Danny Kemp Author of The Desolate Garden.
I’m a 62 year old, second time round married man, who almost twenty years ago inherited a ready made family of two children, one of each gender. They were young teenagers who, like most of their age, thought they knew it all until they met me who DID know it all. We all survived, they showing me that I was wrong, and hopefully, I was able to teach them tolerance and understanding which I too began to learn. My wife Patricia and I now have three adorable grandchildren who take up most of our time and all of our dwindling money.
I’m vain, so talking about myself here should come easily. My father died when I was sixteen leaving me, his only child, with my mother who was the partially sighted, (she later went blind.) I believe that I had been a disappointment to both of them, as my Grammar School education taught me little other than being moderately good at Cricket and being the best open side wing forward never to play Rugby for England.
For some, even now, unexplainable reason to me, I changed from a Deck Chair kicking Mod [I buried my purple hearts amongst the stones on Brighton Beach before kicking them. It was the SIXTIES after all] into a Metropolitan Police Cadet. I had found responsibility as a different track to follow than being a dedicated follower of fashion.
I graduated on to become a fully fledged Police Constable and found another side to myself. I wanted not only to be the Sheriff in rounding up the bad guys but also I wanted to be the Judge and administer the punishment. I saw too much injustice and the sorrow that it caused to continue doing my job. Criminals in my opinion were better looked after than those who had suffered at their hands, so I handed in my papers and left.
I bought a Mini-Cab business in Bermondsey, South East London found out that I liked it, so progressed to do the Knowledge and became a London Black Taxi Driver. That was nearly thirty-eight, flying past, years ago now and I’m still doing it when time allows.
Somewhere in the middle of those years I found time to acquire three Public Houses, all around the Maidstone area of Kent, becoming a fat obnoxious alcoholic and got divorced, now that must come as a surprise. Nowadays I no longer drink having the dubious pleasure of watching others make the same mistakes as I had: I remain sober whilst they have their fun.
Some five years on now from a fine sunny November morning near the Old Bailey, I was involved in a Road Traffic Accident. A strange, over used, word for indifference, incompetence or down right disregard, that left me traumatized and effectively out of work for three years.
I began to write.
My first attempt ‘Look Both Ways Then Look Behind,’ had a woman as its central character. Natalia Morrenti, the youngest daughter of a wealthy powerful Italian dynasty. I tried to tell it as a first person narrative she explaining her life to her estranged husband she left literary holding their son when he was three months old. It had all the usual Mafia links, taking place in Southern Italy, America and Kenya. I found an interested agent who sent it off to the top fifteen publishing houses ( aiming too high in hindsight ) and although not receiving one bad comment, it wasn’t wanted. I almost then gave up. I was unable to work, depressed by that inability and now unwanted.
I heard a phrase in my head “Tell me a joke” She said. From that introduction I crafted The Desolate Garden. I use the word crafted, deliberately, as I came to find that is indeed a craft, to write, one in which you improve the more you do it. There is still room in my head for improvement, much, particularly with punctuation, but I’m loving looking inside it to find the tools, editors being an essential one.
When I was fit and young, and never touched anything stronger than a slime-line bitter lemon, I was an incessant reader, grabbing handfuls of books at book-fairs where every one smelt musty. Not only the books but the others there with their avid attention and rain sodden coats.
I read everyone from Boris Pasternak and George Orwell to J K Jerome and A A Milne, my favourites lay somewhere in the middle of the sublime and ridiculous. John Le Carré, Wilbur Smith and John Fowles. I loved the intrigue, the mystery and the depth of those writers, and somewhere their influence stayed in my memory until it was reopened with that line; ”Tell me a joke.”
I’ve fallen in Love with writing and want to spend every waking hour developing characters into believable tangible objects that leap from a page and say. “Hello, this is me, do I know you?” I Love not knowing where the story wants to take me, sometimes having to adjust what’s gone before to achieve that end that is always beckoning, but never reached until you’re closing in and the structure has been laid and built upon.
I’m currently working on a third novel ‘Mitzy Collins’ a moralistic tale of how the death of a sixteen year old girl impacts on all that knew her as well ‘Mitzy’ who didn’t, but knew all those who tried to cover up the truth. The story is told from a third person perspective, her dead twin brother, who got caught up in the conspiracy and paid the ultimate price, death.
There is a thing that I don’t enjoy about writing and that is the promotional side of it. I’m an unknown in this trade, spending all my time in raising this mythical profile, a necessary evil if all my aspirations are to come true.
I want to write full time and as a consequence become a well read Author enjoyed and shared by many. I’ve left it late in my life to achieve that end but as I often say; “I’m following a dream and as far as I know there are no rules in a dream.”