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Well-travelled Stortford author Brian Godfrey engineers a sequel to his book about a compassionate IRA terrorist

Brian Godfrey freely admits his early life was pretty uninspiring – but the second half spent travelling the world as an engineer has provided rich material for two novels.

It was a promise made to a young woman while working in Zambia in 1980 which first sparked his desire to write. However, circumstances dictated that it took Brian 35 years to fulfil that pledge.

"Naomi" told Brian an interesting and touching story of her life, and when he left the southern African country the promise was made to write a book about her experiences.

A posting in Iraq during the war with Iran got in the way, until Brian was pulled out of the war-torn country and told to take a holiday.

While taking the break on the Pacific island of Bora Bora he wrote the manuscript long hand. It remained that way while he was posted to Cape Town, South Africa, but on returning to the UK with a view to copying it for safekeeping, disaster struck when it was stolen from his car. The manuscript turned up in a canal, leaving Brian with the job of drying it out, page by page, when he returned to Cape Town.

"After I reached Cape Town and had settled in the office, I asked our secretary, Monica, to try to type the water-damaged pages and two weeks later returned a neatly typed version to me," said Brian. "It stayed this way for 10 years and gathered dust in my loft space in Bishop's Stortford."

Even when he had the chance to finally get the book into shape when he retired in 2015, he ended up writing another novel, based on true events, called The Compassionate Terrorist, which tells the story of an IRA man who, on hearing about a daring assassination plan for the opening ceremony of an oil terminal, takes it upon himself to change the course of events.

Finally, Umtata saw the light of day as the sequel. It sees trained assassin Barney establishing a new identity in a small South African town. His life takes a turn when he meets Naomi, a distressed and lonely mother separated from her children, not knowing if they are alive or dead. Barney takes on the challenge of helping to find them, not realising the immensity of the task and how it could expose him to the world.

Brian, now 77, launched both books at his home, raising £350 for Grove Cottage – the home of Mencap in Bishop's Stortford – in the process. Keen to help a local charity, he's hoping to increase that to £500 with more sales.

And before fans of the first two books have the chance to digest their contents, Brian was proud to announce he is busy writing the final book in the trilogy, The Sands of The Tigress, which is based in Iraq.

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