Dr. Rob Mohr was one of my earliest mentors and his encouragement has meant a lot to me, beginning from my earliest days with the Ajijic Writers Group. He is a literary and art critic and now lives in North Carolina and has sent this letter to me about THE GAME THAT NEVER ENDS.

"I finished THE GAME THAT NEVER ENDS, that Mel Goldberg had reviewed, and found the story a good one ... just before the end it got a bit slow as Sandy was leaving his job with Goran. That might have been a good place to have him mature a bit from his experiences. John Fowles’s, DANIEL MARTIN, was all about Daniel's growing up in his thirties.

The cricket and rugby matches were very interesting, and afforded a real learning experience. I think that if you had put a brief of the rules in the back of your book ... it would have made the process a bit easier to understand. (DAH note: a few readers have made similar comments to me. Perhaps I could have been explained the games more but readers come from all parts of the world and many of them do know the games well and might find that pedantic, but I will consider it in the second edition.)  

Sandy proved to be a super hero when it came to sports. Your human interactions were good as well as the dialogue. A trick Fowles used was to have some of the other characters be the voice over in some of the chapters. I think it would have been illuminating to have Pippa narrate one of her chapters. Or even Alex. (DAH note: A great idea!)

The ending was well done and was a perfect closing for those of us who were rooting for those two to get together.

You character development for the various women was very well done -- they were each their own person. In future novels you may want to handle the sex in a less graphic way: more sensuality and mystery. Their inflection, scent, sound of voice, and so on...

Overall, I believe you did a very good job ... especially with the character development, the structure, the human interactions, and the dialogue. None of that is easy.

Congratulations ... yours Rob Mohr"

 

 

 

 

Mary Hadfield of Yonkers, New York wrote:

I wasn't sure I would like this book as I understood that while it was an adult love story, and I emphasize adult, there were sequences about games that I knew nothing about. The author weaves cricket and rugby football into the story but I found they added great interest. I suspect the author wrote from life and what an interesting life it was. His descriptions of San Francisco in the 1960s as well as Oxford, London Siena and Stockholm were delightful. Most love stories I read are written by women with women as the main character and it was eye opening to read about it from the man's side. The author has a fast paced style and I enjoyed every minute of the book. I finished it at two in the morning in just three days. I was hoping the game would never end.

 

Gerry Flynn of Brentwood, California wrote:

I had a tough time with the first cricket game but most important it was for me a page turner and made for a few late nights.

Note to readers: the first cricket game is 3 pages but sets up the rest of the story.

 

My new book THE GAME THAT NEVER ENDS is finally ready for publication. It should be available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle (and the other eBooks sites) by mid November 2016.

The About the Book description on the back cover reads:

"In 1953 Sandy and Alex meet and fall in love in Adelaide, South Australia. She comes from a wealthy Catholic family and he is the son of a shopkeeper and an Anglican. Her mother has marriage plans for her and takes Alex to Italy to keep them apart. He goes to Oxford University where he achieves great success in cricket and rugby football. For the next seven years their love has to overcome many conflicts and is sorely tested by a tragic event and her Catholicism. In 1961 now working in San Francisco and believing Alex lost to him forever, Sandy falls in love and marries Kate but Alex, now finally free of her marriage, returns to him plunging his life into chaos. Will he be able to bring an end to this never ending game?"

One of the good things about writing a book is that some of the content needs to be well researched. Pursuing this end I made a trip to Australia in June (2016) which happened to coincide with the England national rugby team's tour of Australia. Since the book also has rugby football content I was able to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak!

Here is the cover:

 

 

When I presented the book to Joe Wiegand (see photo below) he promised that he would read it and send me his critique. He posted a review on Amazon and wrote to me that he loved it so much he wanted my permission to send it to a California screenwriter - he thinks it is Hollywood material! I reproduce his review here:

"In the last ten years, I've read nearly everything Theodore Roosevelt wrote, and a great deal of what has been written about him, including the great works by Hagedorn, Morris, McCullough, Brinkley, Kearns-Goodwin, and more. Without a doubt I have just read the work of historical fiction that stands out as the story that would best make a tremendous screenplay and film. All the ingredients are here: history, romance, intrigue and action. David Adamson Harper has woven a beautiful mola, and laid it across the flesh and bones of amazing history. A bully good tale, highly recommended."

