Google Earth has found the place for me.
The lessons were in a portacabin in the car park. They ran through January, February and March. I never took my coat off. The structure marked with the arrow in the next shot may well be where they were held, but given the intervening twenty years ... probably not.
Anyway. The teacher was a lady called Ann Palmer and she covered a wide range of basics. All the useful stuff such as point of view, head hopping, info dumping, description, getting to the point etc as well as practical matters such as casing your market.
After the course finished I was inspired. I went away a wrote a bad fantasy book. A year or two after that I wrote an OK fantasy book. And a year after that I wrote Prince of Thorns.
I discovered Ann Palmer on the internet recently and listened to a podcast interview. She mentioned that she had had a guy in one of her classes that spent the whole time doodling, filling sheets of paper. It was, apparently, the only way he could concentrate on what she was saying.
It set her to thinking about the connection between imagination and imagery, and after some years researching the psychology of the thing she went on to write a book about visualization, imagery and imagination.
I was the doodler. I doodled my way through every meeting, lecture and presentation I've ever attended. It's nice that we both set each other writing books.
In real life (as Lemony Snicket teaches us) stories have no beginning and no end. I didn't one day out of the blue decide to go to an evening class in creative writing.
In nursery school (age 3ish) I told the other children a story about a crocodile in the toilet and they were too afraid to use it.
When I was in primary school I used to write stories for class. I have a vivid memory of one teacher being very impressed with a story of mine and telling me to read it to the class. I refused, leading to a long stand-off. I guess even then I was firmly in the writers' camp rather than the performers' camp.
In 1977 I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. Before long I was writing dungeons for my friends to adventure in.
In 1985 I picked up a flier for a fantasy play-by-mail game. I started playing and after I finished my first degree I worked as one of the games masters for the game. There were five or six of us and we worked in a dilapidated office above a garage in the red light district in Southampton.
On the day I arrived a car full of men pulled alongside me in the street and asked if I could sell them heroin. There were prostitutes on all the street corners and some of the houses literally had red lights in the windows.
I wrote replies (turns) to the players in my area, building parts of an interactive fantasy story involving a thousand or more people.
I kept doing this in my spare time for a decade and made tens of thousands of pounds (at a terrible hourly rate). This was the first time I was paid for writing fiction.
In 2001 I moved to America (tripling my salary! scientists are paid shit in the UK) and no longer had time to keep my area of Saturnalia going. To scratch my creative itch I joined some online writing groups and started writing short stories, then wrote that 2nd book I mentioned. Then around 2003 I started writing Prince of Thorns.
I sold my first short story in 2004.
My first book was published in 2011.
I sold my millionth book in 2015.