1. Greetings, can you tell us a little bit about your history and how your work has evolved up to this point?
One of the biggest thrills of my life has been taking up my new pastime of writing books. I would never have guessed it could be so stimulating and satisfying. I was a journalist and public relations executive so I should have realized earlier in life that my penchant for the pen could be extended to authorship but that actually took until I was 68 years old.
2. What genre, or genres, do you write?
3. What is your latest book called and what is it about?
My only published book is Tread Carefully on the Sea. It’s set in the pirate-infested Caribbean of the 1700s. The Royal Navy is just beginning to get the upper hand when the worst of the buccaneers, Captain Flint, commits his worst crime – and makes his biggest mistake – by kidnapping the Governor of Jamaica’s niece. That leads to all sorts of drama including conspiracy, murder, cannonades, bare-knuckles boxing, disease and a devastating storm.
BTW – Anybody who recognizes the name Captain Flint will have guessed that Tread Carefully on the Sea is a prequel to the great classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
4. What was the inspiration for your book? When did you first get the idea for Tread Carefully on the Sea?
I had my first go at a book some time in the 1970s. It had been in my head since childhood that a prequel was needed to Treasure Island. So I wrote one. I wasn’t impressed with it, put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Then years later, my schoolboy son Matthew read Treasure Island and I told him I’d written the prequel. At his request I read it to him. When he was in his 20s he asked to read it again. I was ashamed to give him the old sub-standard job so I started re-writing. This time I did all the historical research and gradually put together a bunch of characters and a plot that, I thought, worked. It became my first published book, Tread Carefully on the Sea.
5. How long did it take you to write it? What is your writing process like?
I think the writing took three years. It did flow reasonably well but a lot of that time was spent on research. There was so much to get right: places; 18th Century events and customs; clothes; ships; weapons; currency; food; medicine. The list goes on.
My writing process is to grab time when I can, which can be anytime during night or day, but I work in two-hour stints. I don’t have a longer concentration span. Whenever I get stuck on something, I escape to emails or social media, then return to the book.
6. What can we expect from you in the future?
Three more books. (Yes I’m working on them all at once.) They’re all historical novels but the similarity ends there. The one nearest completion is a story set in ancient Rome. Like Tread Carefully on the Sea, it took an enormous amount of research. It’s based around actual events as recorded by the Roman chronicler, Livy. Another of the books is set in the 1960s, a decade rightly known for its social revolution. But there was a darker side: everyone thought the world was about to end and the drama takes place against the background of the UFO hysteria of that time. The third book is a police/crime thriller set in the 1970s.
7. Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?
Hard question. I’ve enjoyed writing all four books that I’ve worked on so far. I will tell you my favorite character. When I wrote my Roman story, “The Dust of Cannae” (not yet published), I had this nagging feeling that there was something missing. Then I realized that it was not something, but somebody. This woman came into my head and told me she should be in the narrative. So I obliged. She then told me by telepathy what her role would be and she just kept on driving the story. I don’t think I have a psychic receptor but it really was like someone else had taken control to the extent of becoming a co-author. Maybe she was real and had waited more than two thousand years for her story to be told (?)
8. Do you plot ahead of time, or do you let the plot emerge as you write?
I get an idea for the premise, then think about the people who would be involved. From that, I start writing – with no idea where the story’s going to go. Half the fun is finding out for myself what’s going to happen. I try to draw believable characters, put them in situations, and then I talk to them. I ask them how they would react in those circumstances. They answer me and the action follows from that. It might lead to tragedy or a happy ending. I won’t know until I get there. So it’s rather like writing the book and reading it at the same time.
9. Who are some of your favorite authors to read? Favorite books?
My favorite author is the oldest one in the world (I think). He was Homer, writer of The Iliad and The Odyssey. I believe those works set the standard for what a book should be and it’s still today’s formula. Scenario, heroes, villains, ups and downs, love, cruelty, tragedy, triumph, conspiracy, tension, what’s gonna happens, fast-flowing prose, all wrapped up in a beginning, middle and end.
