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Thunder In The Distance Back Story

“Thunder” is my 20th book, a milestone never contemplated when I was writing the autobiography “Run Run As Fast As You Can”, learning a new skill, and trying to find a way to have it published, eventually succeeding through an American publisher, Trafford, in 2009.

Baby steps.

And now there is a process and key supporters and the milestone is a good time to mention two of them.


Jo Petzer of Cosmic Creations designed my last ten covers, ever since she became the agent to have the books listed on eBook platforms, and persuaded me to adopt a uniform approach to the covers.

It starts with a photograph of mine. This one was taken at 7.06pm on the 22nd of February 2014 at Okaukeujo Camp in Etosha, Namibia. It was taken with a Nikon D700 at an f-stop of 7.1 and speed of 1/25th of a second. The slow speed required a tripod.

It was our second visit to Etosha and this time we booked well in advance to obtain a chalet right on that famous waterhole. But we chose the middle of their short rain season and there was standing water throughout the reserve and a paucity of activity at the waterhole.

The picture is enhanced to enrich the colours and blur the images so that it appears to be a painting, a more dramatic effect.

Finally the template is overlaid: the standardised position and font of the title and author’s name, the back cover story in a white framed box, the ISBN barcode and the logo that Jo designed.


Jane Harley of Boutique Books designed the layout and text of 19 of my books and facilitated the printing process.

For “Thunder” she recommended a 19th Century font, in keeping with a story set 120 years ago, to give the book a timeless feel. The end result is terrific.

The song from which I took the title of the novel is called Revival in Belfast by Robin Mark.


“Thunder In The Distance” is an adventure story.

A young Scot comes to South Africa to fight in the Anglo Boer War, risking death for the chance of a better life in Africa if he survives. It is the immigrant mentality: leaving the homeland, sometimes in desperation, but always fuelled by hope.

That Fynn Armstrong is a Scot, and not English, Welsh or Irish is because the Black Watch Highland Regiment was the first British regiment to ever employ the tactic of sniping. Lovat’s Scouts was that first unit. It gives to the story an intriguing angle, and it gives to Fynn’s character some skills and personality traits that make him interesting and different.

The locations in the novel are South Africa, Bechuanaland and Rhodesia. The choice of location for South Africa is obvious, the war. Here are the reasons for choosing the other locations:

Bechuanaland. Fynn wanted to become a hunter, to experience the ‘wild’ lands and animals of his new continent. I chose to put him in the Tuli Block because my wife and I once stayed in a tented camp in the riverine forest of the Limpopo River in that territory.

It was the Impala rutting season and our nights were assailed with the ‘lion-like’ aggressive noises of the males. And in the morning the screams of the baboons as they disciplined the youngsters. It was eerie.

Rhodesia. I grew up in Bulawayo, and my father was employed by African Administration, the organisation that built and administered the locations. In the case of Bulawayo the predominant people were Ndebele, who feature in Part Three of the novel. As a Boy Scout I did many 2 or 3 day hikes in the Matopos Hills, carrying our provisions and sleeping under the stars. It left lasting memories.

Can you hear the nostalgia!

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