Waring’s new novel no flight of fancy
Flying close to the action in an African war zone has fuelled the next chapter in author Geoffrey Waring’s literary journey.
As a former merchant navy seaman and airline pilot, the 75-year-old has plenty of better work stories to tell, having left NZ at the age of 24 to embark on a career which took him to the Middle East, Africa, the West Indies and Australia.
Now 20 years out of the cockpit and living in Redwood Valley, south of Nelson, Waring’s new life passion is writing.
Following the release of his first novel The Deerkeeper in 2014, Waring has taken to the skies for inspiration on his next work, Critical Point, set to be launched at Richmond Library this week.
‘‘I thought after 30 years I should write a flying story - but I couldn’t write a boring flying A to B or cockpit chat, so instead I’m taking the reader with me into how people think and what they do and how other factors influence them,’’ he said.
He refers to his writing style as ‘‘faction’’ - spurred on by the notion authors should write about what they know most about.
Waring describes the novel as a paean to the old 707 aircraft he used to fly for Zambia’s national carrier during the latter stages of the Rhodesian war, overlaid with a strong dose of the political turmoil that existed under those African skies.
‘‘I want to introduce readers to the political and social climate at the time and the effect it had on people - there was a lot going on and I knew a lot of people who were getting involved.’’
‘‘It’s not an autobiographical book, but what I’ve done is taken the aeroplane stuff and then inserted fictional characters in actual situations.’’
Set in the fictional Republic of Mongoma, Critical Point is a rollicking ride set against a backdrop of turbulent politics, armed rebellion, sanction-busting and covert nuclear shipments.
‘‘It’s more than just a squarejawed hero fighting the forces of nature - there’s all kinds of promotion and ego, fear and all these things built into it.’’
Waring’s personal experiences during the Rhodesian conflict could fill a book on their own.
Flying civilian aircraft from Botswana to Zambia’s capital, Waring would often transport young men across the border who would be taken to military training camps before being sent off to fight.
After an Air Rhodesia flight was shot down in 1978 by Zambian troops and the surviving passengers murdered, Waring recalled a tense atmosphere in the skies as Rhodesia’s air force carried out swift retaliation.
‘‘The day that the Rhodesians mounted their Green Leader air raid on Zambia, I was doing a bit of moonlighting flying a small executive jet for one of the copper mines.
‘‘That morning I’d taken off about 8am from Lusaka going up to the copper belt with some executives on board.’’
‘‘Halfway along there was a reporting point - when we landed the guy there said there’s been a whole lot of bombing going on.
‘‘So of course I got on the phone to air traffic control in Ndola and said what the hell is going on? and they told me the Rhodesian had bombed everything and here I am with all these top executives with me.’’
‘‘Looking back on my log book I missed the bombing raid by 15 minutes.’’
The book launch for Critical Point is at Richmond Library, tonight from 5pm-7pm.
Cash book sales will be available for $25. All welcome.
For more of Geoffrey’s writing, go to www.geoffreywaring.nz.
Nelson author Geoffrey Waring will hold a book launch for his second novel, at Richmond Library tonight.