Board by David C. Flanagan
David Flanagan came from a long line of seafarers and thought learning to surf would be easy, despite the fact he was scared of the ocean and fast approaching middle age. As a journalist living in an island community, he had intended to write a light-hearted account of his progress towards surfing nirvana, but instead found himself facing danger, doubt and the spectre of childhood bereavement in an often wild and unwelcoming sea. Meanwhile on land, and back riding a skateboard after a 30-year-gap, David found himself facing bemusement, ridicule and the wrath of the medical profession. But his decision to turn back the clock to the 1970s would also prove remarkably life changing and, occasionally, utterly catastrophic. Warm, funny, touching and honest – with a strong dose of adrenalin – Board explores loss, ego, fear and fatherhood, charting a quest for inner peace against a backdrop of thundering Atlantic waves. At its heart, Board is an inspiring story about accepting some limitations and overcoming others, while completely ignoring common sense and social convention.
Inspired By Feature
David Flanagan is an award-winning journalist and writer based in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Born, raised and educated in Edinburgh, he studied journalism in the city and worked briefly for the Edinburgh Evening News before deciding daily newspapers weren’t really his thing. After returning to his ancestral home of Orkney in 1990, he spent three years as a reporter with local weekly newspaper, The Orcadian, before moving into public relations work. He’s been freelance since 2002, producing news and feature articles for a wide variety of publications, in addition to undertaking copywriting projects for clients throughout the UK. He’s occasionally appeared on TV and once managed to skateboard on camera while delivering a news report.
When not surfing or skateboarding badly, he enjoys walking in the Scottish mountains, lifting weights and training in martial arts. He also has a passion for action movies and cries when watching Rocky. He is currently working on his second non-fiction book, though the title is still under wraps.
Can you tell us about someone who inspired your writing in some way? What it means to you now and if you could say anything to them what would it be?
As a journalist and non-fiction author, it’s perhaps unsurprising that factual works have been the focus of my reading for most of my life. I’ve long been inspired by the lives and endeavours of others, told in their own words. I’ve many favourite non-fiction works – mostly about exploration, sports or adventure – but the books that planted the writing seed in my mind, as a teenager, were the early works of Scottish climber, naturalist and broadcaster, Tom Weir.
Weir’s desire to share his love of the outdoors through writing and make a career of it too –going against the grain somewhat of his Scottish working-class upbringing – was hugely inspirational. It made me believe writing for a living, and writing about one’s passions, was possible, regardless of background. If he was still around, I’d thank him for that.
What words of advice would you offer anyone starting their writing career?
Get on with it! Write and don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s a waste of time. It’s staggering how discouraging people can be towards those who decide they want to write. I also think it’s important to find your own voice early on and not write in a particular style or genre that you think might be commercially more attractive. Do your own thing and, if it’s good, it’ll find its place in the market.
What does being a writer mean to you?
As a journalist, I’ve spent over 25 years producing work for newspapers and magazines that, by its nature, has a short lifespan. Equally, you generally forget about your work the moment it’s sent to an editor as you’re already onto the next piece. But being a writer is a different experience, with a sense of ownership towards your work that’s unique. Sharing your own story is also intensely personal and, at the same time, it makes you feel quite exposed! It’s incredibly exciting too, with the knowledge that your book is out there in the world being read and, hopefully, enjoyed. The day your first book is published is unforgettable, but that’s just the start of its journey. Helping it reach and engage with readers is crucial and there’s nothing I enjoy more than receiving feedback on my work. Your book has a life and you have a responsibility towards it.
Finally, do you have a favourite bookish quote.
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”Groucho Marx
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