In our Writer Feature posts we put a spotlight on the talented writers who use their unique skills to bring out the stories of other people’s lives in a beautiful and meaningful way. We spoke with Story Terrace writer Philip Hamlyn Williams about his passion for writing and why he’s chosen to use his talent to help other people find their voice.
Philip Hamlyn Williams writes from his home in Lincoln, and is currently working with Story Terrace on a project related to a certain Stirling bomber.
Is there a specific moment you realised you wanted to pursue writing professionally?
I am massively lucky, for this is my third career! I discovered my love of writing quite late when I took a correspondence course in creative writing. I was aged 50 and had moved from the accounting profession into charity management with its huge communications challenges. I have been writing one way or another ever since, including my only spell in full-time university education when I took the MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth. Work is now doing what I enjoy. Was there a single moment? When I received an advance on my forthcoming book!
What types of writing projects do you look for?
When I completed my MA, I wrote a novel, Broken Bonds, which explored the effects of the banking crisis. My wife read it and I could tell from her expression that I had fallen short. A while later I handed her the first chapter of my forthcoming book. She read that too but this time she said, ‘you have found your voice.’ I love putting people’s histories into words. I have written in the context of WW2, but my next project begins in 1690!
Your first published book, War on Wheels, is set to be released in September 2016. Can you tell us a bit about it?
How long have I got? This was a labour of love. My Mum had kept albums some three or four inches thick of hers and my Dad’s war. Five years after she died, I opened them and was entranced. I found a man I hardly knew. When I, as a very young teenager, knew my Dad he was 70 and terminally ill. In these albums, he was Bill Williams, aged 45 and brimming with energy. He couldn’t have been more alive. He had been given the job of setting up a massive depot that would handle the vehicles that would give the British Army its wheels. Of course it wasn’t just him; some 250,000 soldiers, ATS and civilians were involved as they pressed ahead with tasks that had never been done before. Some failed, but they learned from their mistakes. They laboured long and hard and created a vast organisation that in the end triumphed. The story had never been told before, and such a vast enterprise would never happen again.
If you could choose any person in history to do a Story Terrace project with, who would it be?
William Smith Williams published the Brontes. He and his brother came to London in the late 17th century, their family having been for generations ‘dealers in hides’ just outside Oxford. As well as publishing some of the greatest writing in the English language, William Smith Williams and his wife produced some remarkable progeny: Anna Williams who in 1870 was Professor of Singing Music at the Royal College of Music and Sir Arthur Lowes Dickinson who was a founding partner of Price Waterhouse in the USA, to name but two. I would love to write their story.
We wouldn’t underestimate the power of your story and neither should you. Get in touch with the Story Terrace team to learn about how we can help you start creating your own Story Terrace book and read more about our talented writers on the Our Writers page.