RETIRED oil rig diver has published a compilation of short stories inspired by the 12 years he lived in a Teesdale village.
E Van Johnson, who is also an accomplished musician and ran Barnard Castle Folk Club for several years, set the short stories in Bowes, after retiring to Mallorca.
The author lived at Greydykes Cottage after moving to the village in 1974.
He said: “We only had £5,000 savings and I did not want to go into debt so we looked around and finally found the cottage in Bowes which I bought at auction. I was working in the North Sea on a two weeks on, two weeks off schedule.
“My wife and son loved animals so we purchased two adjoining plots of land and we ended up buying two dogs, two cats, a pair of geese, four lambs and a goat.”
He began writing in the same year. “Though I was employed as a saturation diver and working all over the world, I also wrote plays for TV,” he said.
“During that time I wrote several short stories all relating to the cottage and the surrounding area and people.”
Between, writing, diving and renovating the cottage, he also organised several music concerts to raise cash for the local Cubs and Scouts.
The author’s colourful life went on to include working in Richmond Park as a tree-feller, acting as a lifeguard and racing yachts, commercial diving, offshore oil industry diving in Libya and Saudi Arabia and even running his own bar, water ski and diving school in Cyprus.
He said: “I retired to Majorca, in Spain, in 2010 and began writing full time and have published seven books. Among them is a compilation of short stories including a section entitled Village Tales.”
The stories include The Greydykes Pansy, a fantasy set against the Roman occupation and a modern Christmas dinner; The Baby Jesus Lamb, set against the run up to Christmas and the bad winter weather in Bowes; Dotheboys Hall, a ghost story with a twist and The Old Dog, a tale about the hunting of a dog that had been dumped on the moor and become a sheep killer.
Mr Johnson’s book is called Fistful of Strange Tales and is available electronically through Amazon or in paperback through Createspace.