Book signing at Waterstones, Worthing

SigningI had a really successful day on Saturday at Waterstones in Worthing, being the best selling author in the shop by some margin! Thanks to Joel for organizing it and Caitlin, Matt and Sara for their help on the day. Talked to many enthusiastic children and adults about the story of Harriet Tubman and the artifacts I took along to illustrate points in the book.

It was particularly pleasing to have a young boy return with his mother having bought my first book – Charlie Green and The Pirate’s Treasure – at Waterstones event last year. His excitement about another Charlie Green story after his enjoyment of the first was very obvious. Thank you Louie! He was also keen to hear of the next adventure – Charlie Green and The Knights of The Round Table – due out next year.



Charlie Green and The Underground Railroad

The inspiration for my latest book came from this publication outlining some of Harriet Tubman’s achievements and the recognition of bravery afforded her by officers of the Union Army of North America after the civil war. As well as leading many former slaves to freedom before the conflict, she served as a soldier and nurse during the American Civil War.

TubmanCharlie and his time-travelling companions decide to search her out and offer her assistance to complete a task she was unable to do at the time. Although at one point Charlie’s effervescent nature sets off a chain of events they could have done without, and whole idea ultimately puts one of his companion’s lives at risk!

As a young boy I collected a series of picture cards that came in Bazooka Bubble Gum packs, produced by the A&BC Chewing Gum Co., which depicted scenes from the American Civil War. They produced many series of different themed cards, but for some reason I, as a ten year old boy, collected, the often grisly, Civil War News cards, which also came with a copy of a Confederate bank note! There were eighty eight cards to collect and I have a full collection from that period. Here are a couple!


On the reverse of the cards information relating to the scene was printed in fashion of a newspaper report. Although I must have learnt about the battle scenes, my friends and I were more interested in swapping cards to complete our collections! The illustrations were the work of American artist Norman Saunders. Born in 1907 Saunders became a top magazine cover and pulp fiction artist. The cards were originally produced for the American company Topps and then licenced to the UK. Some are so graphic that they probably wouldn’t be accepted in a children’s sweet wrapping today!

Published on the 28th May I had a great reception at the initial book launch at Shoreham Airport, West Sussex on June 3rd.

Book signing event at Waterstones in Worthing: 5th August, 12.00 -15.00


St Andrews Boys School

I had a really successful day on Monday (23rd Jan) at St Andrews Boys School in Worthing, where I entertained around 90 pupils from yrs 7 – 10 for an hour talking about Charlie Green and The Pirate’s Treasure. They particularly enjoyed the antique artifacts I took along to illustrate the talk – especially the flintlock pistol! They were also engaged enough to ask plenty of questions at the end too.

I will also be attending a book signing event at Waterstones in Brighton on the 13th February, where I shall also be accompanied by my historic artifact collection.

The Special Camera!

In this story of time-travelling adventure Charlie Green discovers, by accident, that a vintage aeroplane he’s found in an old, abandoned hangar, has very magical properties – it can take him anywhere in history he wants to go!

Inside a shed, which nature has tried to hide, at the bottom the overgrown garden of their new home, he and his brother Ben uncover an Aladdin’s cave of artefacts from bygone days.

On the walls hang pictures of someone dressed in period costumes from all ages of history. One is different; it is of a man and an aeroplane – the magical aeroplane! The picture has a special connection to the machine and the camera used was a Box Brownie.
An Eastman Kodak Box Brownie is no more than a cardboard box, covered in faux leather, with an internal wooden frame on which to mount the shutter, lens and film spool; designed over 100years ago.

This is how it works…

The Brownie Box Camera

A camera works by recording an image on photographic film that is chemically reactive to light. The film only needs to be exposed to Untitled-1the light of an image for a very short time – normally fractions of a second. If too much light reaches the film, it just turns black and no image could be produced. Therefore a camera must prevent all unwanted light from reaching the inside – only light (from the image) is allowed through the lens via a shutter. It is the shutter that controls the length of time the light is allowed to pass to the photographic film stored inside.
There is no other camera that is as simple in operation as the Box Brownie. Although, there are many variations of this wonderfully basic camera to which additional technical features have been incorporated – like variable aperture (the size of the hole that lets in the light), or as in this case a time delay facility.

The business end of the Brownie

Untitled-2To take a picture the camera is held so that it may be viewed from above and the image required displayed in the appropriate window – either portrait or landscape. To take a portrait picture the camera is held upright and for landscape it is held on its side.

