Today, I bring you a guest post by author Graham Hunter. Graham tells us about the inspiration behind his book titled 'Comrades, Concubines, And Lovers'. The book is based on his real life experience travelling the world for his job, and what a story it is. What an adventure he must have had. This book has now been added to my 'to be read' list, as it sounds fantastic. How about I let Graham tell you more.
Hayley has kindly asked me to write a piece about how I came to write my book, so here it goes.
At the age of 34, in 1985, and after a disastrous 13 year marriage, I filed for divorce, and at the same time took on new job as International Sales Manager selling some newly developed Medical Image Analysers around the world. The world was my oyster as they say, but I was specifically asked to cover Africa, India, The Far East, Australasia, and Eastern Europe, behind the Iron Curtain. Eastern Europe and the USSR were places that very few salesmen wanted to go to because of the difficulties that communism imposed, and the general hardships of living there. My travel schedule was to be exhausting and would involve me being away from home for around 250 days a year. In one 3 week trip I remember going up Table Mountain in Cape Town, visiting the Taj Mahal in India, and riding a camel along the Great Wall of China, dressed in a pin stripe business suit.
I went through intensive product training as I would have to give lectures and demonstrations, but initially no one thought of giving me any training on how to survive in the communist countries, which resulted in me making several faux pas. Also, I had to learn the different cultures and customs of lots of different countries and found to my embarrassment, that what was acceptable in one, was certainly not in another. For example I was nearly made to stay in China to marry a lady because of an innocent mistake I made.
It was a good job that I had a strong stomach, as some of the food I had to eat would have sent a lot of people running to hand their notice in. Some delights included eating a whole fish whose head was still alive watching you eat its body, and a soup made from cow’s appendices, and live baby birds.
Naturally, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of lovely ladies and having been starved of a loving relationship for years, I reveled in my new-found amorous circumstances. I had girlfriends in South Africa, Hong Kong, Korea and Yugoslavia, who I visited regularly but then came Moscow. Of all the places in the world to pick, I fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful girl in Russia. Without giving any of the story away, my book is centered around my attempts to marry her without knowing if I would ever get her out of the USSR. I took on the might of the KGB and the “Soviet System” and experienced things that would have challenged the skills of James Bond! I was spied on, had my hotel rooms bugged, and was always aware of someone following me. I even had Special Branch following me in the UK when I invited an important Russian customer to visit the factory. It turned out he was my KGB minder!
In all I did 43 visits to Moscow and over 80 flights in and out of the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong, so you can imagine the experiences I had. For years I used to delight my friends telling my stories at dinner parties, some of them refusing to believe me, but all of them saying I should write a book. I had never written anything in my life except the odd scientific paper, so I never took up the challenge.
In April 2019 my mother died and the lady celebrant who took her funeral was also a professional ghost-writer. At the wake I told her some of my stories and she confirmed that I should definitely write a book. It had all the ingredients of a good read – sex, espionage, intrigue, and travelogues. She would do it for me for a large fee, but said it was better if I did it myself. Just start by writing everything down and worry about the style later was her advice.
In June 2019 I had to have some surgery and afterwards my surgeon banned me from lifting anything heavier than a pint of beer for 6 weeks. So, I decided to pick up a pen and started writing. Much to my amazement it started flowing. I had kept all my old diaries in which I had details of flights, hotels, expenses and personal tit bits so my first task was to create an Excel spread sheet, so I could get everything down in chronological order. I had also collected thousands of photos, which I could refer to when describing a particular scene or person.
By December I had written over 125,000 words in 40 chapters. By sheer chance I met a university student from the next village who was in her third year of a BA course in English and Creative Writing. When I told her about my book she jumped at the chance of editing it for me as a project. For weeks we went through it together with her giving me advice on how to rearrange my script to make it more interesting. She then introduced me to a friend of hers who was in her second year at university doing a BA in Art, who took on the brief to design a cover for me. Her idea was to depict three artistic impressions of city scapes. The top one is Moscow – Comrades, the middle one is Hong Kong – Concubines and the bottom one London – Lovers.
By the end of March 2020 we had something we were all satisfied with so I put it together on KDP and Amazon accepted it at first presentation and published it on 29 April. Since then I have sold over 200 copies internationally with some amazing reviews, particularly from some American readers who described it as a real eye opener.
I hope that this has interested you enough to buy a copy or motivated a budding writer to start their story. Happy reading.
Thank you to Graham for sharing with us. I told you it is one hell of a story ! I look forward to reading it. If you would like to check it out, click on the links below.