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Autobiography by Guy N Smith

When I created this site in 1998 at smithland.co.uk, Guy kindly contributed an autobiographical piece to introduce it. Here it is.

I was born on November 21, 1939, in the small village of Hopwas, near Tamworth, Staffordshire, England. My mother was a pre-war historical novelist (E M Weale) and she always encouraged me to write.

I was first published at the age of 12 in The Tettenhall Observer, a local weekly newspaper. Between 1952-57 I wrote 56 stories for them, many serialized. In 1990 I collated these into a book entitled Fifty Tales from the Fifties.

My father was a dedicated bank manager and I was destined for banking from birth. I accepted it but never found it very interesting. During the early years when I was working in Birmingham, I spent most of my lunch hours in the Birmingham gun quarter. I would have loved to have served an apprenticeship in the gun trade but my father would not hear of it.

Shooting (hunting) was my first love, and all my spare time was spent in this way. In 1961 I designed and made a 12-bore shotgun, intending to follow it up with six more, but I did not have the money to do this. I still use the Guy N Smith short-barrelled magnum. During 1960-67 I operated a small shotgun cartridge loading business but this finished when my components suppliers closed down and I could no longer obtain components at competitive prices.

My writing in those days only concerned shooting. I wrote regularly for most of the sporting magazines, interspersed with fiction for such magazines as the legendary London Mystery Selection, a quarterly anthology for which I contributed 18 stories between 1972-82.

In 1972 I launched my second hand bookselling business which eventually became Black Hill Books. Originally my intention was to concentrate on this and maybe build it up to a full-time business which would enable me to leave banking. Although we still have this business, writing came along and this proved to be the vehicle which gave me my freedom.

I wrote a horror novel for the New English Library in 1974 entitled Werewolf by Moonlight. This was followed by a couple more, but it was Night of the Crabs in 1976 which really launched me as a writer. It was a bestseller, spawning five sequels, and was followed by another 60 or so horror novels through to the mid-1990's. Amicus bought the film rights to Crabs in 1976 and this gave me the chance to leave banking and buy my own place, including my shoot, on the Black Hill.

The Guy N Smith Fan Club was formed in 1990 and still has an active membership. We hold a convention every year at my home which is always well attended.

Around this time I became Poland's best-selling author. Phantom Press published two GNS books each month, mostly with print runs of around 100,000.

I have written much, much more than just horror; crime and mystery (as Gavin Newman), and children's animal novels (as Jonathan Guy). I have written a dozen or so shooting and countryside books, a book on Writing Horror Fiction (A. & C. Black). In 1997 my first full length western novel, The Pony Riders was published by Pinnacle in the States.

With 100-plus books to my credit, I was looking for new challenges. In 1999 I formed my own publishing company and began to publish my own books. They did rather well and gave me a lot of satisfaction. We plan to publish one or two every year.

Still regretting that I had not served an apprenticeship in the gun trade, the best job of my life dropped into my lap in 1999 when I was offered the post of Gun Editor of The Countryman's Weekly, a weekly magazine which covers all field sports. This entails my writing five illustrated feature articles a week on guns, cartridges, deer stalking, big game hunting etc.

Alongside this we have expanded our mail order second hand crime fiction business, still publish a few books, and I find as much time as possible for shooting.

Jean, my wife, helps with the business. Our four children, Rowan, Tara, Gavin and Angus have all moved away from home but they visit on a regular basis.

I would not want to live anywhere other than my present home. We are remote, and that is how I like it. I don't like street lighting at night, nor the sound of traffic. I don't like cities and only visit one when it is absolutely necessary. I begrudge any day spent away from home.

My other interests are collecting (just about everything: books, toys, guns, cartridges). I have always been interested in tobacco; smoking and collecting pipes, tins and packaging etc. In 1976 I wrote a book entitled Tobacco Culture.

My home is like stepping back in time and I like to think that I am immune to political correctness and all the strange ideas which are thrust upon us today. I am the same as I have been and I have no intention of changing. Funny things, somebody or other would like to ban all my interests. I get the idea that there's people out there whose main purpose in life is to stop others from enjoying themselves!

I read a lot: my fiction preferences are vintage detective fiction and westerns. Otherwise I read shooting and African hunting books published in the early twentieth century.


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