On the same side of the camera are the winder that is used to move the film on to Untitled-3the next frame shot, the time delay lever control and the shutter trigger lever. The little catch is used to hold the two halves of the camera together.

With the front and rear cases removed the wooden frame, to which the shutter mechanism is mounted at the front and the funnel shaped light box to the rear, over which the film runs, can be clearly seen.

Untitled-4Untitled-5With the front cover removed the simple shutter mechanism can be seen. Here the shutter is being held open by the timing lever at the top of the mechanism. The shutter itself is thrown over by the tiny spring that can be seen attached to the shutter plate. The power of the spring combined with the size of the shutter slot gives an aperture opening of between 1/50th to 1/100th of a second. The timing lever is used to manually control the length of time the shutter is open – for long exposures.

The two image reflecting mirrors can be clearly seen at the top of the wooden frame.

A side view of the front frameUntitled-6

Inside view through the funnel shaped light box of the camera, from the rear towards the aperture at the front. The film, held on spools near the front of the camera, would go over the top and bottom rollers and be wide enough to cover the width of the light box.Untitled-7

The rear of the camera case

The small circular red filter window is where the number on the film roll can be viewed. The film winder can be seen on the lower right of the picture.


School Visit

Took Charlie Green’s first story of adventure back in time to the local Primary School recently and had a lovely day. My presentation also explored the history of telling the time as well as handling some pirate artefacts featured in the book. The children also got involved in a demonstration of how a sundial worked with the tallest child representing the sun! With careful handling several of them got the chance to feel the weight of a real cutlass a pirate may have used to fight with while others fired the flintlock – obviously unloaded! They learnt a little of the magic aeroplane used in Charlie’s adventures – an old De Havilland biplane from the 1930’s – found abandoned in an old hangar when the family moved into a house next to a disused airfield. As most of the children already knew I am a pilot as well as author, there were many questions about flying too!


Worthing Waterstones Blog

Had a great a day with the team at Waterstones in Worthing on 29th October. Took along all the artefacts I’ve collected (except the cutlass) to illustrate Charlie Green’s journey back in time to find pirates and possibly, not surprisingly, the flintlock pistol created the greatest interest. All the kids had a chance to hold it and see how it worked – they loved it. I really enjoyed chatting and discussing with them how they all worked; the gimballed compass and marine sundial were also particularly handled with interest. One copy of Charlie Green and the Pirate’s Treasure was going to be making a long journey, all the way to Fife in Scotland, as the little girl who bought it was in Worthing visiting relatives. She said she was going to enjoy reading the book on the way home!

Thanks to Joel Penny for arranging the event.


Project Darlek


Project Dalek began in the spring with Lex (Aka – Charlie!) suggesting we – using the Royal We – construct a Dalek for her to play with – one big enough for her to climb in and operate from the inside! This reminded me of my childhood when I dreamt of getting up on Christmas day to find a Dalek in my bedroom or in the hallway. Like many children of my era and my own daughter – many years later – I loved the adventures of Dr Who and had a particular fascination with the Daleks.

I was raised at a time when we got excited about a Satsuma, a Banana and couple of bars of chocolate in a darlek2sock hung on the bedpost and one special toy from Santa. Anyone of a similar age and background will know what I’m talking about! I never did get any sort of Dalek – so I grew up without one, but when the suggestion was made to build one, something stirred, un-reluctantly, in the childhood memory part of my brain. The persuasion needed wasn’t the usual mind bending psychology of a lifelong salesman my young daughter normal employs to twist me around her little finger – I just agreed! We started by measuring up the small toy Dalek (albeit missing the eye!) she had and measuring her height, plus a little for growth, to make a scale replica. We also had her Dr Who memorabilia to refer to, which showed a range of designs that had appeared over the years – an array of slight variations I hadn’t realised. After a few sketches I decided to make three frames, one each for the top, middle and bottom and join those sections of plywood. Lex came up with the idea of the very top being made from a laundry basket – an excellent idea.  I found some old furniture castors in the garage and we fitted three to the base for mobility. It was decided to fit adarlek3 door in the back for entry and covering for the lower section came from the packaging of 3mm plywood used to protect some roof lights fitted to our house recently. Lex did a lot of the holding while I did the cutting of the framing sections, using a jigsaw. The frames are held in place with spacing formers made out of 15mm ply – as are the frames. We attached the variously shaped thin ply sections to the frame using 15mm panel pins and glue – which at times got a bit messy! It took several weekends to get to something recognisable but gradually the Dalek took shape.

