"Even in these liberal times... being gay can be very difficult”
Eastbourne author Chris Cheek is in print with Setting a New Course, the second instalment of The Navigation Quartet, a series about two working-class guys from York-shire and their developing relationship.
Chris offers it as a story about what happens when close friends reunite after growing apart and then become lovers – a novel which looks at the pressures on a new relationship caused by problems over a marriage break-up and a child custody dispute.
Chris was born and brought up in south London and now lives with his husband in Eastbourne after many years in the Yorkshire Dales. After a lifelong career in public transport, Chris began writing novels three years ago. Setting a New Course is Chris’s fifth.
Setting a New Course is published by 2FM Limited at £9.99, available from Amazon and by order from bookshops.
“The idea behind the series is to tell the story of two people, Alan and David, in a relationship over an extended period of around 15 years. Any couple can meet, fall in love and plan their ‘happily ever after.’ But what happens then?
“The book originated in a discussion between my partner of 42 years (and now husband) about the course of our relationship, and what we had had to face together – career changes, loss of parents and other family, financial problems – all the pitfalls and joys of modern life.
“After being best friends from the age of nine, David and Alan had not seen each other for six years after Alan had left their home town in Yorkshire for a life in London. Then, one February day, they met up by accident when Alan got on the bus that David was driving.
“Having reconnected immediately, the true depth of their feelings became clear despite the fact that David was now married with two kids. After David started a new job driving an express service to London, the two 25-year-olds began an affair – the course of which was the subject of the first book in this series, Veering off Course.
“Setting a New Course opens with the aftermath of David facing a major crisis on one cataclysmic August night. It’s a difficult time as he tries to come to terms with a new life in London with Alan, his feelings of guilt about his marriage and his fears for the future of his two sons, whom he misses terribly. The book tells the story of how the two cope with these problems whilst building a relationship between them.
“The idea for the book originated in my own experience earlier in my career running a bus depot in Yorkshire.
“I’d had my own problems about being gay and knew of other gay guys in the bus industry who struggled with their lives. I wanted to tell a story of such a life, and of how it might pan out.
“The book is aimed primarily at a gay audience, but also at people who want to understand how, even in these much more liberal times, the consequences of being gay can be very difficult.”
Chris’ first novel The Stamp of Nature was published three years ago and had been almost 50 years in the making. He’d started writing it in 1968.
“The original draft had been completed in the early 80s and accepted for publication.
“However, the publisher went bust, and then other circumstances – mainly a busy career as a transport consultant – got in the way, so the manuscript lay about gathering dust. At the end of 2017, with semi-retirement beckoning, I wondered whether I should do something with it.
“I discussed it with a friend who is an experienced editor. She liked the book and told me I should definitely do something with it. She recommended self-publishing, and worked with me on the manuscript, and it was launched in June 2018.”
“Since then, I’ve written two books in a series called Love in A Changing Climate, set around a small consultancy business, called respectively A Year of Awakening and Governing Passions, and the first two of The Navigation Quartet.
“I first started writing fiction back in 1968, at the age of 17 and wrote the first draft of what be-came The Stamp of Nature in my spare time over the next ten years or so. Struggling with my sexual orientation and the fear it created, the story was my outlet – a world into which I could escape, I suppose.
“In fact, I now realise that I’ve been telling stories for most of my life – whether in writing trade press articles, consultancy reports or my other transport publications. Coming back to fiction after 30 years has been hugely enjoyable and I spend too many of my waking hours dreaming up new plots!”