It seems like months in the making, and it was all going really smoothly until I started trying to publish the hardcover, then it all went wrong. But, this is launch day, and the book my father didn’t want to write, but dictated anyway, has finally been published.
Didn’t want to write? Well, this is how he started the first tape:
One of the journalists with whom I’d been talking about Imperial Airways commented “That’s a good story, but I can’t use it. Why don’t you write your own memoirs?”
I thought about it for a while, and turned it over in my mind but decided I couldn’t possibly write a book…. What with all the writing and checking and tightening it finishes so hard and fast and rigid, it’s not a story at all; so I decided to do these tapes to get the record straight.
I knew he’d been dictating them. Apart from the fact he showed me, I also caught him in the act a couple of times. He’d sit in the sitting room, reminiscing and recounting his well-honed stories, since most of them we’d heard over the dinner table as kids, and some we asked for again and again (mostly how he and my mother got married). The grandfather clock that used to belong in my mother’s parents’ house stood in the corner and chimed the quarters, and it echoed on the tapes, too. Sometimes I could hear the clink of a teaspoon in a teacup, and he’d say “Thanks, love,” and I knew my mother had just brought him a cup of tea!
It took me five years to start listening to them after he died, and it was strange to hear his voice again, at first. But I enjoyed transcribing them, and got wrapped up in the stories again, sorting things out and double-checking. The photos were hard at first, since hardly any had captions or dates. It’s funny to think that now, because I know the story so well I can fill in the gaps, and I can also see the transition of the boy to man during his ten years with Imperial Airways. I am most grateful to all those who got involved in the project once I started putting the transcripts online, not least my brother James, Professor Gordon Pirie, and the late Aileen Druce, who was the only one who could fill in the gaps at the end of the story. I’m glad I met her when I was a teenager, and pleased to have included a photo of her in the book. The mystery left is why my aunts had pictures of her in those war years, when she and my Mum met in Cairo through their husband’s postings. It is a strange world we live in!
Now White Water Landings is available as a kindle ebook as well as paperback and hardcover formats. I hope Blurb has now accepted that it has the hardcover’s authors listed in the wrong order, and can help the stores tie all three versions up.
We have two reviews already, and look forward to receiving many more. They will be listed and linked, where appropriate, on the White Water Landings website.
Book Launch Special
I’m giving away four copies of the ebook to commenters on the blog between now and the end of next week (midnight EST on the 23rd), during which there is a cover war on AuthorShout, and I’d like you to vote for White Water Landings. I’ll be posting more instructions about that next Monday.
I might even manage to assemble some swag for one lucky winner!
Just say hello or wish the book luck or something, and click the entry in the rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway