Now he spends his time coming up with devilish plots.
His latest psychological thriller Anything For Her has been published by Zaffre Books – an exciting new direction for Graham, realising his long-held ambitions.
“I absolutely loved my time in teaching, but writing is something that I always hoped I would get around to doing at some stage.
“I am able to do it now, and it is lovely to do it, but I really did love teaching, and I do still miss the day-to-day contact with the staff and the students.
“But really, I am just lucky to have been able to do both.”
In Graham’s latest book, when Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her.
“He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.
“When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?”
As Graham says, it’s always a character that comes first when a book starts to develop in his mind.
“The story then comes out of the character, and the character of Billy came to me quite early on. He is in his late 20s and working in London as a front-end developer with computer games and websites.
“He is the person that translates the coding so that when you go onto a website you can see these things.
“He has got a number of things in his past including the death of his parents when he was 13, and that has made him a slightly-edgy person and a slightly-unreliable narrator.
“He was brought up by his older sister whom he worships, and he is going to visit her in Rye. She is seriously ill, and he has gone back to look after her while her husband in on business in the States.
“He has always had a hankering for a girlfriend he had in his teenage years, and he happens to bump into her when he is back home. He discovers that she is in an abusive relationship and wants help to get out of it.
“The story is all about trust and whether we can take a person at their own word and whether our memories of somebody we used to know are a reliable guide to how they are now…”
Graham has a set way of working: “I always have to have the whole thing planned out in detail before I start writing any of it.
“On the book before last, I knew that there were going to be 83 scenes before I wrote a single word.
“I knew what each scene was going to tell me about the character. I can know the characters inside out, but I have to remember to put in enough detail so that the readers are going to know them just as well.
“And I had exactly the same approach for this book. I had a year to do it, and I finished it this time last year, but I didn’t start writing until the December.
“I had eight months working it all out and then four months writing it. The rest of the time was getting Billy as a character, finding out what his weak spot is and finding a story that would test it.
“The way I look at it is that if you are going to go from Land’s End to John O’Groats, you work out your route, and if you set out and then don’t look at maps and at satnavs and so on, you might well end up in Canterbury that afternoon.
“You need to know where you are going, but that doesn’t mean that when you get to the Lake District you can’t take a little detour.
“But you have just always got to get back to the main route.”
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2