Which of your books has more of an Essex focus?
I would say that my book FOLKLORE OF ESSEX concentrates more on the county’s huge collection of stories, myths, strange phenomena and eccentrics who have lived among us over the centuries.
Which aspects of Essex do you write about?
I love learning about the past, particularly when I know the area well; so it’s natural and comfortable to delve back into what has happened in the surrounding villages and towns. With every visit to one of our county museums or the Essex Record Office with its ever-changing exhibitions and displays, I seem to derive new ideas which could very well turn into a feature for my weblog or for one of my regular newspaper columns
Why do you like writing about Essex?
It’s what I know. From childhood, history has been one of my great interests. For more than twenty years, I’ve been writing articles for Essex journals, including the Essex Countryside (now Essex Life) among others. I also wrote a weekly column for Newsquest for 16 years covering Chelmsford, Brentwood & Billericay. This sometimes leads to readers sending in their own intriguing pieces of personal family information; often photographs, too which could possibly lead me into yet another historical journey.
Are there books about Essex you’d recommend?
There are some wonderful books that, although written many years ago, are precious to me and are referred to often. As a member in the past of several historical societies, I’ve met many of the authors who gave us lectures such as Kenneth Neale, A C Edwards, John Marriage, Gladys and Jennifer Ward and others such as Arthur Mee and William Addison.
Name your favourite Essex place, person or whatever.
I could write a book about each of these suggestions, but will settle with the novelist Daniel Defoe who went on a walkabout through these parts around 1720 and produced his book A Tour Throughout the Whole Island of Great Britain. This book can be found in the reference section of most local libraries.
One tip for writers who want to write about people and places
Read, read, read. Then take time to pay visits to our county’s museums. They are scattered around Essex and always allow enough time to poke around their archives, maps and book collections – it costs nothing and you come away with some amazing ideas.