Neal Asher lives sometimes in England, sometimes in Crete and mostly at a keyboard. Having over eighteen books published he has been accused of overproduction (despite spending far too much time ranting on his blog, cycling off fat, and drinking too much wine) but doesn't intend to slow down just yet.
The autobiography below was provided courtesy of the author.
I was born in 1961 in Billericay in Essex, had an uneventful childhood and an inadequate and detestable schooling courtesy of the comprehensive reform that would have us all equally uneducated. My love of the strange began, as it does with so many children, with my hearing The Hobbit, and a later reading Lord of the Rings. It also helped that my parents (a school teacher and a lecturer in applied mathematics) were also SF aficionados.
I started writing SF and fantasy at the age of sixteen, perhaps motivated by a compliment from my English teacher for a story I had written in class after an overdose of E.C. Tubb books. On leaving school there was a hiatus of a few years while a grappled with the adult world. During this time I worked with one of my three brothers for a firm which made steel furniture, ran a card school, and for which it seemed the prerequisites of employment were an ability to drink huge quantities, accept minimum wages, and make tea. It went bankrupt not long after I left.
At my next place of employment operated a milling machine and was dispatched on day release to do a Tech III course on 'Mechanical & Production Engineering'. While I was at this company I began writing again and produced a fantasy book which is still gathering dust amongst my other files. From this company I went with a breakaway company which went through various ups and downs before collapse which, incidentally, again came after I left. At that time my only successes as far as writing was concerned were to win a snack and sandwich toaster for a rhyme, and five pounds for a story about adolescent suicide.
With my college paper I managed to get myself into a high-tech machining company. I was twenty-five. Here was where I grew up and found direction. Firstly I began to write more regularly, this mostly assisted by joining a writer's folio of which I was a member for ten years. Secondly I took an English 'A' level (B pass) at night school, mainly to prove a point to myself. Thirdly, I began karate lessons and am now green belt (Useful, this, when writing fight scenes. It also means no one can build houses on me).
After three years with this company, by which time I was programming computerized machine tools, I left in the pursuit of more money. It was then that I began the Hadrim fantasy trilogy, wrote the first version of Fool's Mate, and began seriously to write short stories.
My next place of employment was a disaster and it was there I asked myself what I really wanted out of life. I wanted to be a writer, and I had come to hate the sight of factory walls and the smell of coolant oil. Again I left, this time to become self-employed: cutting grass, tree felling, and hedging etc. This got me out in the open air and left me much more time to write, and in the years that have followed I have been gradually crawling up the writing ladder.
Sitting in my files now, I have the first book of another fantasy trilogy Creatures of the Staff first book of The Infinite Willows, and a contemporary novel called Frog Wine. In one deviation from my usual writing practice, I have written a script for a three-part TV series called Trines, which is an amalgam of the strange and the contemporary, and a one hour drama called The Executioner's Lie.
Up until 2000 the limit of my success had been stories accepted by a large proportion of British small press SF and fantasy magazines, publication of my novellas Mindgames: Fool's Mate by Gordon McGregor's Club 199, and The Parasite and The Engineer by Tanjen, serialization of my SF novella Africa Zero in Threads, a short story collection called Runcible Tales published by Piper's Ash.
Post 2000, things have changed. My expectation of being a lonely perpetually knackered spare-time writer has been defeated. I am now married to Caroline and am a full-time writer. One of my 'synopses and samples' hit at Pan Macmillan and they offered me a three-book contract. In 2010 I finished my fourth 3-book contract with them, have over eighteen books to my name, and am now on a 5-book contract and am published in America, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Japan and Romania.
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