I was an avid reader of fictional and historical books when I was a child. These included classics such as Wind in the Willows, with Toad of Toad Hall, by Kenneth Grahame, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Stig of the Dump by Clive King and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
However, things were about to change. At twelve years old I went to my secondary school and I remember one day being in the tiny library and looking through the tatty, old fiction section. All of the books looked well read, or at least well worn. I came across two books which took my interest. Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes and a book I had never heard of before, There’s No Escape by Ian Serraillier. I’m not sure what attracted me to the latter, I think it was the picture on the front that intrigued me. Even now it is still the cover of a book that hooks me first. I took both books out and read them quickly. Though I greatly enjoyed Tom Brown, it was the exciting novel, There’s No Escape, that had a profound effect on me with its tales of spies and wartime adventure in the mountainous, fictitious country of Silvania. I always felt that Silvania was one of those collection of countries in that mysterious, hidden part of Europe, the Balkans.
My reading habits, from that point on, were changed forever. I had become an avid reader of spy, crime, adventure and thriller novels. I can remember many a day, spent happily trolling through the dusty, second hand book shops of London in the 1970s looking for new victims of my reading hunt. Since then I have always preferred second hand books and have never been a convert to e-books. I don’t know why this is but maybe it is the dusty smell of these novels or their age that adds a certain temptation. Possibly it is the thought of the countless others who, on trains, on buses, in libraries or in bed, have read the book that I now read. People I will never know, but who I share a common bond with.
Then the inevitable happened. Yes, I’m afraid so. I came to the realisation that I too had a book in me. This is something that has dogged me ever since. The nagging idea, that I have some idea inside me that others wish to read about. Sadly, despite many attempts, the dream has never been realised. I now feel that I am no longer the scribe, but am destined to be the fan instead.