'Who in the world am I?'

'Ah, that's the great puzzle...'

~ from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 1865

A Colourful Past

The life and career of an author to date...

'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...'

After over a decade of service in the armed forces, where I had many adventures both home and abroad, met some wonderful people (and a lot of terrible ones, too), and did many things that I look back on with absolute disbelief, I left the armed forces and retrained as a systems and network engineer, before going on to develop a career as a regulatory specialist in the IT industry, where I studied law and worked with private and public agencies to protect the public against cyber crime... It all sounds much more exciting than it was, I assure you.

‘A sporting chance.’

Having spent many years focusing on my career, I decided that I needed a new challenge in my life, and having read a magazine article about Ironman Triathlon, a race designed for superhumans and lunatics, starting with a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike, and topped off with a 26.2 mile run, I thought it was something I’d like to have a go at. Just to see if I could (keeping myself firmly grounded in the lunatic category, of course!). What followed turned into something of a passion that saw me training and racing at home and abroad, including achieving my goal of completing an Ironman (more than once, for reasons unknown, though absolutely not even in the same post code as the superhuman category!). While completing an Ironman was the motivation that started my triathlon journey, I found that I much preferred racing the shorter distances, and after a great deal of hard work to improve my speed over the Olympic distance triathlon of ‘just’ a 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run, I qualified to represent Great Britain at the European Triathlon Championships, and in the following years was fortunate enough to meet the qualifying standards to be selected to represent Great Britain at various World and European championship events.

‘Focus shift.’

After years of training and racing, and a few challenges with injuries, illness, and general life just getting in the way by demanding I be part of it, I found that I wasn’t able to invest the time my training needed for me to compete at the next level. It could also be argued that I’d reached a natural plateau for that time in my life… Fortunately, while training and racing, and spending time helping friends with their own journey in triathlon, I’d developed an interest in coaching, and spent a lot of time (and arguably just as much money) studying and qualifying as a coach in triathlon, cycling, running, athletics, swimming, and even biomechanics! This inevitably led to me doing more coaching than racing, and to my surprise, I found that I got much more enjoyment out of seeing others succeed and achieve their goals than I ever got from racing myself, except, maybe, for when I pulled on the Great Britain race kit for the first time. Coaching took over from racing almost entirely, though I still trained regularly, but the focus of my passion had shifted, and I enjoyed many years of coaching some of the best people I've known, and helping them achieve their goals, whether that be to get fit, complete their first ever triathlon, or to represent Great Britain, which many of the athletes I worked with went on to do in various sports.

It was during my time as a triathlete and coach that I started my own sports management consultancy, where I was involved in developing and consulting on sporting events at local, national, and international levels. As a result of this, I was also contracted to work with numerous public and private organisations to help address and develop their culture and management, and deliver training to improve staff engagement and productivity.

‘I Want More.’

It was during my time as a coach that I came to focus more on mental health and wellbeing, specifically the difficulties experienced by athletes who were doing what was asked of them physically, but still struggling to achieve their goals. With some exploration and learning, I eventually fell down a deep and complex rabbit hole that I’ve continued down ever since. I ended up training as a counsellor, so I could better support the athletes I was working with on a psychological level as well as physical, and from there I returned to university and qualified as a registered mental health professional. Some years later I moved away from triathlon, though still maintained a few connections with the sport, and shifted my focus once again onto mental health and wellbeing, where I worked both as a senior therapist specialising in a number of different areas, and as a leader setting up, managing, and delivering healthcare services to wide and diverse populations.

So, that’s the past… A brief history of the life that brought me to where I am today, and contributed immeasurably to my becoming an author.

Looking to the horizon

Present and future - What comes next?

‘Never Standing Still’

Alongside my professional career and my sport, and my writing and drawing (which are covered on other sections of this site), I like to keep physically and mentally active. In addition to many years competing and coaching in triathlon, where running, swimming, and cycling kept me occupied, I’ve also enjoyed rugby, shooting, sailing, rowing, snowboarding, and skiing (of the cross country variety, I’m a liability to myself and others downhill!) These days, I’m also a keen épéeist, having discovered the joy of dressing up in white and attacking people with swords some years ago, and when I’m not fencing, working, writing, or reading, I can often be found surfing at the nearby beach. The most peaceful and calming sport I’ve found to date!

‘Sic itur ad astra.’

As those who have read the 'Harry's Game' series of books may have guessed, I’m also quite passionate about aviation! My mum paid for an experience flight in an old Auster AOP when I was around the age of 10, and I’ve been fascinated by aviation ever since. I even flew a helicopter before I’d learned to drive. Since then, I’ve flown many different civilian and military aircraft, including a 1943 Boeing Stearman, and a North American T6 Harvard, with just a Spitfire left on my ‘must fly’ list!

Aviation has been a big part of my life, even in my writing and drawing, and it feels like something that will be with me into the future, though in what form, I don’t yet know. I don’t doubt that I will continue to fly, and that aviation will feature in more of my books (it’s been a central part of twelve, so far!)

‘Looking Forward.’

Much the same as everyone else, I don’t really know what the future holds. I know for certain that I’m not going to be a world class surfer, and while I love aviation and flying, I’ve never really considered being a commercial pilot to be all that appealing. Unless, of course, a healthy lottery win puts me in a position where I can buy my own airfield and Spitfire, then maybe I could stretch to flying displays for a living, though that really isn’t what I’d consider work…

Writing, I hope, will continue to be part of my journey, and as I’ve said elsewhere on this site, I’m not sure that Harriet Cornwall has finished with me just yet, so there could be more to come! Other than that, it’s all a great unknown, which could be considered as quite an adventure.

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