So what am I doing here?
So what am I doing here?
It started in a grubby cinema seat in a grubby cinema in a grubby seaside town in 1970. I was a grubby eight-year-old boy and I sat open-mouthed in front of a sparkling Technicolour movie. Before my eyes the very foundations of British life and society were defended from tyranny by dashing, devil-may-care pilots riding in sleek, powerful fighter-planes. The film, The Battle of Britain, instilled a life-long fascination for the events of 1940, although my own ambition to become a Spitfire pilot one day was cruelly snatched away by the progress of aviation technology.
In my late teens I discovered one of The Few had grown up in my home-town and was buried in our local graveyard. Taking basic career information from available listings (in books, mind you, this was way before the internet) I started to research the life and times of this man and the Squadron in which he flew.
In the summer of 2001 I started to plot and write a work of fiction based on the true life story of my hometown hero. I managed to get half the story down in 38,000 words. My writing, at that time, was not of publishable standard and so there I left it, sitting on my hard-drive, neglected and forgotten... until January 2016.
Finding myself with time on my hands, during what could be described as a lull between careers, I opened the file and re-read my script. What I read made my toes curl, it certainly had a long way to go to impress a potential publisher. But I felt I had acquired the skills necessary to take it there...
So the re-write began, pruning the 38,000 words of my original text down to 28,000 and editing chapter by chapter as I wrote. Then the new writing began and the second half of the story took shape. By early May the first draft was finished, weighing in at 83,000 words. I dived straight into the first full edit. By the end of May my novel, entitled Bluebirds stood at a shade under 77,000 words.
I sent the manuscript to half-a-dozen beta readers. While I waited for their reports I ran a second edit. Then, having received consistently good feedback from my beta readers, I began the long process of finding a way onto a publisher's list.
In September of 2016 I stumbled across Endeavour Press Ltd. Their website boasted an "Aviation Fiction" list. I sent them a short pitch. A full manuscript was duly requested and after a month of tense waiting I received a contract offer for publication. It seemed that Bluebirds had found its spiritual home.
I was born in Wells-Next-The-Sea on the North Norfolk coast and spent my first 26 years in the town. I was educated at Wells Primary and Fakenham Grammar School, worked in my family’s painting and decorating firm (established by my grandfather, Harry, on his return to Wells after the war) and then in the nearby animal-feed plant at Egmere. In 1988, a three-month stint on an inshore shrimp-trawler ended in a force-ten gale and a rescue by the Wells Offshore Lifeboat (assisted by an Inshore Lifeboat and a Sea King helicopter).
Hanging up my sea-boots, I moved to London in search of safer employment and spent the next 18 years working in import and distribution, purchasing, company administration, interior design and project management.
After developing skills in internet marketing and search-engine-optimisation, I took advantage of work-from-home technology and moved to the picturesque medieval town of Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, arriving just in time to be involved in the major flooding in 2007.
Following a move to Kent, I helped to run a micro-pub and fledgling brewery, concentrating on research and development of historic beer styles.
I returned to Wells in early 2015 and completed my first novel, based on the life and times of a local war-hero.