David has got more than 30 books to his name, including three fictional diaries, but this is his debut novel.
It tells the tale of Mike Partridge, a clumsy, careless husband and father who has no real feelings for anyone except himself. He cannot even find it in himself to love his beautiful adopted daughter Katie. But then through a moment’s stupidity, he loses his job and his family, and suddenly his life is in ruins. However, a chance encounter in a Manchester outdoor goods store leads him to discover the joy of walking and to begin a pilgrimage that takes him through some of the most glorious scenery in England and Wales.
“For a long time I specialised very much in non-fiction, but for a long time I thought I would really like to write a novel. But the trouble was I didn’t read enough fiction because I was so busy researching my non-fiction books (among them a wide variety of walking books). More recently I have done a great deal more reading of modern humorous fiction until I felt I could get to grips with the material.”
This particular book began with a “what if” buzzing around David’s mind – what if someone was so self-absorbed they got off the train with someone else’s daughter. He then started to ponder a chance meeting: “And that set me thinking about a novel with a very definite walking theme. That was my USP in my mind.
“I developed the idea of a character who starts in a very bad place indeed. His marriage is poor. His family life is not good at all, and out of that, through a chance meeting, he develops a love of walking and that love of walking leads to his salvation. He comes to understand the true nature of love and loving relationships. He starts the novel as a rather selfish, self-obsessed individual and finishes it as a very strong, likeable persona. Without wanting to sound too didactic or preachy, what I am trying to say it ‘Get out into the great outdoors and it will change you!’ I have always loved walking since I was in my teens. Obviously there are health benefits. Everyone says a decent walk can add years to your life expectancy, but there is also the wonder of the natural world. We are so lucky to be so near such brilliant scenery here on our doorstep, and there is all the exhilaration in exploring that. Walking brings you into close contact with the changing seasons. You have got all the different berries of September, nature’s bounty, and then you have got all the wonderful colours of the autumn. And even in winter, it can be wet and cold, but on a frosty winter’s day, you can see everything with wonderful clarity.”
David consulted a literary consultant to help him make the transition to fiction: “Obviously it is very different. With the walking books you are giving information, but with a novel, obviously you have got to move away from telling to showing.”
Available from St Olave’s Bookshop or from David directly on [email protected], priced £10.
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