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Neal Asher Neal Asher

I was born in 1961 in Billericay in Essex (Ian Drury's got a lot to answer for), had an uneventful childhood and an inadequate and detestable schooling. My love of the strange began with, as it does with so many children, on my hearing The Hobbit, and a later reading of Lord of the Rings. It also helped that my parents (a school teacher and a lecturer in applied mathematics) were also SF afficionados.

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 I 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 I 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. Okay, I'm a rat. 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 computerised 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. To date I have had stories accepted by a large proportion of British small press SF and fantasy magazines. As to larger works: my most notable success has been the publication of my novellas Mindgames: Fool's Mate by Gordon McGregor's Club 199, and The Parasite and The Engineer by Tanjen. I have also had my SF novella Africa Zero serialized in Threads, and a short story collection called Runcible Tales published by Piper's Ash.

But the best news to date is that Pan Macmillan have published my novels Gridlinked, The Skinner, The Line of Polity and Cowl, with Brass Man to follow in April 2005. Watch this space.

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