Fast-learning John gains from Chichester CHINDI membership


West Sussex author John Sykes likes to tell his fellow members of Chichester independent writers group CHINDI he is there on a “brain suck”.

John, who writes under the name Jon Moorthorpe and lives in Rustington, says he has gained hugely from membership of writers’ groups, CHINDI in particular.

“I have enjoyed being stretched by them, and the CHINDI experience has been absolutely wonderful. Lots of people write very good stuff and are then not sure what to do with it, but CHINDI has got such wide range of experience and expertise you can learn almost anything you want from them. I have learnt so much from them that has helped me in every respect along the way.”

As for the nom de plume, John admits it was all rather forced upon him: “When I was setting up my website, I thought I would just use my name, John Sykes, and two days later I had about 3,000 hits on the site. I then discovered John Sykes was the lead guitarist of Thin Lizzy and then later on with Whitesnake. It just shows the value of some proper research! And then I tried my first two names, John Edward. I had even more hits! It turns out John Edward is a US TV medium.

“Jean, my partner, said to me ‘Where were you born?’ I was born in Moorthorpe, Yorkshire, and that’s how I became Jon Moorthorpe!”

As for the writing: “I was persuaded by my sister as a result of my doing some family research in the spring of last year to write something about it. I wrote a war diary of a great uncle based on fact and accurate location… though he didn’t actually write a diary. That part of it was fiction.

“I am now half way through writing a novel based on my own more recent experience of defence and security, and to keep my hand in, while I was finding out how to self-publish, I joined CHINDI about six months ago. I thought I would test out whether I really understood how to do it by writing a collection of short stories.”

The result is Migrating Geese.

The title comes from the first story in the collection – and has inevitably attracted the attention of a number of ornithologists.

“But in fact, the story is a love story based in mid-Wales. It is someone who goes there every year to watch the geese… and falls in love with the local barmaid. The second one in the book is about grandma who is in a care home and suffering from dementia. It is very different. All the stories are very, very different. There are only two of them which are largely based on my own experiences, aged 14 when I first left school.”

John published the war diary in November 2014 for the 100th anniversary of the First World War; Migrating Geese is now available.

“I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. It is very addictive. The pleasure you get out of it is that you can reflect a great deal of your past experience but actually reflect the experience. I describe it as the names and locations having been changed to protect the guilty! Really I just enjoying being stretched.”

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