I wrote my first book when I was in my late fifties, it was never published. My second came at the age of sixty-two. It is being made into a Film.
Could that be an answer to that question; money, fame, adulation? Not for me, they were not my driving force, but if they are yours then read on, and see if you can do it. If I can, then perhaps you can too.
Let me introduce myself. I’m two years on from that age of first awareness into the intricacies of the publishing world and still pushing onwards and upwards, prising open closed doors as I go. I am, by vocation, a Licensed London Taxi Driver, driving the iconic ‘black cab’ around the congested streets of our Capital City, but I have been many things in my life. I was a Policeman, then a Licensee of three English Pubs, in one of which I was arrested for attempted murder, standing up to what I believed was right. I got away with it, but I haven’t tried it since, in case the ‘do-gooders’ in this world think more of the perpetrators of crime than the innocents. That incident was thirty odd years ago when sanity still had a voice in the world, I’m not sure what would happen today if I repeated it.
I had a steady life, one where I knew, more or less, my income and expenditure on a weekly basis. I could afford a modest to good standing of living, depending on how hard I wanted to work. That was until fate hit me hard where it hurt the most, in my pocket.
In November 2006 a van, driven irresponsibly, crashed into me and effectively put me out of paid work for almost four years. If you’ve got to this point in the story, and now are thinking…“are yes, he must have been paid thousands of pounds and stayed in the comfort of his home writing,” then you’re sadly wrong. I never received anywhere near what I lost, but I’m not going to bore you with details. That enforced time away from work was when I was dawn into writing and its brought me to where I am today.
The first story found an agent who sent if off to publishers who; ignored it. The agent gave me a choice. Go through the whole routine again, or self-publish with an established publisher who would do it all for you. At sixty-two, there was no choice as I saw it. If I wanted my work to be read then stuff the word ‘vanity’ and let’s get it done.
The Desolate Garden came out in March 2012, and has been likened, by reviewers, to The 39 Steps, by the Film Producer to amongst others The Constant Gardener and North By North-West and my writing, my Waterstones the largest book retailer in the UK, to Graham Greene. It wasn’t based on knowledge or experience as is the usual advice given, of ‘write of what you know about.’
The story is a spy, murder mystery and although admitting to being on both the right, and wrong side of the law, I had no first hand knowledge of murder nor spying. Mystery perhaps, as life can often be that, as I am now finding out once again.
It is a good story, but I wouldn’t say it’s a great literary work of art, my next will be. (that’s an attempt at a joke, the reverse of the normal self-effacing, stereotype English kind)
Your imagination is one of the greatest thing that God gave you, but it is a curse as well as a blessing. It is limited in scope, and can hold you back from taking that first step into the unknown.
Visualise yourself in a bookshop with your book staring back at you from a shelf, then move forward in time and see someone taking it to read, paying for what your imagination crafted. Take that step and enter the world that I have the great fortune to have discovered. Travel along the way that I tread.