Writing, cancer and Jack Carey

I’ve had a very good, even charmed, life. I have been personally fulfilled and professionally successful. I have a wonderful, wonderful wife, seen my four children grow into great adults and I am now blessed with five lovely grandchildren. I’ve travelled extensively, worked in many countries and spent three years swanning around the world giving talks on cruise ships.

What could possibly go wrong? Having felt a little stiff and having some loss of appetite in 2012 I was devastated to be told that not only did I have prostate cancer but it had spread to my bones and was incurable. What is it like to be told you have ‘advanced prostate cancer’ and to see the bone scan results with graphic, chilling evidence of cancer deposits all over your bones? Terrible! I felt vulnerable, isolated, frightened and depressed.

My entire family has been tremendously supportive and I have been touched by offers of support from friends and acquaintances. But I knew I would have to find the strength to deal with this myself. The ‘why me?’ question is hard to resist but, of course, pointless. I realised long ago that life isn’t fair. It is what it is and you just have to get on with it but that is sometimes easier said than done.

The one encouraging note came from my consultant who, while not promising any cures, told me we would be having a long journey together so my next step was to decide what I wanted to do on the journey. I’ve been everywhere in the world I want to go. I reached the top of my profession as a professor and consultant and I’d thought I’d probably done my share of public service running a Probation Service, serving as a magistrate, appointing judges and working as a school governor. So what to do?

Many years before, I embarked on writing a couple of novels and then abandoned them. The initial plot ideas came flooding back into my mind and so I decided to ‘give it a go’. I have written a number of non-fiction books but fiction writing is quite different and, what’s more, I found I loved it. I can forget about my cancer and throw myself into a story-telling, make believe world in which I control all the characters and outcomes.

In 2014, I finished them. I had two manuscripts, THE POTOMAC PLOT is an exciting political thriller set in the United States and THE CORCOVADO CONSPIRACY-another even more exciting political thriller set in Brazil. I decided I needed a new identity as a fiction writer. I chose JACK partly because it sounds like a thriller writer’s name and partly because it was my Welsh grandfather’s who was a self-taught, working-class intellectual and the probable source of the brains in the family. And then I chose CAREY which is my mother’s family name and all of them were great Irish story-tellers.

 JACK CAREY was born, the two novels are published as eBooks on Amazon and I am working on the third thriller in the series. I’m enjoying life and living it to the full. Cancer is a serious illness. It may even kill you eventually but we all have to die of some disease, sometime, so, in the meantime, get on with something you feel passionately about. I promise you your life will never be the same again.

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