I was born in Germany, the son of a Nigerian mother and English father, but grew up in the UK. After graduating from Edinburgh University, I roamed the world, stopping to live in Egypt, Lesotho, Colombia, England, Italy, and the United States. I made a living mainly by teaching English as a Foreign Language. In Lesotho I ran a school theatre and I did some work for the anti-apartheid movement in neighbouring South Africa, which marked something of an awakening for me.
I didn't own stuff like cars and houses until I was well into my thirties because I spent all my money on travel and books. To date, I've been to about sixty countries, and have about ten zillion books, half of which I still haven't read.
I've always been a writer. I wrote plays for schoolchildren in the UK and Lesotho. In my twenties I began publishing stories about social justice issues in black communities in various journals and anthologies (see here
for selected short fiction). The Times, London, described my work thus: "hard-hitting ... in the kind of language that packs a serious punch" and "display[s] the precise observational skills, the facility with language, and the ability to make a small tale speak fresh volumes."
In the late nineties, under the name JJ Wilson, I co-authored my first textbook for adult students of English. I wrote it with my friend and colleague Antonia Clare. Several similar books followed, as well as more academic works for teachers. These were published by Longman (later Pearson). For two of my educational books I was honoured at Buckingham Palace in 2008 and 2011.
I live in Silver City, New Mexico, USA, with my wife, son and stepdaughter.