I grew up in England, where I completed my engineering degree. I was more interested in world travel, so worked my way around the world until I arrived in Australia. After a year, I settled in Sydney, which has been my base ever since.
When I was about 30, a software company I helped to found was acquired. I should have been over the moon with all the extra zeros on the end of my bank balance. However, I wasn’t any happier than before, as I knew something was missing in my life, but wasn’t sure what!
If the meaning of life wasn’t about becoming rich and successful, then what was it? I needed to find a purpose for my life. Follow your passion they say, so I set off on a round-the-world trip to figure it out.
Finding My purpose
On my way around the world, I attended various personal development courses and spiritual retreats. Six months later, I ended up doing a vision quest on a sacred island off the west coast of America.
A vision quest is a week-long rite of passage traditionally taken by young Native American males. It includes a series of sacred ceremonies and not eating for three days and nights. This causes the participants to hallucinate and receive a vision that reveals their future role within the tribe.
Before the end, my vision finally arrived: I saw an eagle gliding high above me. It dropped a hardcover book, which fell from the skies and landed in my lap. I saw my name on the cover and was told I would write this bestselling book that was going to inspire millions of people around the world!
I was going to be a writer. Really? That didn’t sound like me – I’d never been very good at writing. At school, my best subjects were maths and physics, which is why I chose to do an engineering degree.
After returning to Australia, I bought a house in a beautiful area just west of Sydney that attracts many writers and other creative types. While living in the Upper Blue Mountains, I found several different writing groups and completed several short stories and memoirs. Slowly but surely I was learning the craft.
Several years later, I was about to give up on the writing and return to working in the IT industry – but fate intervened. When riding my motorbike to the city, I was catapulted by a turning car that didn’t see me. I landed head first further down the road and was in a coma. An ambulance took me to a hospital with a severe head injury, a broken knee and both arms in plaster!
Tests showed I had suffered permanent frontal lobe damage, and I was told I would never be able to work in an executive role again.
However, my neurologist told me the brain is plastic and that I could heal it by creating new pathways. One way to by-pass the lesions he advised was to work with languages.
So, I completed a course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), and soon after, moved to Barcelona. I spent the next year teaching English during the day and learning Spanish in my free time.
This job helped me learn how to teach and also massively improved my understanding of English grammar. I would need this if I was ever going to be a writer.
As a certified practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), I was able to incorporate many of these techniques into my teaching. I found them very effective and soon became a Master Practitioner of NLP, TimeLine Therapy and hypnotherapy.
After Spain, my teaching career flourished. I taught English at language schools in Australia, France and China. I taught IT Project Management at a technical college and then science at a high school. I also spent two years as a Physics lecturer and course co-ordinator at The Australian National University.
A few years after my motorbike crash, I enrolled in a master’s degree in Film at the University of Sydney. I wanted to test if my brain had fully recovered from my head injuries.
Unlike my undergraduate degree, which felt like a chore, I was effortlessly gaining top grades in all my film subjects. It seems that my work with languages had somehow re-wired my brain. I still had all my left-brain logic but was now tapping into the creative side to write and direct films.
Because I gained top grades in my master’s degree, I wasn’t short of offers to do a doctorate. After a sabbatical year in Paris, I returned to Australia to begin a PhD in Science Communication at The Australian National University in Canberra. This allowed me to combine my interest in science and technology with my more recent passion for film.
You can read about my research into movies involving time travel and other temporal phenomena on my companion website, timetravelmovies.org. There you will also find reviews of 144 of these films from a perspective of the science of time and how well it was communicated.
During my PhD, I worked as a freelance science writer and also as a content writer for the marketing team at the University.
When I finally submitted my thesis, I remember my supervisor telling me the process I’d been though during the last five years was the equivalent of doing an apprenticeship in writing a book!
Within a year of leaving uni, I had completed by first screenplay: a romantic drama involving time travel. But I wanted to up the ante, so moved to Hollywood, where I spent one of the best years of my life working on film and television screenplays.
When teaching at a high school in China, I began writing my memoirs. Soon after returning to Sydney, I landed a full-time job as the editor of a weekly internal newsletter for a government department. The good news was that I was now getting well paid for my writing and editing skills!