My writing ‘career’ began very tentatively with my PhD doctorate, written between July 1993 and July 1996. By the end of it I had started to find my ‘voice’ and the drive to continue writing. Academic journal articles quickly followed as did my first book, ‘Transforming Managers’ (1999) co-edited with Dr Roy Moodley; initially a colleague at Thomas Danby FE College but eventually someone who would became not just my closest male friend but an intellectual soulmate.
As soon as that first book was published I started looking for more writing opportunities and received a tremendous boost when, in late 1999, Polity Press offered me contracts to write my first monograph, Men and Masculinities and co-edit (with Prof. Frank Barrett) The Masculinities Reader. That was a phenomenal moment in both my writing and intellectual development. Around the same time, Routledge offered me a contract to co-edit Managing Professional Identities (with Prof. Mike Dent). So, between 2000 and 2002 I had three prestigious academic books on the go plus numerous journal articles and book chapters.
By the middle of 2002 I was firmly establishing myself as an internationally-recognised sociologist specialising in critical gender studies, men and masculinities. However, while my writing and academic career was blossoming, my personal life was going through one of its periodic transitions. This, combined with the realisation that delving ever deeper into dense sociological theory (e.g. poststructuralism and postmodernism) would leave me talking to a diminishing audience of like-minded academics, I decided to test myself with mainstream, non-fiction, writing.
In order to crack the mainstream book market, one first needs a literary agent and I was lucky enough to find one: Amanda Preston, then a newly appointed agent at Sheil Land Associates. With Amanda’s guidance, in March 2003 my first mainstream book was published by Fusion Press: Men, Women, Love and Romance. This was well-received and generated some international and UK publicity. For the first time in my academic career I found myself doing interviews on the radio and for newspapers. But even while I was absorbed in writing this book, the idea for a second mainstream book was coming into my mind – a book on the various types of men. Given my academic knowledge and research history into men and masculinities, plus my knowledge of men, it didn’t take much for The Many Faces of Men, to be born. Very quickly, Random House snapped it up.
The MFoM surpassed all my expectations, and those of my agent, Amanda. Even before it had been written I’d received contracts from overseas publishers. Eventually, over the ensuing few years, MFoM got translated into 13 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Swedish, Vietnamese, Dutch, Spanish and Polish. The response from publishers was staggering though nothing compared to the international publicity I received for this book. I must have done over a hundred (live) radio and newspaper interviews, many with overseas media, plus television appearances on the Richard and Judy Show, Sky News, BBC News, ITV morning shows, and RTE (Dublin). During the three months from the book’s Random House (English language) publication in January 2004, to the end of March 2004, my name, face and the book, were rarely out of the media limelight. I even had meetings in London with independent TV producers to discuss a television programme based around MFoM. Quite an experience.
And all this was before the days of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Then, in early April 2004, I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, with my then wife, Suwanna, and ordained as a Buddhist monk. This had been planned months before and was, I realised, an essential part of my life’s journey. It also initiated a change in me, not least through adopting daily meditation.
By the time I came out of the monkhood and returned to the UK, my identity had undergone another shift.
I never repeated the amazing but exhausting experience of the MFoM with any subsequent book, and probably just as well. I’d had my Warholian ’15 minutes’, enough to convince me that the media spotlight is not a tiger whose back I want to be riding for very long.
I resumed writing academic books, though still happy to do the occasional media interview and answer questions on 21st century men, women, love and romance.
Roy Moodley (by then a Professor in Psychology at Toronto University), and I collaborated again and eventually produced ‘Gender Identity’ (Oxford University Press) with his wife, Anissa, as third author. Around the same time, Routledge (UK) gave me a contract for a 5-Volume edited collected on Men and Masculinities, part of their Major Work in Sociology, series.
From 2012 to 2020 I wrote three more mainstream books, the most successful of which was The Relationship Manifesto (AUK books). But my most productive writing time has occurred since 2020 (when I reached 70 years of age). Since then I’ve had five books published, including the best-selling Toxic Masculinity, International Schooling, and the three books on Total Inclusivity (published by Routledge in 2022)
Devising the concept of Total Inclusivity and writing three books about it spurred me on to look more closely at emotional intelligence. In the summer of 2023 I had the great good fortune to meet Van Thanh Binh, a Vietnamese academic developing her concept of self-love. We partnered-up and wrote our first book; Self-Love for Women: Overcoming toxic femininity and suffering, to be published by Acorn Books (UK) in the autumn of 2023. That book, and my collaborations with Binh, led to us forming our Vietnamese company, Intelligence Partnership, in January 2023.