By Patrick Barnham
A British railwayman writer rediscovered his old manuscripts, edited them 30 years later – then wrote another one.
Richard Wilkins, 57, Reading, Berkshire, was full of creative spirit back in his teens but earning a living and becoming a proud dad changed his priorities.
Dad of three Richard said: “At the age of 19 I found myself kicking about without any real direction.
“It was around this time I had a go at writing fiction. I got hold of a second-hand Olivetti typewriter and wrote a novel and a couple of short stories.”
The former hunt saboteur was working on his second novel while doing some undercover animal-rights work when he started contacting publishers.
“While I was working on the second book I sent the first into the real world hoping to woo publishers with my untapped potential.
“But they didn’t share my enthusiasm and I ended up with a pile of rejection letters.”
After years of labouring and warehouse work Richard raised a family and got his dream job working on the rails.
Richard said: “For the first time in my life I was making a good living and I really dedicated myself to having a great career and being a husband and dad which is the best thing ever.”
But a chance discovery of his old writing life emerged during lockdown.
Stuck at home with only some trains running Richard cleared out his attic and found his old manuscripts.
Richard said: “Sorting through stuff I found a box of my old writings. It spurred me on and I edited them and even started writing more.
“So now I have two novels and a collection of short stories. But now I publish them on Kindle.”
Invisible Lines – a collection of 10 short stories
I wasn’t given the opportunity to travel much in my younger years. Our family holidays were pretty much limited to Cornwall or trips to see the grandparents in Essex. It’s a world without borders – an impossible dream in the real world, but what if?
The idea behind this story was born in the eighties. At the time I found myself within the embrace of the anarcho punk culture and the often militant animal rights campaigning it involved. I felt a desire to write a story based on my experiences within that period of my life, particularly the hunt-sabbing. Into the mix I injected the music and attitude of the time, stirring in portions of anarchism, veganism, anti-fascism and the general anti-societal feelings that were strong in the movement.
I have long-held in the shadowy side of the world thanks to my sister. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.