Alex Cruickshank author photo

About Alex Cruickshank

These 'about the author' blurbs are often twee and a little smug, with some self-deprecating irony thrown in for light relief. I'll try to avoid all that and just tell you what you might want to know.

I've been reading since I was four, with an intensity, at least until my late teens, that I now see in both my daughters. They are as addicted to reading as I was. I do mean that literally: we share a psychological addiction, in that withdrawal leads to mood swings, frustration, boredom, anger and even depression.

All the world's best ideas and stories are in books. No movie has ever come close to matching the dramatic storyscape that a good novel triggers in my head. The books I read in my youth were gateways to other worlds, societies, times, universes and ways of thinking. They expanded my mind and shaped my personality, ethics, politics and world-view like nothing before or since. I won't mention any of the authors by name as there are too many, some of them long deceased, others clinging on and still writing (it's not as though any of us can stop).

Something went wrong in my twenties. Either the writing changed or I did, or both. I found it hard to find good, new stories to read. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places, but where I searched for enlightenment and delight I found only mundane introspection and predictability. I won't waste my time or yours trying to analyse this change, except to say that eventually I realised that what I missed in the countless prize-winning, best-selling novels I waded through was escapism and narrative. I wanted to be taken out of my world and shown others. It didn't happen.

(As an aside, this is why JK Rowling did so well, and deserved her success. I was too old for Harry Potter when the first novel came out, but I doffed my cap at Rowling's achievement, not to mention her tenacity in the face of agents and publishers more interested in numbers than words. It's hard to sell dreams to people with no imagination.)

In some respects I've never grown up. I'm almost 47 as I write these words, still looking for narrative and escapism in life and in novels. Those traits remain exceedingly rare and precious in both environments. So I've decided to write my own stories, with just one criterion for success: they must be stories that I would enjoy reading.

I've been writing professionally since 1994 but always non-fiction, mainly IT journalism and corporate web content. I have no complaints about that work, since it's paid the bills and more, but I've never forgotten those measureless hours in my childhood spent hunched over my mother's old manual typewriter, bashing out science fiction stories and tales of other worlds. It's time to take up where that younger me left off.

I'm not seeking (nor do I have any chance of being awarded) any literary prizes. My work isn't literature. I'm aiming much higher: I want to tell good stories. Fiction should help us cope with whatever the world throws our way. Good stories take us out of ourselves and show us true wonder. The best tales make us feel delighted to be alive. I don't know if I can do any of that for you, but I'm going to try.

Alex Cruickshank, February 2018

NB. I have no social media presence. This site (Disruptive Influence) and my business writing site, Ministry of Prose, represent the entirety of my online presence, aside from an old LinkedIn account that I never use. You can contact me directly via words@ministryofprose.com.

All content © copyright Alex Cruickshank 2018-onward