Why I write
Writing for me is an endless adventure into the imagination, a passion that whiles away the times between voyages, languishing at anchor or tied up in marinas in the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands. I don’t strive for 'Best Seller' status, just hope my books are read and enjoyed by others. My stories are life-affirming adventures, often with a seagoing theme, a strong psychological slant, and sometimes venturing into the supernatural. I always develop a personal relationship with my characters, whom I believe form the backbone of any good story.
The Joy of Developing a Story
The single biggest thrill is seeing the story unfold as if you're reading something for the first time. Until I started my first full length novel I hadn't discovered the magic of not knowing what happens next, and then gasping with surprise at what appears on the page. While I'm in that creative bubble I frequently blurt out 'Gosh, I didn't expect that!' It's like some storytelling demon is whispering in your ear what to write next.
Fans of my Books
Of course fans mean everything. I'm a great admirer of the late Terry Pratchett and used to attend his Discworld weekend conventions in Wincanton, England. Aficionados from all over Europe used to converge on the small town for that annual event, many dressed up as characters from the novels. And there were, and still are, a great many Discworld events happening worldwide. That kind of fan loyalty is surely what every novelist aspires to. It not only gets books flying off the shelves, but it inspires the author to ever greater achievements.
The First Story I Wrote
It was a short ghost story set in the Falkland Islands. The idea came from a journal I wrote about my experience on a visit to see the wildlife on Sea Lion Island. It was called The Balsam Children but has recently been rewritten and published as Diddle Dee.
My father was in the RAF and met my German mother during the allied occupation just after WWII. From the age of two we moved around various military bases in Europe, rarely staying anywhere for
than a year or so. I went to British Forces schools until I was ten, when my Dad retired from the RAF and we settled in Leeds. As soon as I could leave school (fifteen in those days) I ran away to
sea and spent twenty five years in the Royal Navy.
Never staying anywhere long enough to make lasting friendships was probably what drove me first to reading, but very soon to writing as well - I believe the one inspires the other. All that travelling left me with the legacy of itchy feet, and that's why travelling and exotic locations features so heavily in my work.
The Impact of my Early Reading
I was an avid reader as a child, but one set of stories remains in my memory, though I can't remember the titles or who wrote them. They were sea stories about the adventures of a salvage tug captain working around Malaysia and Indonesia. I couldn't have been much older that ten at the time and I don't even remember much about the plots. But my fascination for all things nautical started at that point and has been with me ever since.
My Reading Choices Today
In truth I rarely read purely for pleasure these days, though I do draw pleasure from my reading. Because I read mainly to improve my own writing I'm very eclectic in my choices. I read fiction: sea adventures and historical naval novels, quirky books with subtle humour, good thrillers (and sometimes badly written ones), and some crime fiction, and some science fantasy/fiction..
My Favourite Authors
I have many favourites, but I'll just mention a few whose work I find particularly inspiring. I love Pratchett for his sense of fun, pathos, and the credibility he engenders for what is basically a preposterous concept. In a similar vein I enjoy Neil Gaiman's novels, though I'm disappointed he hasn't been anywhere as prolific in his output. For action scenes and complex plot chicanery I draw inspiration from Ian Rankin, Lee Childs, and of course the late great Stieg Larsson. Another great Swedish writer is Jonas Johansson whose simple and direct voice and style is endearingly easy to read, and his stories are extraordinary and memorable. Of my recent readings, Gillian Flynn's Girl Gone and Andy Weir's The Martian, though at opposite ends of the genre spectrum, are great examples of a fresh and modern style with explosive impact.
The Next NovelThere will ultimately be a sequel to complete the Patrick Redman Trilogy, but first Amanda Wheelhouse (a pen name) is working on her sequel to Girl on a Boat.
This short story by Mike Rothery is dedicated to the South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA 82) and all royalties from sales will acrue to this Registered Charity.
In July 2015 I went to Greece to move onto my yacht, Island Spirit with the intention of sailing far and wide while continuing to write novels. Here you can catch up with the story so far…