77-year-old Eltham author has first book published

PUBLISHED: 07:48 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 07:48 28 January 2014

The book was written on Don's trusty typewriter. Photo: Andy Barnes

The book was written on Don's trusty typewriter. Photo: Andy Barnes


They say it’s never too late to learn – and that was certainly the case for one 77-year-old author who has had his first book published.

The Captive Shadow is the debut novel from New Eltham author Don Kenefick.

Set in the contrasting eras of the 1930s and the early 21st century, the romantic “near-tragedy” book tells the tale of a father and son who never meet – and their longing to find love and start a family.

Set in the fictional London borough of Plumham, the book aims to fill the gap between “clichéd pulp fiction” and “modern day pretentiousness.”

There is also a deliberate undercurrent of social comment.

Don said: “The majority of modern novels rely solely on providing entertainment and distraction, but I’m convinced interweaving criticism into a work of fiction can be very effective.”

It has been a long journey for the grandfather-of-one, who was “elated” when his book was finally picked up by publishers Austin Macaluey.

“I started writing it in 2001,” explained Don,

“But life seems very tough for a new author who isn’t a famous footballer, a rock star or a famous criminal.

“It is hard to get a publishers interest but I was elated when it happened.”

Reading and writing isn’t just a hobby for Don, at the age of 39 he suffered a stroke and turned to books to aid his recovery.

“I started to study literature, and that gave me the incentive to write,” said the former insurance worker,

“I did a degree aged 50 at the Open University which majored in English literature.”

Don went on to achieve a master’s degree at the University of London and took up writing soon after.

But he believes getting published is only half the battle, with publicity also hard to come by.

“It is essential but very exhausting,” he confessed, “I hope this will be the start of my career.”

The book was written at home on Don’s trusty typewriter, and he admits he is “stuck in the dark ages” when it comes to technology.

“Thirty years ago if you sat on a train to London everybody would be reading a newspaper or a book,” he said,

“Nowadays everybody is on mobile phones or listening to music. I think that is why publishers are reluctant to give people like me a chance.”

The Captive Shadow is dedicated to wife Rita, daughter Tracy and 13-year-old granddaughter Phoebe, whom each received copies.

“They were very happy, but they would say that,” he joked,

“I’m really interested in the opinion of people I don’t know!”

Don will be promoting his book on February 4, when he delivers a speech about at the South East London Writer’s Festival event in his local library in Eltham.

And he has a message for any potential readers.

He added: “It is an appealing story because of its freshness. It is a thought provoking, compelling read.”

Don is interested in hearing readers’ feedback on the novel, and can be contacted on 020 8300 1670.

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