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19 September 2013 - Falcon now available...

After a few iterations of draft - correction - draft etc. "Falcon" finally got off the ground as both an ebook and a paperback. I hope that the readers of "Finishing School" will enjoy it. "Falcon" covers the next chapter in the lives of MacKay's crew and allows the reader to consider what might have happened if the various practitioners in wartime high-tech had got together on a truly advanced weapon. It was great fun to write, and hopefully will be just as much fun for people to read.

12 July 2013 - A return to communication...

Well, this is probably the longest blog tea-break in history. Since my last entry in 2008 a lot has happened, but I was too preoccupied with with things to actually get back to the blog and share them. So, let's catch up...

At the time of my last entry, I had just started work on "Finishing School", which I intended to be a thoroughly convincing novel about a Lancaster crew. First of all I had to decide upon a scenario, and I eventually settled upon the period during which a bomber crew learnt to operate the Lancaster bomber. As ever, once I had embarked upon the research, new lines of enquiry opened up, but I managed to tie up all the loose ends and produce a tale that I thought should pass muster. It took a few years to write and to validate the history and technology of the period, but the research paid off and, thanks to the veterans of Bomber Command I had managed to talk to, the story came across most convincingly.

So, the book became available on Kindle, but a paperback version is also available on Lulu for those who still own bookshelves...

I then set to work on the sequel, "Falcon", which has been produced in a record eighteen months. This will also be available on Kindle and Lulu very soon (final edit in progress) and was again liked by the ex-Bomber Command bods.

But on the side, I managed to do a few other things; like firing a Brown Bess musket last month. A wonderful experience to see the clouds of smoke and feel the thump of the butt in the shoulder. I did not hit the target, but I did manage to hit Hampshire.

And on the aviation side, a couple of weeks ago I had the great privilege of meeting Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, the world's most experienced test pilot. Very fit at 94, with a razor sharp brain, and with a fund or reminiscences that kept us fascinated during the interview and at lunch afterwards. I think that the words "we shall not see his like again..." are apt.

18 March 2008 - The remote-controlled helicopter

Over the weekend I succumbed to a long-standing temptation. Seeing a remote-controlled helicopter on sale at half price I bought it, and the next day I tried it out. Of course, 22.00 at night is not a good time to fly a scale model outside so I parked it on the kitchen floor and slowly wound up the power. Lesson 1; the helicopter skids need to be on something rough - my first attempt just made the helicoper spin around on the lino like Jane Torvil on speed. So, I gave up the attempt for the evening.

Next morning, I took the helicopter out to the back lawn. On winding up the power I found that the longish grass, uncut over the winter, was stopping the tail rotor from turning. So, after inserting a twig under the rear part of the skids I tried again. Result! The helicopter rose from the lawn with the grace of a hummingbird - only to then shoot off at a tremendous rate of knots towards the rear wall of the house. As the helicopter approached the first story roof I cut the power and let it bounce harmlessly off the slates and into next door's garden.

"Um, hi, Anne; can I have my helicopter back?"

The reply is not worth recounting.

Next attempt will be the park - watch this space...

1 March 2008 - Louis de Bernieres in Winchester

This afternoon, Louis de Bernieres was in the Theatre Royal in Winchester, in conversation with Guy Pringle of 'newbooks'. It was a fascinating session, with Louis recounting stories from his early life and how he first got into writing. (A few interesting comments concerning the making of the film version of 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' - a cautionary tale for any writers who might find themselves 'seeing their babies having their ears put on backwards'. In recent decades, only JK Rowling seems to have had the clout to insist on an accurate translation to screen of her books.) The message I took away from the event was the importance of accurate research - factual mistakes in a book can cause so much trouble...
Overall a brilliant event.

1 February 2008 - At the Stamford Book Festival

Arrived at the Stamford Arts Centre at 18.30 and set up the table; Black Watch tartan tablecloth; tall display stand with the three titles well in view; laptop with a powerpoint presentation of old RAF bits and pieces running; and a scattering of books and bookmarks. Grabbed glasses of fizzy stuff to keep out the cold.

Quite a varied bunch of writers and their works; poetry, children's books, thrillers, food recipes, and regional and rural interest. At about 19.45 we started giving readings from our books; all quite fascinating and enjoyable, and before the evening was out the first books had been sold.

Saturday morning we started again at 10.00. A bit of a slow start - the weather was not tempting anyone out - but the tutorial sessions on writing and publishing attracted a healthy audience. Endless cups of Arts Centre coffee (quite good, actually) to keep us on our feet and chatting to some very interesting visitors. Lincolnshire has of course a very strong link with WWII aviation and a large proportion of visitors to my stand wondered whether I had anything in the way of Lancasters on offer.

Not yet - but it is coming in the next book! In fact, courtesy of those kind folks at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, I had spent that very morning crawling around the innards of their Lancaster bomber. It looks big from the outside, but once you get into the crew positions you realise just how tightly engineered the aircraft was - even for the people who flew in it.

Packed up a little before 17.00 to scout out somewhere interesting to eat; and found a South American restaurant down an allyway which came up with some great grilled chicken. Back to the hotel for a nightcap.

Verdict: great fun! Authors are a good crowd to be around. Looking forward to the next one...

31 January 2008 - Getting ready for the Stamford Book Festival

The Book Festival in Stamford, Lincolnshire, starts at the Arts Centre on the evening of Friday, 1st of February, and runs throughout Saturday. So, off tomorrow with a crate of books and a few other bits and pieces. Wine and nibbles provided for the people attending the Friday event! Might be required to read a sample of the book(s), so must remember to take a swig of Worcester Sauce beforehand to achieve the full Richard Burton effect.

29 January 2008 - The Dam Busters

Going through my collection of old videos I came across "The Dam Busters" and decided to watch it again.

What a masterpiece it is. Fifty-three years has not dulled its brilliance, and I wonder what the remake will be like. My first thought is that technically and historically it will probably be spot-on; in this regard there is probably not a safer pair of hands than those of Peter Jackson. His attention to detail and his love of aviation will probably demand nothing less than perfection; and the special effects will clearly be way ahead of those of the mid-'fifties. All he needs now is a truly credible screenplay and some actors who can portray the personalities involved. For the original film, Richard Todd spoke to Gibson's relatives and, being an ex-serviceman, knew how to act the part; and was a dead ringer for Gibson to boot! A hard act to follow.

Like every aviation film enthusiast, I await the final product with some impatience...

27 January 2008 - Launch of Blog

Today marks the inception of the Caird Publications Blog. This is a place for my own random jottings and for any relevant content sent in by visitors. So, don't be shy!


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