Stephen M Davis
Born 1957, East London
Growing up in the East End of London had its ups and downs. Still struggling to recover from WW2, austerity was high on the agenda. My grandfather grew fruit, vegetables, had ducks and chickens, all of which served as the main-stay of our diet. A glass of orange squash on a Sunday was the week’s highlight – poor-me. Far from it, I loved every minute. Even at 5-years-old, I would stay out ‘til it got dark, and felt safe, because I was. I learnt to appreciate the smallest of things, and to get my energy from the environment, rather than other people. I learnt respect and discipline from both my grandfather who worked on the River Thames, and my father who was in the military police. The only down side was my mother’s illness – schizophrenia and alcoholism – bless her.
At the age of 12, and with my mother permanently hospitalized, my father moved me to rural Essex. This was a good time for me, until the age of 16, when I was in a horrid house fire. It was suggested by the doctors, that my life hung in the balance, and so it proved. On the fourth day, for nine minutes, I was on the other-side. Hey, I was 16 and wasn’t ready to go yet, having too much to do and achieve.
This incident changed my view and perspective on everything. I did okay at school, with a low grade in English being the only downside. I loved drawing and with the help of my art tutor, gained a place in St John Cass Royal School of Art studying graphic communication and typography. I went on to become a graphic artist, something I detested, feeling I was prostituting a God-given ability. I loved art, but hated drawing what other people wanted. A relative, who worked for Royal Mail suggested I joined him, as shift work would allow me time to paint whatever I wanted. I did, and it gave me a regular income, freeing me to paint what I wanted to paint. My art has been described as a cross between Dali and Disney, similar to the rock album covers of the 70s.
Thirty-two years later, I was fortunate enough to retire early from a senior Royal Mail managerial position. Although I have never stopped painting, my artistic temperament was about to show its face in another unexpected way.
Now retired, I decided to write a book, primarily to improve my English. Ha, being a ‘bloke’ I thought let’s write a sci-fi book, ‘coz that’s what blokes do. I struggled with this, and although I completed it, was never comfortable with this gene. I am not surprised that it resulted in the usual ‘auto, thanks but no thanks,’ from literary agents. This though sent me on a mission to get it right.
I joined a couple of on-line and local literary groups. Aside from the magnitude of excellent English, a few other things jumped out at me. The first and still most important, was finding your written voice, and the second learning to trust your reader. There are many other aspects to a successful book, and in a nut shell, it involves having a great story, with lovable, believable characters.
After a lot of floating around in literary oblivion, I eventually found my voice. Unbeknown to me, Rebecca was there all along, waiting for me to find her. With her, came my voice, story, and genre. It has subsequently been suggested I write with a feminine influence. I don’t mind that tag, as it’s probably true.
They say that everyone has a book in them, and so it seems, with six-million independently published novels available on Amazon. I once read an author suggest it took them 20-years to become an overnight success, and I get that. However, if you are passionate, have a great story with believable characters, you can make this work.
Amazon has opened the door for aspiring authors, without prejudice or opinion. At first, it created some negativity, suggesting that door was open to the good, bad, and indifferent. Nevertheless, there is one master reviewer, the public who ultimately are the makers and breakers. Make no mistake that you the reader, and your reviews, be they good, bad, or indifferent result in the cream rising to the top.
I struggled when I first thought of using Amazon as a platform for my beloved Rebecca, frightened how she would be received. She has been in my head for so many years, and is far too important to me for her to end up on the slush pile. Eventually, with much encouragement from family and friends, I decided to let you, the public, the readers, the makers and breakers let the world know if you share my love for dear Rebecca.
It now seems I needn’t had worried, as you do indeed love my Rebecca, so much so, I have now completed Volume II, Rebecca – A Way Back. I do hope you enjoy her next instalment as much as you enjoyed Rebecca & the Spiral Staircase.
So, please let me know your views.