Ever since I can remember I’ve always enjoyed adventure books and movies of that genre. And when the stories occurred in remote parts of the world, the more enjoyment I reaped. I liked to be entertained, and still do.
That’s why I mostly write historical novels, stories set in another time another place. “The Guardians of Stavka” which I think is an undiscovered classic, starts in Georgia, the Russian empire in the late 1890s and concludes on the west coast of Canada in 1979. Number one, it took considerable research, after all the Georgian town was Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Number two, I see every chapter as if it’s a motion picture. It’s little wonder some fans note: “Your book feels just like a movie.”
Maybe it’s because my mind and heart was always with movies. When I was 16 and possessed a 9.5 millimeter camera, I gathered some friends and we made a 30 minute comedy silent. This was 1948 and England was still recovering from the war and things were still rationed. The story made several of the Fleet Street national newspapers.
In the meantime I had got my first big job – as a messenger at Gaumont British Animation – Moor Hall Studios at Cookham, near Maidenhead. “You’ll learn a lot,” said David Hand the producer. “It’ll be like going to university.”
Hand who had been technical director for Disney classics such as “Snow White,” “Bambi” and several others, was right. In two years I learned how to draw, paint and write. I also learned photography. Less than ten years later I earned an Honorable Mention for a News Photo in the British Press Pictures of the Year 1956. It was in Cyprus, the Mediterranean island. I spent 13 years in the war torn Middle East and even chalked up being an accredited war correspondent at the Suez War of 1956.
My experiences in Cyprus gave me the background for my first novel “Pentadaktylos” the heartbreaking story of a British Army Officer who returns to the Island after an 18 year absence to find he has a Greek Cypriot son – who is now a member of EOKA, fighting for independence. The boy is also a wanted killer group member. How the soldier tracks down his former lover and gets to his son is the intriguing story.
While hanging my hat in western Canada for thirty years I scripted some other novels, notably CATACLYSM ’79 which focuses on what happens when a mountain falls and blocks a major river. My novels sat in boxes for years until I had the energy and determination to re-write and publish them.
Recently I tackled a sci-fi book based on deep history from the Cuneiform tablets from Babylon and the Sumerians. Entitled “UNPLUGGED: The Return of the Fathers,” it is quite controversial. Some reviewers love it, others reject it and refuse to go on reading.
Finally, my fifth novel “For the Love of Rose: A Journey in Three Worlds” started as a short story. I felt I wanted to see some young people – teenagers growing up. After living eight years in Upstate New York near the Canadian border, I chose the nearby hamlet of Three Mile Bay. In its 200 years it has seen tremendous changes. Shipbuilding, fishing, stone quarrying and trains. Rail sleeping cars brought thousands of tourists fleeing New York City summer heat to the cooler climes of Three Mile Bay and Cape Vincent. For many years dairy farms and cheese factories flourished until the mid-1930s when the tourist numbers dwindle and the passenger trains finally stopped. Reasons? One, the Great Depression and two, apartment sized air conditioners became available in New York City.
It was in these changing times of the 1930s that I set my novel. Two brothers raised on a dairy farm. Frank meets and falls in love with a Long Island artist. Watched by the younger brother Jake, Frank and Rose’s relationship blossoms. Then everything changes. By year’s end Rose and her father are lost in Spain where the Civil War rages. Frank, borrows a passport and bravely goes off to find them. For many weeks, trekking through France and then the Pyrenees, and finally working as an ambulance driver, he matures.. Yes, he finds Rose but then the real challenges start. And that’s the story.
It disturbed me greatly to write the story which took on a life of its own. Using the “movie imaging” technique the writer gets directly involved with his or her cast. Does it help? I think so and so far the reviewers seem to appreciate it. Only time will tell. Life and writing are adventures. We should enjoy them and learn as much as we can.
Robert lives with his partner, Betty Lou and two chihuahuas, Satchmo and Bubba, in Pemberton, New Jersey and also Chaumont, Northern New York where they conduct workshops on higher consciousness, dowsing and Earth energies.