The Cypress Branches is an epic work of fiction written by William E. Thomas and published by me, his grandson Mike Harris. This blog chronicles the journey I am undertaking to not only get my grandfather’s book discovered, but also to discover more about my grandfather.
The project began in 2009 by printing William’s epic book in hardback. William had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and he was rapidly losing his short term memory. My aim was to allow William to see his work in print before his illness robbed him of the chance to enjoy it. I worked on it myself, using my copy-editing, proofreading and creative skills to produce a beautiful book, of which 108 copies were printed.
Those books were sold to family and close friends, and that’s where I thought the journey would end. But feedback from readers was incredibly positive. It turned out I wasn’t the only one who loved reading William’s books! So, attention turned to releasing the novel in paperback and ebook form.
Since 2009, I have been working hard to turn The Cypress Branches into a series of shorter novels, transforming it into a trilogy whilst retaining the integrity of William’s original concept and vision. Pegasus Falling, part one of the trilogy, was released in 2012 and It Never Was You, the second instalment in 2013. Work now continues to release the third instalment.
Through this blog I aim to chronicle the journey I am taking to get William’s work out into the world, the lessons learned along the way, and hopefully to pass on a little bit of wisdom to others who venture into the self-publishing realm.
I would love to hear from readers, so if you have any questions, if you are a blogger interested in featuring William’s work or his story, or you’d like to find out more information, please drop me a line.
William E. Thomas
2nd September 1925 – 19th February 2014
William Edward Thomas was born in West London in 1925.
He left The Brompton Oratory School when he was 14 and started work as a messenger at the BBC. When war broke out, his mother insisted he left central London and went to work with his father at a factory in Harrow. While still a teenager, William joined the army and was soon recruited in to the parachute regiment. By the time peace had been declared in Europe in May 1945, he had been “dropped” in to a number of key battles and become a much decorated soldier. He was still only 19 years old.
Following the war, William served in Palestine until 1948.
He always believed passionately that education leads to opportunity and studied part time for both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was proud to be one of the first students to enrol with The Open University.
William has six children. As they were growing up, he was working and studying in shifts as a merchant seaman and an engineer, working his way from factory shop floor to management. In his mid fifties, he decided to work full time as a lab technician at his Alma Mater, The Open University and remained there until his retirement. It was during his retirement that he decided to set himself the challenge of writing a novel. The Cypress Branches is the result.
William’s health started deteriorating shortly after finishing The Cypress Branches and he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2006. After a decade-long battle against the disease, William passed away peacefully in February 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88.