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Alex Willis is man of many talents. ‘My dad can do anything,’ say his children. ‘Alexander the Great,’ says his wife with a smile.
I spent my early years with the sound of riveting hammers on the Clyde ringing in my ears. Then as the family outgrew the Port Glasgow home they moved to various houses around the suburbs of Glasgow.
At the young age of 16, I left school and joined the Royal Navy directly after my 17th birthday. This was not a mutually happy arrangement and after three years being trained as an engineer, I left to explore other avenues for a career.
My family emigrated to the USA in early 1967, bored and at a loose end I joined them in December that year. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision. Within a few months of arriving I had registered for the draft but was classified as 4A having already served in the Royal Navy.
I was hired by the PT&T to work in the Palo Alto, California, telephone exchange, maintaining the switching equipment and short haul carrier systems.
Not being challenged enough with his full-time job, I took to building and racing motorcycles on the clubman circuits of Northern California. One engine blowup to many saw me change direction and declare I was going to build a boat and sail the oceans of the world.
Plans for a 45 foot (later stretched to 51 feet by adding a bowsprit) ocean going ketch were purchased, space in the marina rented and construction began. As the building of the boat progressed, I met and married my wife, Nancy. Three years after starting construction, the boat was launched and suitably named, Nancy L. It wasn’t long before the sound of tiny feet could be heard running up and down the deck.
After sailing the San Francisco Bay and short trips up and down the Pacific coast it was decided to sell the boat and relocate to England.
On arriving in the UK, I sought employment within the telecom industry. After fortyish attempts at finding work, I found a position as installation supervisor with a local private telecom company. This was short lived as the company over-extended itself and I was found to be surplus to requirements, made redundant. But all was not lost, I ended up becoming self-employed and very quickly became an employee of my own company. When my previous employer finally ceased to trade, some of their customers became my customers.
For a hobby I took to making acoustic guitars and showing them at folk festivals and having friends playing my guitars. From my love of making guitars came my love of writing about guitars. The highly successful book “Step by Step Guitar Making” was the result of this endeavour, now in its second and expanded edition. I’ve even written a novel about a guitar maker, “The Falcon”.
Not satiated from writing my guitar making book, I turned to one of my first loves, storytelling. My first novel, “The Penitent Heart”, inspired by the story of the Prodigal Son was the catalyst to inflame my desire to write. With the publication of my first book, I was encouraged by my friends at the Hastings Writers Group to keep going with my writing.
From there I started writing the DCI Buchanan series. Stories about a Glasgow cop Jack, Buchanan seconded to the genteel town of Eastbourne.
I now keep busy chronicling the further exploits of DCI Jack Buchanan and his sidekick DS Jill Street. You can read more about DCI Jack Buchanan and DS Street on the Buchanan Cast page of my website.
As an aside to writing, I have taken up basic bookbinding, and am always happy to find time to give talks on creative writing and self-publishing. Signed copies of all of my books, both in paperback and hand-bound hardbacks, can be purchased direct from me, click here to get in contact. The remainder of my time is taken up being a gregarious grandfather, househusband, going for walks with my wife, cycling and helping on the family allotment.
Books by Alex Willis
The Missing Heiress
The Reluctant Jockey
The Mystery of Cabin 312
The Laminated man
The Bodies in the Marina
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