Photo Diary


DSC_0008, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

At last, it has happened. The silly season must be here!

It was last November when I had the idea to work with Conway Stewart on a series of pens.

Sounds a bit cocky, I know, but it’s how it happened. You see, I was walking the dogs up towards Spreyton and thinking about ways to move a story on, and wishing I’d brought a pen with me, when I began thinking about my pens.

Some years ago when I had one really good royalties payment, I invested the proceeds in a complete set of PG Wodehouse books that were still in print. That was about ninety books, and kept me quiet for months. Lovely.

The next time I had a good payment, however, the idea of a new pen had grabbed me. I thought of all the famous pens I knew of. I was determined to get something that was large and solid, a pen with a feel of the heyday of British pens, which to my mind is the 1930s to 1950s. So I looked around . . . and found Conway Stewart.

I remembered them from years ago. I think I used to have one when I was at school in the ‘60s, a gorgeous old black pen – but my memory could be playing me false.

Still, when I checked, Conway Stewart had a lovely black pen decorated with a series of solid gold bands. It had the look and feel of a 1940s pen, and the impression was only enhanced by its name: the “Churchill”. Well, since he’s a hero of mine, I was convinced. I bought one. It was with me for all the meetings I held with the Crime Writers’ Association while I was deputy and then Chairman.

A few years later, I decided I had to give up pistol shooting at last. In the past I’ve always been a keen pistol shooter, a great sport with an honourable tradition going back from modern men like Michael Bentine to Winston Churchill himself. It’s still appallingly ironic that it took a Scottish police force’s incompetence and twisting of the firearms rules to deprive hundreds of thousands of their sports.

But for me, air pistols were in no way comparable to firing real firearms. Although when my guns were taken away, the limited compensation went towards a very good airgun, it just wasn’t the same. So after a few years, I sold that pistol and bought with the proceeds something to allow me to remember my sports: a Conway Stewart Drake fountain pen.

These two pens, the Drake and Churchill are with me now as I type. They are used daily, and I adore them both. And it was because of these I began to think about Conway Stewart and a collaboration.

You see, as a company they have great products. But most were named for historical characters like “Drake”, “Raleigh”, “Nelson” and so on. Why not, I thought, have a series in which authors worked with Conway Stewart’s designers. The author could help by choosing the colour of the pen, advise on the weight, choose the number of gold rings to decorate it, and select an ink to go with it. And then, I thought, why not have the author provide a short story to go with the pen, something unique to the limited edition pen, that wasn’t available elsewhere? It would be fun for many authors to work on a project like that, I thought.

I didn’t expect to be asked to be the first author, though. Still, I am.

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