Thanks Joe, and I'll make sure that Daniel Day Lewis does not get the part.

 

I was invited to the Panama Canal Centennial celebrations at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The university’s library houses the Panama Canal Museum Collection and my book HOW TEDDY TOOK PANAMA has been added to the collection.

At the Centennial banquet I presented a copy of my book to the Teddy Roosevelt reprisor who entertained us after dinner. It was a wonderful evening and I have added a number of pics to the photo gallery section of the blog.

 

 
On Saturday August 2, I spoke at the British Society monthly lunch in Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico. The subject was "Panama and the Canal at 100". It attracted the highest attendance this year.

I spoke after lunch had been served and my presentation was very well received. The question time afterwards was very lively. One American gentleman wanted to know if I was responsible for giving away the Panama Canal, along with President Jimmy Carter, and I replied that he really should read the book and then he would understand why it was the right thing to do in 1976. He did purchase the book and asked me to sign it as did a number of other attendees.

(photo attached shows me speaking in front of a Mexican Indian mural and the title of my book is just visible on the left, attached to the podium.)

 

Authors of historical fiction worry about getting their facts right and hope that an academic of the period will not come along and refute anything you wrote. Today I received an email from one such gentleman and his remarks, reprinted below, made my day. The writer is Joe Wood, former President of the Panama Canal Museum Collection and a man I have never met. Thanks Mr. Wood.

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        I just finished reading your excellent book. I found it fascinating and revealing of some history of which I had previously not been aware. My grandfather was a Colombian soldier stationed in Panama during the 1903 revolution and remained in Panama once independence had been achieved, so I relate personally to your story.

        Your descriptions of the characters and places were spot on and brought me back to a time lived through stories told to me by my grandparents. Thanks for bringing this wonderful story to light.

----------------------------------------------------------------

When you read "How Teddy Took Panama" you will see that the soldiers of the Colombian garrison in Panama City feature in the narrative, so to have the grandson of one of them congratulate me on being spot on is very gratifying.

 

For those who have asked I can confirm that the new photo was taken last week (June 3, 2014). An up to date image was required by the Author Marketing group. The marketing campaign for HOW TEDDY TOOK PANAMA will commence (in the USA) on July 1, 2014. It will be running full blast when the 100th Anniversary of the Canal opening is celebrated on August 15, 2014.

 
HOW TEDDY TOOK PANAMA by David Adamson Harper

      (an historical novel of 90,000 words)

Theodore Roosevelt's greatest achievement as President was the Panama Canal. Historians have never discovered how Teddy managed to bring about the conditions that allowed the USA to obtain a very favorable treaty in 1903. It granted the USA not only the right to build the canal, but also to create the Canal Zone, a US colony in Panama.

HOW TEDDY TOOK PANAMA tells the explosive story behind the history. How he did it. How his secret service agent Jack Quinn helped the rebels in Panama gain independence from Colombia. How an obscure Frenchman, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, came to represent Panama and give the USA everything Teddy wanted in the treaty. How insider knowledge financially benefited a select
few Americans.

Jack Quinn, who had served with Teddy and the Rough Riders in Cuba, is sent to Panama to help bring about their rebellion. Once there he falls in love with a beautiful Panamanian woman. He fights a duel against the man who poses a threat to the rebels, a brutal Colombian colonel, who is also the
husband of the woman Jack now loves.

MY QUALIFICATIONS: I worked in Panama when the new treaties were negotiated in 1975/6 and assisted the State Department by speaking in favor of them to both skeptical American audiences and a hostile Canal Zone population. After the treaties were ratified I was appointed US Consular Agent in Colon, Panama, when the Canal Zone reverted to Panama in 1979.

When researching the original 1903 treaty for my speaking engagements, I learned how US support helped Panama achieve independence, thus laying the groundwork for the 1903 treaty. History hinted that Teddy was more involved than was known and I knew there was a story waiting to be told.

Now a writer, retired from a career in the maritime industry, HOW TEDDY TOOK PANAMA is my second novel. It is an historical romance based on this momentous time in American history. Its sparse writing style could translate easily into a motion picture in the manner of Spielberg's "Lincoln", but with a love story and more action.

