Welcome back. Today I will be interviewing British historical fiction author Nigel Messenger. If, like me, you love military history, this one is for you!
PB: Hi! Welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
NM: Firstly Peter, thank you very much indeed for this opportunity.
I have worked in the Hospitality Industry most of my working life in London, Richmond, and Gloucestershire.I have worked at many levels in the Industry – as a kitchen porter and also as a general manager and managing director of a hotel company and my wife and I happily owned and ran a hotel in the Cotswolds for several years.We both really enjoy looking after people and trying to make their time with us very special.I have worked with the Poppy Factory for 30 years both as a Trustee, contractor and volunteer.I now work as a Hotel consultant mainly in London.I am a proud father and grandfather.
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
NM: I was fascinated by a story I read about archaeology in the Holy Land and how studies gave authenticity to many Old Testament events.I have cycled the length and breadth of Israel and Jordan twice and have been fascinated by the historic places.
PB: When did you first start writing?
NM: 2014. Having sold our hotel I decided to research a story of two battles, and I read everything I could lay my hands on and I started writing my book, The Miracle of Michmash. I had never written a word before this.
PB: When you begin writing a new novel, do you always know the ending?
NM: No. In my case it is a very disorganised and chaotic process.
PB: Tell us about your first novel.
NM: The British Army in WW1 were facing the Turks positioned on higher ground in Michmash in Palestine and were planning to engage them the following day. A British Major had heard of the place before and found Michmash mentioned in the Old Testament. 3000 years before, Saul and Jonathan were facing the Philistines in the same place. Jonathan found a secret passage whereby he was able to outflank the Philistines and he won a magnificent victory. The Major reported this to his General and he reasoned that the secret passage could still be there, and his men soon confirmed this. The British managed to outflank the Turks in the same way as the Israelites had done and won a resounding victory.
I was so amazed by this story that I determined I would find out more about the two battles. I travelled to Israel and the West Bank with my wife and granddaughter, and after some difficulty we found Michmash (now called Mukhmas) and the battlefield (the locals had never heard of the battles). I had all the material I needed to write my first book.
PB: If you could meet anyone who has featured in any of your books, who would you meet, and what would you say to them?
NM: In my second book, Megiddo, The Battles for Armageddon, I became fascinated with Deborah from the Old Testament and I really enjoyed writing about her. She was one of the best military tacticians in history and a strong, inspiring leader of the Israelites.
If I met her, I think I might be rather tongue-tied as I am so in awe of her achievements.I might be brave enough to ask her how she knew exactly when the rains would come, flooding the river and thereby disabling Sisera’s chariots.
PB: Where did the idea come from?
NM: My grandfather was in the Indian Army all his working life and fought in the Boer War and at the North West frontier. The battle of Kut in Mesopotamia ended badly for the British Indian Army when they were starved into submission by the Turks over a period of five months and he was responsible for rescuing the wounded, who were shipped down the River Tigris in appalling conditions. He took them from Basra by ship to Bombay and then by train to Simla in the cooler north. He encouraged one of the wounded men, who he knew from before, to write to his sister, a nurse in England, to travel there to look after him. Grandfather fell for the nurse and of course the rest is history!
Action also takes place in India, Mesopotamia, Arabia and South Africa.
PB: Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
NM: Spending a year raising money for a management buyout.
PB: What is your favourite book series to read and why?
NM: I have always loved the Wilbur Smith novels. As well as writing thrilling stories, reading his books are a great way of learning about history.
PB: What are your long-term ambitions with regards to writing?
NM: I would like to become a good enough author to write full time.
PB: If you weren’t an author, what career would you be in?
NM: I have very much enjoyed my hospitality career, but I would have also liked to have been a doctor.
PB: What’s the next target for you?
NM: I am writing my fourth book, Doctors at War, about WW1 in Malta and Salonika, the blitz in London, code breaking, the Battle of the Atlantic and the battle of Kohima, all involving family members once again.
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
NM: When he was Prime Minister, I managed to persuade John Major to join my Rotary Club.
Well, an impressive note on which to end a fascinating interview! Thank you so much to Nigel Messenger for taking the time to speak to us today.
If you would like to purchase his books or find out more about Nigel himself, you can do so via the below links:
Until next time, happy reading!