War­ing’s new novel no flight of fancy

The Leader (Tasman) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - TIM O’CON­NELL

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.

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