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headshotD.D. Johnston, the author of Peace, Love, and Petrol Bombs, The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, and The Secret Baby Room, publishes as ‘D.D.’ because he vaguely thinks that’s what writers do – W.H. Auden, A.S. Byatt, J.M. Coetzee, E.L. Doctorow, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, A.M. Homes, B.S. Johnson, A.L. Kennedy, D.H. Lawrence, V.S. Naipaul,  J.D. Salinger, W.G. Sebald, H.G. Wells, etc. – and he mistakenly thinks it will make him sound serious or important or mysterious or interesting.  If anything, it makes people think that he, like Auden, was named something like Wystan.  Still, it’s the sort of thing he feels a writer should do, rather like referring to oneself in the third person.

He was born in Central Scotland on 6th October 1979, the day that the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by twenty points, undermining the manufacturing sector and heralding an economic epoch sometimes called ‘post-Fordism’.  A shy child obsessed with sport, in adolescence he was distinguished only by his late development and his acute Seborrhoeic dermatitis. Since none of the above are conducive to popularity, and since, as far as he or anyone else could tell, he had no discernible talents, in his teenage years, despite his good upbringing, he slid towards delinquency: knock delinquents all you want, but compared to other sectors, they’re refreshingly committed to widening access.

Fortunately, as the century ended, D.D. grew up a bit, fell in love, and moved in with his partner.  While earning a living flipping burgers, he studied for a degree in sociology.  He wasn’t especially good at sociology either, but at least sociologists had theories to explain why he felt so fundamentally alienated from every social institution.  However, the ideas that most resonated with young D.D. were those he encountered away from the university: radical politics promised a future in which everybody could work without timed buzzers to dictate when they washed their hands.  His student years passed in a whirlwind of demonstrations and riots and pickets and blockades. Capitalism was so screwed.

Well, capitalism probably is screwed – and if it’s not, we probably are – but it’s taking longer to die than D.D. had hoped. For the second time in his life, D.D. slumped into melancholy.  There was only one thing for it: he planned to write.  Exhausted from years of bumming around, he settled in England where he had two stints working as a bouncer (a weird vocation for a guy of such puny stature). He then found employment in a Manchester bus station, where he worked unhappily until 2007.

It was during this time that he got his first paid writing job: he earned £40 per thousand words working on the memoir of a retired Mancunian career criminal.  She would only meet behind the tinted windows of her BMW, and she couldn’t always remember exactly which of her acquaintances she had and hadn’t married.  Convinced he’d finally found his vocation, D.D. moved to Gloucestershire to study writing.  Around this time, he  quarrelled with two men, who smashed every bone in his face with a monkey wrench; always a lucky guy, after much surgery and rehabilitation, D.D. emerged with no memory of the beating, £11,000 in compensation, and a slightly improved bone structure.  Since then he has lived a quiet and diligent life.  He was awarded a full scholarship to study for a PhD, which he successfully completed in 2012.

Today, he lives in Cheltenham Spa and is a model citizen who sometimes shops at Waitrose. He is employed as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire. He is the author of three novels, and he also runs the onlinewritingtips.com website.

 

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