The Story Behind The
It’s really a development of the two main
protagonists in the The Errant Petty Officer. I couldn't just leave them sailing off into the sunset without a follow on story. I wrote most of that first story on a small Caribbean
Island, so it was obvious where they would sail to next, especially after just having made the crossing myself.
The opening scene with the broken steering
gear is based on something that happened to me once while crossing the Bay of Biscay in a Gale. Whist in Grenada I also did some interesting research on the '82 Revolution and the US Invasion the
following year, and that inspired some of the back story. As to the darker elements of the story, that started with an interest in the scandal of Reagan's machinations over the Contras. I couldn't
understand why the President would involve himself so deeply with a bunch of Nicaraguan rebels.
Digging deeper I found its relationship with
the cocaine Cartels and his personal mission to break the trade routes through the Caribbean to the streets of the United States. And that provided me with the determinant for the story. I didn't set
out to make Patrick languish on a desert island for all that time, and I was surprised as anyone when it happened.
The Joy of Developing a
The single biggest thrill, disregarding
hubris, 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 as if somebody is whispering in your ear what to
Fans of my
Of course fans mean everything. I'm a great
admirer of 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
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's called The Balsam Children and is available on
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
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
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 plot. But my fascination for all things nautical started at that point and has been with me ever
My Reading Choices
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..
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
There will ultimately be a sequel to complete the Patrick Redman Trilogy, but first I'm
working on a supernatural thriller.