Kevin Doherty grew up in Northern Ireland, in the breathtaking landscapes and coastal scenery now made famous by Game of Thrones. He says of this period of his life: ‘When we’re young, we take so much for granted. The beauty of Northern Ireland, and my part of County Antrim in particular, is unsurpassed – yet to me it all seemed quite normal at the time. Little did I know . . .’
In contrast, his university years were spent in Belfast during the violence of the Troubles.
‘This was a rude awakening. I discovered what it was like to live in a divided community – and one in which the military presence was overwhelming. There really was constant danger. You took care what streets you walked through, what bars you went to, what conversations you had with strangers, you watched what vehicles were approaching. I’m sure all of this must have influenced my writing – its themes and ideas but also the physical settings and their emotional impact.’
After graduating, Kevin’s first job was in advertising, as a copywriter.
‘I literally knocked on the doors of advertising agencies until someone was brave enough – or foolhardy enough – to take me on.’
That was the start of his career in advertising and marketing. In time he became director of a number of UK and international companies, including Coca-Cola.
‘When I was a skinny teenager – those were the days – I tried to get a summer job loading crates of Coke onto delivery trucks. But I was turned down because I was too scrawny. I forgot all about this until a couple of decades later I found myself as vice-president and marketing director of the British operation. I suppose it was a case of “If at first you don’t succeed . . .”. And by the way, I reckon the man who didn’t hire me to load his trucks was quite right – I would have pegged out before the end of my first shift.’
Kevin has also advised government agencies and multinational businesses in Britain and Europe. He now writes full time, and lives in Berkshire, England, with his wife Roz. They have three sons, three daughters-in-law and a growing band of grandchildren.
‘Roz is my first, last and best editor. She’s the first person to read a book when I finish it – well, when I think I’ve finished it. Then she’s the last to read it again after all the rewriting and restructuring. The bad news is, she doesn’t pull her punches. The good news is – and this is what makes her my best editor – she’s always right.’