I have always been creative. As a teenager, I was writing music, and indeed one piece I wrote was stolen by the publishers in that they rejected it,but it came out as a single a few months later - obviously with in-house composers. Never mind, at that age I had no chance of even starting a lawsuit so they got away with it. But it did get into the top twenty, which in the sixties was no mean feat.
I didn't really do any serious writing of words as such until the late eighties, when following a divorce I wanted to try to figure out what was going wrong and I wrote an autobiography - now lost, by the way. My first real attempt was in the mid-nineties, when following a series of bizarre events, including noticing the strange relationship and behaviour of a couple we knew, I built characters based upon the couple and wrote a comic tale which was part fiction, part fact.
I did send it to a publishing agent, but he very gently and kindly rejected it. I still have this tale, and periodically (usually between books), revive it and do a little work on it. It has merit, but the writing does need a little work and the whole thing would benefit from bringing it forward from the 1990's to the twenty first century. There is a sample of this here. But this, remember, still needs work.
In the beginning part of this century, I was working in a town called 'Wigston' on the outskirts of Leicester. It is not awash with famous characters, but I learned of one, a highwayman called George Davenport who terrorised the highways and byways in the late eighteenth century. When I later sold my business, I found myself with time on my hands, and I researched him; I found that it was a fascinating tale, and indeed that George himself was actually a likeable fellow. So I wrote a novel about him, written first person, i.e. from his perspective.
This, it emerges, was a major mistake. A book written first person tends to be somewhat linear, as it is all from the one perspective and limits the threads one can introduce to what he would know. But I still had faith in the book, and after several rejections I published it in November 2011 on Smashwords, later releasing it on Amazon as well. However, it has not exactly set the world on fire and has yet to recover the editing fees, let alone the research costs. But it's not really about the money.
Now I needed a new subject to write about, and despite urgings from my wife to write a crime thriller, I decided to stay with the genre I knew; no-one likes to be ridiculed, and by writing a book you open yourself up to ridicule because it is all too easy to make factual mistakes. This means that if you want to write a book, it has to be on a subject which you know better than the vast majority of your readers.
I'd already covered George Davenport but along the way, I had assembled an impressive library of books about highwaymen. Indeed, other than Dick Turpin, I think I have every book on highwaymen published in the past fifty years, and a few from before then. I excluded Dick Turpin because he has been thoroughly well covered already, usually casting him as a hero - were he around today, he would almost certainly be languishing in jail serving a 'life means life' sentence, he was such a brutal thug.
But I studied the books on highwaymen and found them a rich source of fascinating events. Unfortunately, most were in the singular, in that a highwayman would commit a robbery in an interesting way, be caught and hung. Not much of a story there. But I noticed one man in particular who had left home in his teens, had adventures in London, then become a highwayman, with numerous excellent story lines.
His name was Captain James Hind, and I finished this book in early February, 2014. It took until November to find the right publisher, and then a further eight months to get to the publication stage in July 2015.
I was urged to write a sequel to 'The Prince of Prigs' and so rich was his life that I was quite quickly able to sketch out a storyline, and indeed have written about 20% of the book. But I stopped in order to write another tale, 'By Presidential Order' about the American Presidency, Time Travel and Jesus Christ. There is more information about this here.
I know a renowned photographer Clive Arrowsmith who kindly consented to take these pictures of me in full highwayman costume. All images are obviously his copyright
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