Ryan Stark is the pen name of Austen Gower.
Austen often jokes that, still under 60 years old, he has seen seven decades. Whilst this is a simple trick of mathematics, one could certainly believe it when one looks upon his silver hair and life-worn features.
Born in 1959 in Redditch, England, Austen is the middle of three brothers. His father, Austin, was a draughtsman and light engineer by trade, famously building the prototype Wispa bar making machine for Cadbury. His mother worked in the shop they both ran for a while.
In 1967, while Mick Jagger was enjoying a brief stay at Her Majesties hotel, Brixton, his family were moving to Birmingham, where his parents took over a haberdashery shop.
In 1971, having passed the Eleven Plus, Austen attended Moseley Grammar School, at that time second only to King Edward VI in terms of educational achievement. Paradoxically, this marked a turning point in Austen’s life and, suffering a number of minor health complaints, he left with mediocre qualifications. Ironically, his parents then moved back to Redditch and his health improved. He did, however, learn to play the guitar and began a life-time relationship with music.
After a short stint in anodising , Austen took a two year Higher National Diploma in Computer Studies and started a long and arguably distinguished career in Business Analysis and Consultancy. Throughout that time, he has been commissioned to write technical works on topics as diverse as network communications, project management methodology and anger management, for which he has a number of published articles. He now runs a successful Consultancy firm.
In another of life’s paradoxes, it was this career which stifled Austen’s creativity until much later in life. A sketcher from an early age, he even earned a Blue Peter badge for his artistic skills, yet the regime of grammar school and the strictures of IT all but stultified the right side of his brain, leaving him frustrated and lacking achievement without knowing why.
Once more, though, good was to come from bad. Some years ago, Austen trained as an Anger Management coach and, whilst his new career did not work out, and he fell back into IT, he was made painfully aware that much of the frustration he felt with life was due to not exercising his creativity.
After a hankering to write a novel, which stretches back around twenty years and four incomplete works, finally he decided to take creative writing seriously, with a view to quitting the rat race and using some of the right side of his brain so repressed by his day job. The result was Killing by the Book, the first of hopefully many outings for Daley and Whetstone.
In his spare time, he still enjoys music, and until recently was bass guitarist with local band FishHeads, performing Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll to a select audience in the Redditch area. For his sins, he supports West Bromwich Albion FC. Well, nobody’s perfect.
Austen is married to Val and together they settled in Redditch. They have two grown-up children.