My other favorite books are:
· The Early History of Rome by Livy (fascinating and the best historical record of the kingdom, republic and empire)
· Warriors of the Dragon Gold by Ray Bryant (my brother)
· Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
10. Where can we buy your books?
Any links you'd like to include:
Buy link: http://amzn.to/1zs9ebu
Character name: Captain Flint
Book name: Tread Carefully on the Sea
“Captain Flint, it’s good of you to give time to a journalist. Do you mind if I ask you some blunt questions?”
"Not if you don't mind some sharp answers."
“Okay, I see you have your cutlass there and I wouldn't want you to answer me with that. Anyway, first question. Could you describe yourself?”
"I have black eyes and I'm told they're quite intimidating. They're on you now."
“Yes, uh, they're quite charming. Could we change the subject? I hear you're quite a sportsman.”
"I enjoy archery. I'm a bit tired of conventional targets. In “Tread Carefully on the Sea” I shoot a man in the head."
“Oh, that must have been in self defense.”
"No, I just wanted to make an example of him."
“It must be hazardous being a pirate but I expect you get a lot of fan mail.”
"Quite a few ghosts seem to have a sneaking respect for me."
“Well that is unusual. Who do you most admire?”
"Anyone who's still alive after I meet them."
“Um, Captain Flint, you don't mind me being here, do you? I mean, I'll leave if I'm taking up too much of your time.”
"Too late. We've up-anchored since you arrived."
“Oh dear, where are we going?”
"Ultimate destination - Hell. But before that we'll be making a stop at Purgatory."
I had a good career. I was in the team that launched one of the UK’s first computer-prepared daily newspapers. Later I moved from journalism into public relations and had the privilege of working on behalf of Margaret Thatcher. I promoted one of her revolutionary parliamentary Bills and I also handled communications with the world’s media after the bombing in Brighton that so easily could have killed her.
Where do you live?
A small town called Frome in Somerset, England. It’s a traditional market town with quaint streets and a lot going on. One of England’s best cities, Bath, is 30 minutes’ drive away and I’m quite near the famous Glastonbury. It’s a lovely spot.
Who is the most important person in your life?
My wife, Stephanie.
What was your childhood like?
My parents were the best of people. I felt secure, although we moved around a lot. I spent some of my early years in England, some in Australia. I was good at English but dumb with numbers. I use a calculator for anything beyond 1+1. My two brothers were much older than me and frequent moves meant that I didn’t establish many friendships, so I think I became quite self-sufficient and a bit of a loner.
Here’s an anecdote which I think captures our family atmosphere:
I was once sent to bed without my night-time drink for some misdemeanor at an early age. My parents independently took pity on me and met each other on the stairs, both having decided to sneak that night-time drink to my bedroom.
Of all the people you've met, who would you LEAST like to be stuck in an elevator with?
I won’t name names. The answer is any except three of my former bosses.
What is the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?
I am blessed with a wonderful family. My wife Stephanie and I have been married for forty years. We are proud of our two children Matthew and Melanie, grandsons Henry and Toby, son-in-law Jamie and daughter-in-law Fleur.
I have a big brother Dennis and I cherish the memory of my other brother, Ray. He was also an author, his biggest accomplishment being a story based on the Bayeux Tapestry called Warriors of the Dragon Gold. It’s still available and is a damn good read.
His daughter, Jenny, is one of my favorite people.
What is your biggest fear?
Being stuck in an elevator with any except three of my former bosses. I’d probably murder the others.
What is the most important thing that ever happened to you? Why?
Going into journalism. That led not only to a satisfying career but also to meeting Stephanie, who became my wife. That led in turn to the births of our children and of our grandchildren. That career choice sparked a lot of good things.
Do you have any special talents or abilities?
