Novelist’s tale is inspired by his time at sea

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A MAN with a love of the sea has published his first novel, decades after dreaming up the story when he was in the Navy.

Stowmarket-based author Chris Todhunter launched his book at the end of September and is holding a book signing in Bury St Edmunds’ Waterstones tomorrow.

Maelstrom tells the story of Jack Ross and his dream job chartering boats in the West Highlands.

Chris, 58, said it was a project that has been a long time in the making.

“I was in the Navy for nine years and during that time I did a fair amount of work off the West Highlands coast.

“They really are dynamically exciting waters to work in and I thought to myself there has to be a story here about fast boats and crashing seas.”

It wasn’t until many years later that Chris, then a maritime lawyer, sat down and began to put his ideas on to paper.

“I had the idea for the story bubbling away for a while and it just poured out,” he said.

But he will always remember when he began to write it, for more than one reason.

“Ten years ago I was on a transatlantic flight, I opened my laptop and typed in ‘Chapter one’,” he said. “I was on an airplane to New York and it was September 11, 2001.”

Three years later he left his job and medically retired. He moved to the West Highlands to finish his book.

Now, living back in Combs, he is writing full time. He said: “I absolutely love it.”

And his second book, about a tanker which is hijacked by Somali pirates, is soon due for release.

He said the sea will always inspire him: “It’s salt water that runs in my veins instead of blood. I have spent all my life working connected with the sea and I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.”

n Maelstrom is available in Waterstones, from all major online outlets and for Kindle.

n Chris will be signing books in Waterstones, in the Buttermarket, Bury, on Saturday from 11am.