Island Spirit, in Cape Verdi Islands
preparing to cross the Atlantic (December 2016)
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. 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. I am a self-published author under my own imprint, Weatherdeck Books.
In earlier lives I served in the Royal Navy and then helped to run a software company.
All my novels have an element of the nautical in them. That is because I have lived a great part of my life on the green & crinkly.
It all started with...
I began reading books, I mean reading them for enjoyment, from the age of ten. My Dad had recently retired from the RAF and we were living with my grandparents in their little terraced house in a Yorkshire mining village. My parents had not been great readers, so books had not been part of our family life.
But here, thanks to my grandma’s bulging bookshelves, I had access to a wealth of literature: from nineteenth-century classics to modern popular fiction. The first book that truly engaged me was Outcast Robin by L. T. Meade, a children’s book from 1901. That novel got me hooked for life on the written story.
As with most avid readers, the notion that I too could write began to nag me. I started to explore this possibility in the navy, writing letters to friends and family with accounts of places visited and adventures experienced. After the navy my urge to write was poured into creating promotional and technical literature for my software company. But throughout those years there was always an itch in me that was begging to be scratched: I wanted to write a novel. Thus I retired at age sixty-two with a sharp pencil and an imagination ablaze with ideas. I churned out six novels in as many years, submitting each to all the principal literary agents. I then got on with the next story while I waited for the offers to roll in. Of course, all that ‘rolled in’ over the next few months were polite rejections with no reasons given.
Undeterred - and convinced my brilliance must ultimately win recognition - I continued submitting to agents. At the same time, I hedged my bets by self-publishing online at Amazon and other eBook outlets. Despite investing my dwindling resources on various marketing efforts, my 'excellent novels' failed to gain traction in what I realised was an increasingly crowded marketplace. And the rejection emails continued to roll in. In the main, my only readers were family and friends: all their kind and applauding reviews were met by the reading masses with mild indifference.
So what was wrong? Put crudely, my head was up my arse. I was so convinced of my unique penmanship that I failed to see why my work wouldn't streak past all those losers who thought they could write. Okay, maybe I could think up a great story. But could I write it in a way the reader would find engaging? No! It took another three years for me to realise that my handful of loyal readers were far too polite to criticise my amateurish narrative style.
I needed to learn my craft
So, in October 2019, I began studying Creative Writing with the Open University. By March, I had learned enough to feel embarrassed by my published works – even ashamed – and took down all my books from Amazon and elsewhere. As my new skills grew, I began the task of rewriting them, starting with Ocean of Delusions, and in August 2020, published ‘To Run Before the Sea’ (Rosie Winterbourne Book 1). My next OU module was in English Literature. During this time, I began reworking the next Rosie Winterbourne story. This I released as ‘The Travel Agent’ (Rosie Winterbourne Book 2) in December 2020. I also found the time (due to lockdown) to rewrite ‘Bicentenary Boy’. I published that as ‘The Missing Centuries of Joseph Horne (1739-1952)’ in January. All my other stories will reappear, rewritten and with new titles, during 2021. Rosie Winterbourne Book 3, ‘The Conflicted Bride’ is scheduled for early Summer.
What about Covid 19?
For a writer of course, solitude is a necessity, but the involuntariness of the current restrictions is rather different - as if societal life is indefinitely withdrawn from us. It certainly feels unnatural. And I can't be the only novelist who is wondering just how this crisis and its effects on society is going to pan out in realist fiction set in the year 2020 and, probably, beyond. Will our heroes go around wearing facemasks and staying two-metres apart? No casual sex scenes, then??? The imagination quales.
Mini Bio: Michael Rothery was born in 1949, in Yorkshire, England, and lived his first ten years at various military bases in France, Germany and Northern Ireland. The family returned to Yorkshire when his father retired from the RAF in 1960. Michael joined the Royal Navy in 1965 and served in various ships until 1990, when he embarked on a new career in software development. Retiring in 2010 he returned to the sea where he began his writing career. He now cruises the oceans in his yacht, Island Spirit.