Today it gives me great pleasure to host fellow author, Robert Fear, who is here to tell you about himself, his books, and his latest release … Summer of 77 … take it away Robert >>>
Robert Fear has lived in Eastbourne on the south coast of the UK for half his life. He moved there to be with Lynn, his future wife, and is still there with her thirty years later. As cat-lovers, they have taken on several rescue cats over the years and are owned by three now.
For his day job, Robert works as a self-employed software consultant. In his spare time, he writes, edits, and self-publishes books.
Robert’s interest in travel goes back to his twenties when he spent most of his time abroad. His experiences included: a summer in Ibiza, hitch-hiking around Europe, and touring the USA and Canada. His most eventful trip was in 1981 when he travelled through Asia.
Born into a religious sect known as the Exclusive Brethren, his father, John, took the brave step of leaving it with his young family when Robert was nine years old. Robert never saw his grandparents again but is thankful for being able to grow up outside this restrictive group. His life has been full of adventures he would never have experienced otherwise.
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Fred was a nickname given to Robert while at school. It became his travel name and people still know him as Fred to this day. In this blog post, he talks about the background to his self-publishing journey.
Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia is the edited version of a handwritten diary that I kept during my travels around Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Nepal between February and July 1981. The final collection ran to 600 closely written pages.
I almost forgot the diary for many years. It only appeared when friends asked to read it.
In 2005 I started typing it up on my computer as the original copy was fading. I got the first two months from my trip transcribed but then ran out of motivation.
Two years later there was an article in a PC magazine about Kindle and self-publishing that sparked my interest.
As a result, I released the second part of my diary Time in Thailand in 2009. As the title suggests, things didn’t go as planned on that leg of my trip. I published £99 to Hong Kong in 2011. This covered the first part of my adventure where, amongst other things, I worked as an extra for Chinese television.
By then the bug had bitten, and I planned a release of the whole diary. Over the next two years, I typed everything up and started editing.
In December 2013, I published Fred’s Diary 1981. It was a long book. The paperback version ran to 564 pages and contained 165K words.
During the first few months of 2015 further editing took place and the second edition, released in October 2015, contained 100K words, with around 360 pages. It also had a professional final edit and a new cover.
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It started for me back in 1992 when my father, John, became frail and was confined to bed. Visits to the hospital became more frequent, and the doctors were talking about months, not years.
John had been working on his memoirs for several years and had already typed up many of the chapters. He also had plans in place for finishing the remaining chapters of his book. Now he could not continue, and my mother called me to see if I could help. I was more than happy to get involved.
In the evenings and at weekends I sat at my computer and transcribed the chapters that John had finished. I printed these off and sent them back to him. It was a period of reconciliation between father and eldest son as we discussed changes and planned for the missing chapters.
During the months following his death, I continued working on John’s memoirs with the help of my mother and brother. In 1994 we printed a limited edition for family and friends called Exclusive Pedigree. If it hadn’t been for a chance remark years later, the life of the book could have ended there.
Towards the end of 2015, I was visiting my mother for a few days and gave her a paperback copy of the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981, which she wanted to read. Our conversation turned to self-publishing, and we started talking about John’s memoirs. Then came the bombshell from my mother, “Did you know Rob, that John always wanted to have his book professionally published?” I had another challenge ahead.
My father’s memoirs were published in July 2016. I think John would have been proud of the finished result, a fabulous tribute to his life entitled Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren.
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While working on the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981, I began a blog in February 2015 to aid me with the editing process.
To encourage people to visit the blog I started a travel story competition which I ran in parallel with daily diary extracts.
It was such a success that I ran another competition for travel highlights. This went very well too. I published all the entries in a new book called Travel Stories and Highlights.
In 2016 I re-ran the two competitions. Again, there were many fantastic entries, and I released a 2017 Edition of Travel Stories and Highlights in December 2016. It contained the best 50 stories and 50 highlights from both sets of competitions.
2017 and 2018 saw the competitions being repeated. This led to two more editions being produced. The 2018 Edition contained 60 stories and 40 highlights, while the 2019 edition included 66 stories and 66 highlights.
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Although I enjoyed publishing other people’s stories, I was itching to write a memoir about the six months I spent on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 1977, when I was 21.
Two years ago, I started planning the book. It was fortunate that I still had the letters I received while working the season in Ibiza. Otherwise, I would have found it difficult remembering what happened over forty years ago. I transcribed the letters and created a timeline around them. This triggered memories of events from the time and I started writing.
After months of prevarication and self-doubt, I completed the final chapter in May this year. Then I began editing my words and making the story more concise and readable.
Next steps included the choice of a title, commissioning a cover design and writing the blurb.
Then came a professional edit which reduced the word count by 10% and gave a real polish to the memoir.
The moment of truth arrived when I passed the draft copy to a group of beta readers at the start of September. The response has been very positive and a few 5* reviews have already been posted on Goodreads.
Summer of ’77: Beaches, bars and boogie nights in Ibiza is now available to pre-order on Amazon with a publication date of October 27th. Below is a synopsis:
A holiday can change everything…
…it did for Fred.
He went on a two-week break with three friends to the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 1976. It was so enjoyable they all vowed to come back for the following season.
In April 1977, Fred returned to Ibiza, alone, in pursuit of his dream.
Behind him, he left his family, his girlfriend, and a promising career in banking.
Challenges lay ahead.
This would be no holiday.
He needed a place to stay and to find work that would sustain him through the next six months.
This true to life memoir follows 21-year-old Fred’s adventures as he acclimatises to living abroad. In a time before instant communication, he keeps in touch with family and friends by letter. They are his lifeline to home.
If you enjoy reading about people’s life-changing experiences, then this book is for you.
The hard work now begins with the marketing of my memoir, so I haven’t even thought about what to write next. I am sure reading Harmony’s new book Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer will give me some great ideas!
Social media and blog links
Fred’s Blog: fd81.net