Lex picked the sink-plunger weapon to use in a local DIY store and we made a bracket so it pivots side to side and up and down. For the lights on top, which look a bit like ears, I used a pair of old trailer lights I’d had hanging around for years. I converted them to LED lights instead of 12V bulbs, using a piece of copper clad circuit boadarlek4rd. Lex chose the colour and soldered in the LED’s – three in each.

Of course Dr Who travelled in time – like Charlie Green and his special aeroplane – and Lex and I have had many conversations whilst building the Dalek about time-travel and where we’d go, given the chance. Where would you go?

Next time I’ll have more news on the build including the electrics.

Two out of Three Ain’t Bad!

Two out three Ain’t Bad! No, not th2e song by Meat Loaf, but sunny days at the Goodwood Revival last weekend! As usual a fantastic display of vintage racers was on display as well as some


One of my favourites – an 1932 Alfa Tipo B.

gorgeous aircraft on static display and flying. Almost everyone was playing their part in the themed event with lovely ladies and dapper gents in appropriate outfits and the odd cameo roles of various groups that percolate around the Goodwood Racetrack venue, like C.O’Medy – the road menders. In the past I have flown in, as a charter pilot delivering customers, but this year I arrived by car like most do and should have got there earlier to miss the queue!

I was lucky to have a Paddock Pass – thanks to a close friend – which meant I could mingle with some really expensive motors! Ferrari’s, Bugatti’s, Maserati’s and even equally classic MG’s. Friday was practice day with racing on Saturday and Sunday.

Another impressive piece of kit was the reproduction Albatross DVA with an equally impressive reproduction Mercedes 180hp DIIIA engine to power it. The build company, The Vintage Aviator Ltd of New Zealand, spent years reverse engineering the aeroplane and all its components including the engine and it’s built to fly, not sit in a museum. Its current home is Stow Maries airfield in Essex, the only extant WW1 period military airfield still with many of its original buildings. Many of these have now been restored and it has been turned in to visitor attraction


My old mate poses by the side of the Albatross with period straw hat!

with volunteers manning the museum, café and restoration workshops.


The cockpit has very little in the way of instrumentation compared to what a modern day pilot would expect!

It was good of Goodwood to give me a mention over the loudspeaker system on Sunday – I should have taken some copies of Charlie Green and The Pirate’s Treasure along! They had a De Havilland Foxmoth there, which is bi-plane passenger aeroplane, but not a DH50 that is the magical type in my stories. The Goodwood Revival certainly is a jewel in the crown of the classic motor racing circuit and makes a great fun day out. There were a few sights to inspire me with ideas for characters in my next book too. I also bumped into the artist Simon Canacott who has illustrated a copy of Charlie Green and The Pirate’s Treasure as he read it.


My First Post!

DSC02026The first press coverage of my debut novel – Charlie Green and The Pirate’s Treasure – appeared in the Shoreham Herald, Thursday, March 31. The catchy title given to the feature captures both the book and my experiences – Pilot dad publishes pirate adventure! With years of experience of writing technical aviation manuals (two books published) I was inspired – over six years ago – whilst playing with my two daughters to embark on my first novel. I love working on craft projects with them and at one time we built a two-storey play den at the bottom of the garden – they named it their ‘Fairy Dell’. Within it they acted out their fantasies and I found myself being taken back to my childhood days and thought of the stories I had enjoyed.
I was enthralled with the H.G. Wells book The Time Machine and fascinated by the adventures of buccaneers on the high seas in old sailing ships. Someone once said, “Life is what happens to you while you busy doing other things”! Finding time to do what you would really like to do is not always straightforward, and being in the right frame of mind to write a novel came to me on holiday. As that only happens once or twice a year, my first book took a few years to complete! With a different approach, Charlie’s next adventure is already occupying plenty of pages and the first draft is nearing completion after only six months! If I had a pound for every time I’ve thought, I wish I could have been there, when reading about historical adventures. Stories like The Secret Garden also inspired the theme of time travel on a journey through history and my passion of flying meant there was only one machine appropriate for the transportation of my adventurers!

Reports of the lost treasure of Capt. William Kidd – amongst others – excites many people with the thought of discovering a hidden horde that might still be somewhere for the taking and it got me thinking about – what if? What if you could actually travel in time – what would you do, where would you go? I remember that as a child I dreamt of going to many places and being on board a sailing ship discovering new lands was one of them, or a swashbuckling pirate ship chasing a Spanish treasure ship! I relive and share my childhood dreams through the antics of Charlie Green and his siblings in Charlie Green and The Pirate’s Treasure, published on 28th April 2016.