Steve Coles, where are you now…..?
Steve was a finance colleague for The Thomson Corporation in London, when I was working for the group captive insurance business in Bermuda. But on one of my UK visits, we were talking books, and he recommended the author William Boyd.
I even remember that Steve was reading Brazzaville Beach at the time.
Fast forward a few years…..I was back in England, living in Godalming, had read a couple of Mr Boyd’s books already and then had the good fortune to hear him speak at the local college. He was essentially promoting the publication of Restless, a spy story with a difference and later a very successful TV adaptation, with a stellar cast (Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon).
But he also gave some illuminating insights into the writing process and his own interesting life. He spent his formative years in Africa, experience used in several novels, including his first published book A Good Man In Africa, then An Ice–Cream War and Brazzaville Beach.
Since then, I’ve read several more books from his impressive output of 17 novels in 34 years, for which he has garnered a significant number of prestigious prizes. He has also written several successful screenplays, some non fiction and a theatre piece. No wonder he’s been called one of the greatest living British writers.
His stories are that elusively perfect marriage of plot, characterisation and style that capture the reader almost as much as they make an aspiring writer seethe with envy.
Even the protagonists’ names tend to be imbued with genius: Logan Mountstuart (Any Human Heart), Eva Delectorskaya (Restless), Lysander Rief (Waiting for Sunrise).
I’m reading Waiting for Sunrise now. Early days, but the author is already luring me into Lysander’s world….the research into Vienna is so meticulous that I’m transported there as soon as I pick up the book. The plot will no doubt unfold like a chess Grand Master’s strategy, ending with the reader in complete thrall to the writer’s skill and mastery of the literary game.
The last time I saw my old colleague was in Sevenoaks. Sainsburys car park. If you happen to read this, Steve, thanks for the introduction to William Boyd. He -and you – have enriched my reading life.