The story behind the story (5) The Tinker
With work commitments in Bristol, I was a regular traveller down the M5. Being bored with the journey and with a little time; this one afternoon I decided to make a detour and take in some of the scenery of the Cotswolds. Using the A46, the old Fosse Way, I went through Stroud and stumbled on the village of Painswick where I decided to stop for a coffee. It was a glorious day and the village looked spectacular, particularly the church of St Mary’s which dominates the area. It's famous for its ninety-nine yew trees in the churchyard and I was told by the café owner that there is a legend that if anyone tries to plant number one-hundred the devil will come and dig it up!
That gives a feel for the village, quaint and picturesque, and I loved it. As I was sat drinking my coffee, an idea came to me. I could see the man quite clearly in my head, Michael, an itinerant worker, cycling into the village (which I named Drayburn), on his make-shift bicycle. What was his story I asked myself?
After Flying with Kites, this was my second fastest book to write, the story seemed to flow onto my laptop. The characters, the redoubtable vicar and his wife, the former Indian Army major who owns the Manor, the former TV soap-star and local celebrity, and the man-hungry local hairdresser, soon took on lives of their own.
The book is set in late May 1986, before the internet and mobile phones and there is an innocence and tranquillity in the opening chapter as the characters are introduced. This is soon shattered by a huge thunderstorm heralding Michael’s arrival. This year is his sixth visit having stayed at the vicarage doing odd-jobs for the previous five summers. This year, 1986, it will be different.
Gradually, hints start to appear about his background and when he is spotted by someone from his past, he and those around him are suddenly thrown into great danger. I won’t spoil the story, but I did a lot of research around the circumstances that led to Michael going on the road to ensure its accuracy.
Finally, a note about the cover. Again, it is taken from a photograph I took on that visit of St Mary’s Church wonderfully adapted by the graphics people at Fisher King.
I have been back to Painswick several times since and met many locals; I was asked to do a book-signing at their annual village fete but unfortunately a holiday commitment intervened
Readers Review; from a reader in Ohio
Every once in a while, literary magic happens, not often – just often enough to let you know it exists. Alan Reynolds has written several novels “Flying with Kites ~ The Sixth Pillar ~ Breaking the Bank” etc. - all well-crafted and with an easy to read voice. He is what is called in literary circles a competent author ~ he does the job to the satisfaction of his readers … with his latest novel he does more … much, much … much … more. From the moment you begin to read “The Tinker” you realize something special is taking place between you and the words written between the front and back covers. To quote page 5 - “Everyone was given a warm welcome…” The quiet village of Drayburn, nestled in the English countryside, is the perfect place to relax while on holiday or before drifting off to sleep at night with this book and a hot cup of cocoa on your bedside table. And you do relax. You do become part of the village, a friend to Michael … like all the rest. Literary magic is not about what the author puts on the page, but what he doesn’t. It is seeing an image that was never described with or without clever adjectives but is never-the-less there radiant between the lines. There is a growing tension somehow surrounding this unusual, seasonal, handy-man (Tinker) you can feel it … you want to keep reading but you don’t … you put the book aside for only a while. You want the feelings to last … like a summer love affair that you know has to end in September. When the violence starts, and you know it must … good literature is always about extremes … you are no longer able to put the book aside, for even a little while. Too soon it ends … and you want more … the book’s only flaw.