissions by those with poor literacy skills have to be deciphered and presented in an understandable and comprehensive format … interpretation plays an important role.
The written word plays an important part in our lives, but when someone is trying to put their point across in this manner … things can go wrong. Perception and understanding of how people think goes a long way in creating a triumphant masterpiece out of something that might be rather banal.
My experience at organising event launches demands no less precision and enthusiasm as developing the work of others. Knowing how much you can pack into an event and making it interesting is a challenge, no less a challenge than working with those in need of literary help or formulating a literary resource for the local community.
Having the confidence to stand up and speak in front of hundreds of people has allowed my presentation skills to develop in to a relaxed style.
Promotional: organisational skills have been proven when launching books for authors. A particular event went well at Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice in West Derby, Liverpool. A book was launched to help raise funds for this self-funding hospice. Working with stars like Elton John, Cilla Black, Lulu, Chris Tarrant and many others demanded precise administrative duties. Arranging the event, which has been one of many, gave rise to a successful evening … and the book in question, featuring a multitude of stars, is still selling and helping to raise money for this worthy cause.
Self-motivational: meeting constantly changing deadlines on a multitude of publishing and media projects across a broad range of mediums has become an everyday task. The skills required to manage and complete such projects requires a vast array of diverse talents: self-motivation, research, investigation, analysis, journalism, fluent communication and succinct precision when called for.
Sporting: I mention these skills in connection with the page headed experience and skills that would make me most suited to this post. Qualified football referee (up to 4th division level), bronze medallion life saving medal holder, Northeast Junior Power Lifting Champion, ex-north-eastern counties rugby player, schoolboy champion shot putter and javelin thrower. Represented Gateshead Schoolboys rugby team, cricket team and basketball teams. Currently, have connections with the Harry Marsden Boxing Club in Kenton Bar, Newcastle.
Web Design Skills: intermediate web designer and now own and manage 20 web sites.
Work Experience: I have worked with prisoners in helping them develop their literary skills and have awakened their appetite for becoming involved in artistic and literary projects.
Actual case studies of the above from my files
· Male prisoner, 32,serving time in one of Scotland’s toughest jails. Classified as the most dangerous prisoner in the Scottish penal system. Currently in solitary confinement, he has a pedigree in violence and currently faces further charges relating to prison violence. A user of drugs, he is currently on a course of methadone. Contact with this man has been over a course of two months. During this time, he has changed his whole outlook and behaviour simply due to my assistance in helping him develop his writing talents. Although this man has only just learned to read and write and does not possess many literacy skills, he has managed, with a little coaxing, to pen his life story (which is a therapy in itself).
· Male prisoner, 64, serving time in one of Scotland’s softer jails. Currently serving time for drug related offence. Has won no less than 12 Koestler Awards for his writing skills. I first received communication from this man when he was serving a different prison sentence. Contact has been over a period of about three years, in which time I have helped him develop a more in-depth writing skill. He received a commendation and mention on BBC’s Bookmark programme, has a fiction script being considered by Scotland’s Cannongate Publishing (Edinburgh) and a script (autobiography) being considered by a London publisher (Blake Publishing). All due to my becoming involved with him and assisting him in developing and honing his skills.
· Male prisoner, 50, serving time in HMP Wakefield. Classified as the most dangerous prisoner in the English penal system, he has served 24 of his 30 years in solitary confinement! Artwork by this prisoner regularly sells at £750 to help raise money for charities. This prisoner has won 11 Koestler Awards for art, poetry and writing and has had five books published by mainstream publishers … all with my help over the last six years.
· Male prisoner, 35, serving time in Maghaberry Prison, N. Ireland. First man to be convicted of terrorism offence after the ‘Good Friday’ agreement. Due for release in 2005 … has taken an interest in writing his life story and has denounced violence all because of his new found writing skills that I have assisted him with.
· Male prisoner, 65, serving time in Rye Hill Prison, England. Convicted of murder and has served 12 years. Have been communicating with the man for the last two years and have made progress with his literacy skills. Wishes to continue creating artwork with his new found skills when he is released. Hidden talents were revealed when we communicated about his creative skills.
· Ex-prisoner penned his life story after communicating with me after his release. Currently, he is studying for a degree in criminology.
Writing disciplines: poetry, non-fiction, faction (fact and fiction mixed) local history and fiction.
Writing skills: I am experienced in all aspects of research, academic and fiction writing, which I can do with independence and professionalism.
The Golden Pen of hard man books, Steve Richards, claims a world record in having six differently titled books published (all of at least 80,000 words) in the UK within 4 months by a bona fide publisher (not self-published).
The first of these six books is to be launched on 1st April 2005 and the last of the six in the record in August 2005. The top London publishing house of Blake Publishing is publishing all of the titles.
Also, Steve is claiming a record a separate record by virtue of having three of the six titles published in the same month of April.
Steve, who is dyslexic, says of this feat, “This was accidental, but might inspire other writers.”
The titles, all within the true crime genre, can be checked on the web site of www.Amazon.co.uk
The titles are:
1. April 1st: Caroline Robert's 'The Lost Girl' (Ghost written) (ISBN: 1843581485)
2. April 1st: Richy Horsley’s 'Born To Fight' (Ghost written) (ISBN: 1844540960)
3. April 1st: Crash N Carry (ISBN: 1844541061)
4. June 1st: Title: 'Viv Graham' (ISBN: 1844541274)
5. July 1st: Brian Cockerill's 'Tax Man' (Ghost written) (ISBN: 1844541347)
6. August: Jimmy Holland's 'Lost in Care' (Ghost written) (ISBN: 1844541614)
Interests: Non-fiction: investigative true crime, consumer affairs, biog and autobiographies
Published writer: Yes