Now many people will read the title and think that I am referring to the politics that has dominated our airwaves over the past two weeks.
Absolutely not. The change is to this blog. A new look and new approach, less ranting and more positive constructive talk about “books, boats and meatballs”, and maybe a rant every now and then if it’s important enough.
Books and boats you will understand, but where the hell did “meatballs” come from? Well hopefully I write good books, we love our boat and my wife makes the best meatballs. So you could say this blog is now about a simple lifestyle encompassing the things we are most passionate about. The title could include, “my children”, “hiking” and everything else we love to do, but that’s where the meatballs come in. A simple meal created using organic meat, vegetables, herbs, spices, parmesan cheese and pasta, simply served and delicious, a pot pot-pourri of tastes that let your imagination fly.
Cooking helps me relax after a hard day at the laptop pounding out what I hope are good stories. Some spicy, piquant and bold, others subtle, emotional and thought provoking. Books, like food, should tickle the senses, provoke an image of a distant place, or a heart warming memory. And food, like boats, always finds its way into my books.
John Blackwell, my mentor, friend and editor of my first book CONTACT published by Martin Secker & Warburg, took me to task when I said I just write for myself.
He said “if that is true why are you publishing? You do not write for yourself, you write for others to read. And you owe a responsibility to those readers.” John also loved good food and good wine, and I had the privilege of spending many long nights talking, eating, drinking and learning about the art of writing books. John took away the arrogance of my thinking in the best way possible, by being a patient friend and brilliant editor, his passing was a shock and a loss to all who knew him and worked with him.
The authors he edited included Nobel Prize winners such as J.M. Coetzee and novices like myself, but he never made the distinction between us, just that we were his authors and ‘good writing is good writing”. To John any published book was valuable because no matter whether it was a literary masterpiece or a romantic bodice-ripper, the important thing was that every genre brings readers and that is the most important thing for any author.
John felt that, like food, books should be bold in concept and execution, should inform the reader as well as entertain, and like a good meal, the reader should feel pleasantly satisfied and yet be left wanting more, the after-taste like a good wine that lingers on the palate.
Living, writing and cooking on a 35ft sail boat has its challenges for my wife and I. We have entertained upwards of twenty five people; created gourmet masterpieces and some absolute disasters (all in the name of experimenting); had our children, grandchildren, my brothers and friends staying with us and the privilege of being able to give my mother a relaxing month on the boat and in the marina two months before she died of breast cancer at 79 years old.
But one of the greatest things about living on our boat is that it provides a peaceful cocoon to be able to write (summer madness not withstanding). The months after Labor Day when the weather in Southern California is beautiful, the sun shining and tourists have taken their pink sunburned bodies back to colder climes, is just the best condition to write in the early morning and reflect upon the day in the quiet of the evening.
Tonight I’m making a spicy chicken pasta salad, so that my wife and our friend from Australia, can sit in the cockpit, enjoy our meal, a pleasant drink and great conversation as we watch the sun drop into the Pacific ocean.
Books, Boats and Meatballs. Our Essence of Happiness