The Author's Key 'touchstones'
A pull towards military history passed from the author’s paternal great-grandfather, grandfather, and father, all variously enlisted and involved in the Fenian raids, WWI, and WWII . The grandfather was a route-marcher in 1915 through the very lanes of Surrey, England, near where Lilian Nichols, the real 'ambulance driver', now lies. The author’s late father, author of the Penguin History of Canada, took him as a boy to Gettysburg, where Mathew Brady photos from the (U.S.) Civil War implanted a fascination with early photography. Family and archival shots from WWI amplified all the above, focusing the author’s imagination on those 'frozen' moments in time - when you stare into Lincoln's eyes, or marvel at the cheerful smile on a 'Bluebird's ( WWI nursing sister ) tired face at Ypres.
Like many of you, Chris is a part-time dweller in the haunts of favourite poets and authors – an escape from the stress and banality of the every-day, re-connecting with images, emotions, and inspiration which once captured the inner self.
Which writers still 'hover' about the author ?
John Buchan ( The Thirty-Nine Steps, Prester John ), Robert Louis Stevenson ( Kidnapped, Treasure Island ), and Mark Twain ( Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn ) are peerless adventurers. John LeCarre ( the 'Karla' trilogy, The Russia House ), Graham Greene ( Brighton Rock, The Third Man, The Tenth Man ), John Steinbeck ( Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row ) all convey the deception and betrayal of human will and desire, in tandem with the sting of irony.
As for poets: Tennyson, R.L.Stevenson, A.E. Housman, Kipling, and Wallace Stevens, linger constantly; P.G.Wodehouse ( the Jeeves series ), Stephen Leacock ( Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town ), and John Mortimer ( Voyage Round My Father, the Rumpole series ) offer cerebral yet wicked laughter for the soul.
An early spell in Europe, the Aegean, and the near-East, and a very classical education – ‘the Classics’ (Greek & Latin), followed by ‘the Law’ ( the ethereal, crimped by the pedestrian !? ) left formative impressions on the author; no profound philosophy, but perhaps a vague sense that many things seem destined, or supremely orchestrated in a subtle way, but that we, as individuals, have the freedom to 'choose,' or stumble onto, the path set out for us, our fate or fortune.
The Ambulance Driver was Chris’ first novel. His second ( 2010 ) was The KELI DOWRY, based on his time as diver on an American dig in Greece during the Colonels’ dictatorship in the late 60s and early 70s. A third, The LINNET, a story of the new European republics, set in Ukraine.
Chris McNaught is an Ottawa writer, lecturer, and former criminal lawyer. He was educated at Jarvis Collegiate (Toronto ), Neuchâtel Jr. College ( Switzerland ), Trinity College ( U. of Toronto, Hons. Classics ), and the Faculty of Law ( U. of Toronto ). He is married, with three children. His other passions are water polo and watercolours.