PUBLICITY: In 2014, the Panama Canal's one hundredth anniversary will receive worldwide publicity; a year or so later the opening of the third set of locks will revive more interest. There are legions of Teddy Roosevelt fans out there and this is the first novel ever written that features him.

David Adamson Harper
Email: dharper@seanet.com

 

I finished your book KWANGCHOW last night – well 03.15 in the morning to be exact. It really was an excellent read.

I do not agree with the chap who felt Freddy was too perfect. I agree with you that one prefers one's heroes to be exceptional rather than average.

I hope he ended up a happy chap in Brisbane!

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Editor's note - The Bailiwick of Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands - British possessions off the north coast of France. Many of the Brits who live there do so for tax reasons, although I'm sure Clifford and Judith live there because of the natural beauty of the island!


 

HOW TEDDY TOOK PANAMA is finished but the polishing will continue until I find an agent willing to take it on. Writing a book is the easy part trying to find a publisher, or an agent, is excruciatingly hard.

Who really knows what will sell? There are great authors out there who never get recognized. Chad Harbach spent ten years trying to get an agent for his "The Art of Fielding" and in the end only got one because an author friend of his insisted that his own agent read it. It was so good that they auctioned it to the highest bidder and on publication it immediately went on the NY Times top ten list and had rave reviews. I found it a fascinating read.

So what's wrong with agents that they didn't see it? The problem is that agents are inundated with book queries and most don't have the time to spend reading more than the query letter as they are also serving their existing clients. If it doesn't strike them as something they can sell to a publisher then they wont bother with it. 

So like thousands of others I'm sending out my query letter and hoping. I know I'm not the next Ernest Hemingway or even Bernard Cornwell (one of my favorite historical novelists - the Sharpe series, et al.). But I know I have a good story and one day...

 

Some people have asked me where the photo of me that appears on the back cover of my book KWANGCHOW came from. It is a picture taken at a ship party, on the KWANGTUNG, in Kobe, Japan in 1959. I am in the middle and Sparks, who featured in the book is to the left of me. On the extreme left is George Latham, Third Engineer.

George was my model for the character of Jim Lathrop, 3/E, who also appears heavily in the book. I have to thank him for sending me the photo, from over 50 years ago, and also for immediately remembering me when I called him in Australia in 2011. I had found him through the Swire Mariners Association who still keep the good old days alight through the wonders of the world wide web.

 

One of the gratifying things about writing KWANGCHOW - Freddy Everard on the China Seas, is that it has brought me in touch with many people from those days - 1959-61. Some I never knew and others were in fact old friends and colleagues long lost in the mists of time.

One such person is Geoff George. We sailed together for about a year on the HUPEH, he as chief officer and me as second officer. He heard of the book and wanted a hard copy that I finally managed to get to him late last year. The period I wrote about is actually earlier than my time with him on the HUPEH but some of the bits in it were written from memories of our time together

Like most of us he left the sea and had another career, his was with the Australian Government. So it was with some trepidation that I waited for his views on the book. After all he was there and he knew me well. What if he thought it was rubbish? Today I received his reply - he had been gone for some time in Asia.  Here is what he wrote to me (about the book).

"I enjoyed KWANGCHOW greatly. It certainly brought the old days to life in all its gory details. You have an easy writing style, which meant I finished the book rather more quickly than I usually do. My only slight reservation is about the main character, who is just a bit too perfect for me. I prefer somewhat more flawed heroes. That aside, I can see you have what it takes to be a writer. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity of re-living my life in China Nav all those years ago. Good luck with the Roosevelt/Panama Canal work. "

I did intend the main character to be likable, in line with advice gained from writing seminars and conferences I have attended. And after all Freddy is my alter ego. But of course Geoff knew me well and knew that I was never "too perfect" and I certainly can't argue with that.

But all in all another happy reader so my day was made. Thanks Geoff.

 

We recently returned from attending the 2012 Reunion of Old Worcesters to celebrate the founding of our Naval College 150 years ago. It was a wonderful event attended by 600 OW's and guests that lasted three days. The final event was a grand banquet at the Portsmouth Guildhall where HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) was our guest of honour. She gave a very complimentary speech and mentioned her surprise to learn of some of the far flung places we had come from. Australia had the most in numbers and she said "there is also someone from South America." Her geography (or that of her staff) was a little off as the only one who came close to South America was me and as you all know Mexico is in North America.

