From My Bookshelves 7. 4th December

December 4th, 2009 Posted in Books

My entry of the 10th October shows how my early reading took me to John Buchan. I have twenty-six books by him on my bookshelves, the first, Prester John which was on my school list for reading. It led me into Greenmantle, John Macnab and all the others. One in particular has special memories for me. Written inside is my name and under it ‘Cambridge 11th Sept 1942.’  No, I wasn’t at the University. I had just been taken into the RAF as aircrew under traing and was lying on a grass airfield just outside the town.  The weather was pleasant; I had purchased Sick Heart River and was reading it before taking to the air for the first time! It proved not to be the last, for I went on to serve as a Bomb Aimer in Lancasters in Bomber Command completing a tour of 36 missions. Sick Heart River, set in remote Canada, pre-figured Buchan’s own death. I did not know as I read it that, in training, I would fly over some of those icy wastes of remote Canada.

Buchan may be dated today but he tells a good story and his novels never fail to grip and his characters, of their time, come alive. His settings are vivid and make it easy for the reader ‘to be there.’

I believe that John Buchan was one of the influences that turned me to writing fiction, and his non-fiction books showed me the merits of good research  He showed me that writing can be as much of an adventure as the stories themselves.

Ah, what pleasant days reading on an airfield near Cambridge can lead to !

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