Complaining about writer's block is a luxury, according to Twickenham author John Harding, who says even the bad times can be good ones when you are doing the job you love.

John, who has just had his third novel published, was speaking to Richmond and Twickenham Times' journalist Chris Wickham and said a move from the countryside to the borough of Richmond was just the catalyst he needed to give up his stressful day job in favour of his dream job, being a novelist.

"You do have days when you don't get anything done. It can be soul destroying if you are getting nowhere, very depressing and tough at times but it's a luxury to complain, it's not like I'm a coal miner," he says.

Although it's not manual labour, writing novels has not always been a pleasure for east Twickenham author John Harding. His first book was written in a series of two hour bursts after the birth of his first son and took him five years from first draft to publication.

Since then he has written two more, the latest, One Big Damn Puzzler, was published last summer, and John's successful writing career is now starting to attract more attention.

One Big Damn Puzzler has been bought by publishing giant Harper Collins who will be putting it into American shops while his first book, What We Did On Our Holiday, is set to become a television drama starring former EastEnders star Shane Ritchie.

It's a long way from Prickwillow, the village just outside Ely where John was born, in 1951, and raised.

"I went to the local school, then the grammar school and Oxford University after that, to read English," he explains.

"The area I lived in was very flat and used for arable farming and there was nothing you get in a town, no clubs or cinemas, you had to travel to get entertainment and you didn't have the nice bits of the countryside.

"I found it very hard and my primary motive was to get out, I think I worked very hard on my education because I knew I didn't want to spend the rest of my life there."

John became a journalist after leaving Oxford and went to work for DC Thompson, as a newspaper reporter in 1974 before moving to IPC magazines three years later.

"I worked on a variety of titles," he says. "Mainly young people's and women's magazines. I was there for nine years and got elevated to being in charge of a group of magazines so I went away from writing.

"It became more and more managerial, it is a problem in journalism that if you are good at writing you get promoted out of it to do something you aren't good at. After promotion I found it very stressful and not very rewarding. So in 1985 I decided to quit and go back to writing so I became a freelance writer.

"I wrote features, and a lot of things relying on my writing style. I did pretty well but I always wanted to write a novel, that was my ambition."

In order to try and see that ambition realised John, and his wife Norah, who he met while working at IPC, moved from St Margarets to Devon, but he carried on writing features and got no further with a novel so he moved back to Richmond upon Thames, settling in Cresswell Road.

"I decided that if I was going to write a book I had to get down to it," says John. "My first son, Jack, was born in 1994 so that focused me."

So John took evening classes at Richmond Adult College on how to write a novel and says they helped him to crystallise how he wanted to do it.

"After Jack was born it made me feel creative, I thought that I couldn't sit around as writing was going to get harder, by the time he was 15 months old my second son Edmund was on the way and I thought it would be impossible.

"My wife would work in the morning and every afternoon she would take Jack out for two hours, the first book was written in those two hours.

"There was a realisation that I had to do it, because I had always wanted to write a novel I did not feel I would be fulfilled if I didn't do it and I didn't want my child to have a father who thought he was a failure "I wrote the first draft of What We Did On Our Holiday in 1995, it was published in 2000. I was trying to get a couple of aspects of it right and when I got my final draft finished I got an agent and then a publisher quickly, that was a bit of luck.

"It was autobiographical, it's about a family and the man takes his mother and father on holiday to Malta. The father has Parkinson's disease, which my father had, and I did take them on holiday.

"It's really about what you do and how you relate to your parents when they become old and incapable, what do you do when the adult becomes the child.

"It contains my own parents, who are both dead, but is a fictionalisation of them, with some of it exaggerated. In the book the mother weighs 18 stone but thinks she is a size 10, my mother wasn't obese, I did that for humourous purposes."

John tells me that Granada have bought an option to turn What We Did On Our Holiday into a television programme, and are preparing to do so.

"They have announced they will start shooting in May," he explains. "So it looks like it will go ahead. They have also said they have Shane Ritchie on board to star. I hope they do something good with it but I don't think I can be satisfied.

"When writers let a book go you don't have control, one would always like to be in control. There are some cases where writers don't make good filmmakers, someone else may do a better job. You have a different agenda, preserving the artistic agenda, they want a good film. If it's a good film no-one will mind."

Following What We Did On Our Holiday John had to decide what to do next, however he was sure he did not want to be a writer of formulaic books.

"Each book I have tried to do something different rather than each one being written to a formula, which would be easier," he says. "I have tried to find something different with each one. I would hope that when people read them they would get the same style but not find a similar plot.

"The easiest thing after the first one was to write something similar that everyone was going to like, but I did something different. I had a more intricate content and the characters were very different, I didn't want to repeat anything.

"The second book, While The Sun Shines, was written when I was reaching 50. It's about death appearing over the horizon, and the fear of death. The book is funny but it's also tragic, everything I do is.

"With the new book I wanted to be ambitious, I wanted a big book with lots of things in it. I'm always setting out to write a great book and probably not succeeding, but I would rather fail trying to do that than be safe."

John's attempt at a great book is One Big Damn Puzzler, set on a fictional Pacific island where one of the characters instranslating Hamlet into the local language.

He tells me that he had to create a language for his characters and at the same time keep it understandable, he ended up devising his own pidgin English.

"I had an idea about doing something concerning Hamlet and had an idea of writing something set on an island," he explains. "An image of a tribesman came to me and I wondered what he was working on, I had to think of something."

The story itself concerns the idyllic island being threatened by western intrusion and John says that as well as it being bought by Harper Collins there is the possibility of it being made into a film.

"Being bought by Harper Collins is a big thing," says John. "I write literary fiction which doesn't usually go across the Atlantic, you get many American books coming here but not the other way round.

"There is some film interest in the new book, with the setting it has a lot going for it. A couple of previews have said it would make a good romantic comedy but these things are pipe dreams."

It looks like there could be a big future for John and he is already working on his next novel, but despite the picturesque setting of One Big Damn Puzzler John doesn't think he'll go back to it.

"I wouldn't have thought I would go back, I don't want to do anything twice. You see it in films, it's usually a mistake to go back, people do that for a commercial reason, by the time you have finished a book you should have said everything you need to. I would never do anything for a commercial reason.

"Most people write books because they want to write them, book deals are so rare that you have to do this because you want to, I think that shows in my book."