On why I started writing, and how I got to here from there.
It is over ten years since I began writing in earnest. I had been made redundant, and decided to turn my back on computers and technology, but needed something to occupy my time that didn’t involve hitting a golf ball or quaffing Rioja.
And so I decided to write, because I had always enjoyed the gift of gab, and had written hundreds of technical proposals, on computing and distributed data systems.
I foolishly believed that writing a novel would be a natural extension of all that. . . How wrong I was.
My first effort was a cathartic piece on how cruel and manipulative and downright nasty big business, and particularly big computer business, is. I spent over six months on it, and then gave it to a golfing friend for an opinion. . . I wonder what ever happened to him?
As you might imagine the work was appalling: florid, anachronistic, boring, whining, unstructured, grammatically poor and badly punctuated. . . and that was just the title.
But it served a purpose; it allowed me to vent my spleen, and understand some of the many areas in need of improvement.
And so for the next five years I wrote and submitted my work. I learnt to handle rejection, in its many guises, and slowly and surely improved my basic skills.
Then I started my first spy novel.
I had always enjoyed a fascination with the two World Wars, and subsequent Cold War, and decided to write about something I knew about, or thought I knew about.
The more I wrote, the more I researched, and the more fascinating the subject became.
When the work was finished, or so I naïvely believed, I heard that a local editor for a Swedish Men’s magazine was looking for a novel to serialize (no, not that sort of men’s magazine).
Olaf Otterson was the editor, and he and his lovely wife, another editor, kindly considered my work.
Olaf said the first two-hundred pages were the some of the best work he had ever read, but the next two hundred were utter dross. He loved the story. He loved the characters, but, when it came to structure, said I didn’t have a clue. He finally went with another ex-forces old hack called Andy McNab.
Olaf taught me it is often through rejection and failure that we learn the most about ourselves, and writing is no exception to that.
He also taught me that there is a basic craft to writing novels, which is every bit as important as the raw ability to write, and I will always be grateful to him and his wife for the time they spent helping me along, and setting me on the right path.