Mixing his interests of sailing, World War II history and music in an unconventional way, ‘39 The Ship In The Storm is an intriguing historical mystery about a commandeered British navy ship that disappeared in 1939, only to reappear 100 years later in a world where relations between the UK and US are strained.
The idea for the book was originally inspired by the Queen song ‘39. “The idea of a ship going away and coming back to find everything else had moved on 100 years, I thought that was quite interesting,” said Clive. “What would happen if they suddenly appeared there? How would people’s reaction be to the ship? Coupled with my interest in WWII history, that gave me the impetus to write this story.”
‘39: The Ship In The Storm is Clive’s fourth published book, and was largely written during COVID lockdowns that allowed Clive to take an unofficial sabbatical. Inspired by the works of mystery authors like Dan Brown, Clive’s conception of the story would regularly change while creating the manuscript: “It seemed to evolve as I was writing, and I couldn’t plan it all in advance. I just carried on creating and felt it out.”
Having grown up in rural England, Clive’s own nautical experiences are lifelong. He began sailing on the lakes and rivers of England and has since sailed over the world, including in the Caribbean where Clive taught the art of mastering the waves for six months when he was younger.
In those varied travels, Clive has worked more than 20 occupations. His wide array of experiences often dictate the content of his books, which he writes from his long-time home in Galston.
Camp Caribbean and Travelling Tales are such works; the former draws on Clive’s experience teaching sailing in the Caribbean to create a semi-autobiographical story, while the latter is a collection of entertaining stories from his travels.
Clive’s latest novel further expands upon his long relationship with the sea. He said: “It’s something about the fact that the sky is so vast and the ocean is so huge that you just feel like you’re part of nature.”
It’s a sensation that he loves to share – each Wednesday, he volunteers with the Making Waves Foundation to teach disadvantaged teens how to sail while instilling in them key social skills.
Writing and literature brings Clive a great amount of joy, appreciating its value as a creative outlet: “It’s about being able to express myself in a way that wouldn’t come out verbally, and really being able to provide a visual image,” he said. “I enjoy teaching creative writing as well, getting students to think about what happens in a story so that they can better understand it.”
You can order ‘39: The Ship In The Storm on Clive’s website, https://www.clivethomas.com.au.