A RETIRED engineer has called on 60-year-old memories to get a novel published at the age of 80.
In the 1950s, Dr Clifford Peacock worked for eight years as a district officer involved in the development of water supplies in a part of Kenya, which had for centuries been ravaged by slavery and ivory hunting.
His experiences and the harrowing tales he heard prompted the father-of-one to promise himself, when he retired, to write a novel based the long and bloody history of East African slavery.
He has now secured a publisher for his book, called The Cruel Trade. But the excitement had barely settled when the former lecturer at Birmingham and Dundee universities learned he will also have another of his novels, Crowning Deception, published later in the year.
It will be a third for Dr Clifford, who lives with his wife Lynette in Ovingham, Northumberland, after a previous novel was published on Amazon Kindle.
Dr Clifford, who grew-up in Eighton Banks, Gateshead, and attended Washington Grammar School, said: “I’ve always been a keen writer but, as I was an engineer, it was always technical writing.
“It was only after I retired that I turned to fiction and writing novels.
“I’m quite elderly, so I’m old enough to have done national service, from which I went on to gain colonial service, which is why I spent eight years in Kenya.
“The area I worked had a deep history of slavery and elephant hunting. I saw a lot of things and heard a lot of stories from people out there. In fact, one of my assistants found the body of a slave in a cave once.
“The idea for the books came then and I told myself that when I retired, I would start writing fiction – but fiction based on facts. The novel that has just been published took me four years. I then spent 18 months looking for a literary agent, as most publishers won’t accept scripts from the author, just a literary agent.
“Finally, I found Robert Hale Ltd, who did accept them from the author. I sent it off and then I got the letter to say they were going to publish it. I was very excited. Apparently, they’ve already had encouraging interest and reviews.
“Then, the same company were interested in my other novel Crowning Deception and they shall be publishing that, as well. It’s all very exciting.”
The Cruel Trade tells the story of how the Kenyan traders, on the long journey inland, killed elephants and left the carcasses to rot out on the Savannah.
Men, women and children were captured in the African interior and, during brutal return marches, were forced to collect the tusks and carry them back to the coast.
On arrival, the slaves and ivory were taken across the 20-mile wide channel to the island of Zanzibar for auction. The children and younger women were taken north to Arabia to serve in the houses and harems of the rich, while the men and older women were crammed into sailing ships and delivered to Brazil to labour on the thriving coffee plantations.
His first book, published on Kindle, was about the Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian.
Dr Clifford’s work in Kenya was recognized by the award of a World Health Organization scholarship to Durham University. On his return to the UK, he gained a master’s degree in health physics and taught science at a Birmingham college.
He later carried out doctorate research at Dundee University where he was a senior lecturer in community and occupational medicine for 12 years before retiring and turning his attention to writing.
For more information on the books, go to www.cliffordpeacockauthor.co.uk