Because of HRH's security no photographs were allowed (except the official photographer) but my friend, Terry Milne, took one of Susan, his wife and me after HRH had departed - see it in the photo gallery section.

I was glad she finally left so I could loosen my collar and bow tie as it was killing me. It appears that I have put on a little weight since I last wore my tux and dress shirt. Susan and I decided that this would be the last time those clothes would be worn and we left them at the Royal Maritime Club for the housekeeper when we checked out the following day.

I also took the opportunity to sell more copies of my book KWANGCHOW. Some of the OW's (and wives) present had already read it (they got it via Kindle even as far away as Australia) and I was again happy to receive many kind words from them. One Australian lady kept asking me "Did you really do all those things?" but I avoided a direct answer as I detected that she really wanted to talk about the sex parts.

It was wonderful seeing many of my OW shipmates, most of whom I hadn't laid eyes on for 55 years. 

 

As I write my new book - working title "How Teddy Took Panama" - I have to do additional research to check facts and make sure I get all the historical content correct. It is a novel and I have invented the main character - Jack Quinn - a US Secret Service Agent - but all the other main characters are straight from the history books. I have four different historical accounts of the basic story that I am weaving my novel around and I also rely on the internet for other corroboration. 

However even though I have known the true history for many years the exploits of the Frenchman Philippe Bunau-Varilla continue to amaze me. He must rank as one of history's greatest con men. He alone was the cause of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, one that even US Secretary of State John Hay admitted was grossly unfair and gave the USA more than it ever wanted or expected. Yet such were the times and the dangers of potential retaliation from Colombia weighed heavily on the minds of the rebels in Panama.

Such was the chutzpah of this Frenchman, who hadn't visited Panama in 18 years, that he designed and had sewn up a flag for the new nation as well as giving them a draft Constitution. The Panamanians thought he represented the USA and the USA thought he represented the Panamanians. His motivation was only the opportunity to sell the old French Canal Company stock (which was worthless if the USA did not take up the canal) he and others owned and the glory of France and himself. A truly amazing figure and one my fictitious hero has difficulty controlling.

I hope to have the book finished and ready for publication by the end of the year.

Check photo gallery for an image of this famous Frenchman.

 

A lot of people ask me what does Kwangchow mean? Well in the case of my book by that name it is the name of the ship our hero sailed on.

In the old Chinese romanized spelling Kwangchow referred to the City of Canton. Kwangtung was the way the Province of Canton (as opposed to the city) was spelled. In the current Pinyin spelling Kwangchow is spelled Guangzhou. Romanizing a language like Chinese is always fraught with error but as pointed out in the book the actual Chinese characters have never changed but only the way they are written for Gweilo's (read the book and you'll understand).

I have attached a picture of the motor vessel Kwangtung in the gallery section. This was the ship I actually sailed on.

 

The photo gallery does have my plotting chart on it and I also added a picture of my editor - she is a hard taskmaster.

Click on the thumbnails and they will enlarge (I think).

 

I am currently hard at work on my new book - working title: How Teddy Took Panama.

It is an historical novel about the original Panama Canal Treaty (1903) that involved the secession of Panama from the United States of Colombia. I have been interested in this subject ever since I worked in Panama, originally from 1962 to 1965 and again from 1974-1984. On both occasions there were riots and turmoil about the unfairness of the original treaties and the creation of a Canal Zone in perpetuity.

Historians have long known that much of what happened was covered up and that Teddy Roosevelt did much more than he ever admitted. Writing it as a novel allows me to put forward my own theory about what really happened. The hero is a US Secret Service agent, Jack Quinn, on special assignment and reporting only to the President. All the main characters are in the book including Secretary of State John Hay and the infamous Frenchman Philippe Bunau-Varilla the authors of the original (Hay-Bunau-Varilla) treaty that gave the US rights to the Canal Zone in perpetuity. 

As it is a novel there is of course a love story involving Jack Quinn and beautiful and slightly mysterious married Panamanian lady. 

I have had to have a plotting board to make sure I get all the facts and dates right and I am enclosing a photo of it below (I hope)

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