I’ve dabbled in all sorts of stuff – guitar playing, horse riding, cycling. Never been any good at any of them.
How do you see your future?
Writing (and re-writing, what a chore) and traveling as much as I’m able.
If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?
Elvis Presley. Then I’d be with someone who had a positive nature, a great sense of humor, would buy me a car, and keep me entertained all day with his songs.
If you had a free day with no responsibilities, how would you spend it?
· Get up late.
· Breakfast and coffee in dressing gown.
· Bathroom stuff around midday.
· Go to beach, forest or mountains.
· Have lunch (around 4pm) in a pleasant but not expensive restaurant.
· Go home and have a nap (maybe 5.30-6.30).
· Do two hours marketing.
· Dinner at home at 8.30.
· Do three hours writing (9pm-midnight).
· Read a good book, sitting up in bed.
· Go to sleep at 2 or 3 a.m.
Where can we find out more about you?
www.davidkbryant.com All the aspects of me are there, including the crazy side. (See the page “Nonsense I Have Written”.)
Tread Carefully on the Sea
The Governor of Jamaica organized a splendid 21st birthday party for his adopted daughter, Jessica. However, the best surprise for her came the following day when her admirer, Captain Michael Townsend of the Royal Navy, asked her to marry him. Meanwhile, Captain Flint, one of the most successful buccaneers of the colonial era, decided to take the fortune he had made from twenty years of piracy and retire to a secret place where he would be out of the reach of justice. That’s what should have happened. But Flint was persuaded to raise yet more money through one last crime; a crime more daring and dangerous than any he had previously committed. His men would kidnap Jessica and add her ransom money to their pensions. The kidnap leads to a desperate chase across the Caribbean and all the horrors of 18th Century life at sea for Jessica and those who try to help her, while Captain Flint himself must face the threat of both the hangman and those within his own crew who plot against him.
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As the shirt was removed, her eyes came level with a huge tattoo of an eagle on his chest. Ridiculously, that gave her renewed terror, as though the tattoo was worse than the man. There was certainly menace from the eagle. It stared at her, its talons outstretched and its wings spread wide. It looked prepared to pounce right out of his chest and claw at her face.
The cry that would have brought forth a dozen soldiers was about to leave the governor’s tongue – but remained unleashed as the pirate warned: “I wouldn’t do that, Governor, for the sake of your niece’s health.”
“Did you get the name of the ship?” demanded the governor.
“It was the Walrus, Sir,” the messenger replied.
“Captain Flint,” said Trelawny, and for the moment that was all he did say.
One of the stories that had evoked within the Royal Navy a sneaking admiration for the pirate chieftain was that he had captured a big Spanish galleon and made it his own. Now Townsend could see in front of him the confirmation of that audacity. The big ship sat on the ocean like she owned it.
“Britain came to this part of the world to find riches. It was very successful in doing so but it had a major problem. It was shipping around so many slaves and so much merchandise that it didn’t have sufficient military resources to protect its new-found wealth. So what did it do about the policing of its trade routes and the protection of places like Jamaica? It found it convenient to encourage the people you would call pirates…You had better hope that the King never turns against the Royal Navy in the same way that he turned against the privateers.
Reeling and with blood dripping down his face, O’Hara got up on one knee, then the other. By the time he was on his feet, Hugh was charging forward like a stag in the rutting season. Another head butt was imminent.
Flint bent his knees and placed his hands on them so that his face came level with Townsend’s. “That’s it, then” barked the pirate captain. “You don’t agree to my proposal. I don’t agree to yours. Our fates are intertwined.”
She didn’t close her eyes and her brain pitifully tried to distract her from reality by registering that the gunman was left-handed. His finger was going back with the trigger. Spontaneously, she said a few words of her native Ashanti. The phrase had been taught to her by Queen Nanny: “Do not fear death any more than you fear life.” If Libby was going to die, she wanted those to be the last words she said.