Category Archives: author

Happy Birthday William…87 today

William E. Thomas, the author of Pegasus Falling and The Cypress Branches trilogy, was born on 2nd September 1925. Today was his 87th birthday.

To celebrate, the Thomas family gathered to wish him well. 87 is a lot of candles even for someone of a much younger age to blow out, so William made do with just one on his cake.

As many of you will know, William is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. He now resides in a care home in Milton Keynes in the UK. He is visited daily by his family and many friends who take every opportunity possible to spoil and make a fuss of him.

William received an early birthday present yesterday when we received the news that Pegasus Falling has been named as a finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012 contest. It is just one of five books in the running in the Literary Fiction category. This really is exciting news and the family are very proud of William’s achievement. It certainly put everyone in the mood for a party!

I’m sure all of his new friends in the indie publishing world would like to join the rest of his family in wishing William many happy returns.

I’ll leave you with a few more snaps from the family gathering earlier on today.

Happy reading,

1776 and all that

This date always reminds me of a story Gramps told me once of his travels in the US of A.

William spent time as a merchant seaman and an engineer, and both careers saw him travelling around the world and visiting many far flung places. The US became a favourite stop, and one year he found himself there just as the July 4th holiday was approaching.

I can’t remember exactly where he was – but Chicago always springs to mind, because he was riding the subway alone, enjoying a moment to himself. As he tells it, a woman sat down opposite him and, because the car was virtually empty, decided to strike up a conversation.

“So,” the woman asks. “What are your plans for the fourth of July?”

“Oh,” replies William, “I don’t have any plans.”

“Really?” replies the woman, surprised. “Why not?”

“I’m British. We don’t celebrate the fourth of July.”

“What?!” the woman protests, indignantly. “You guys don’t celebrate the fourth of July?! Why not?”

“Well…we lost.”

It seems that in celebrating the birth of her nation, the woman had forgotten exactly how that nation had been born, of the difficult circumstances under which the declaration of independence had been signed, and the bloody battles which had ensued to ensure the United States could shake off the “tyranny” of British rule.

I’m no expert on the American Revolution, but I do know that it was not the best of times for the British. Their attitude was almost entirely that of keeping hold of what they saw as legitimately theirs at any cost. And in their acts, they became pariahs, not only to the Americans, but also to other European nations, who soon took the opportunity to declare war themselves.

The history of the American revolution is fascinating, and a subject I’d love to delve in to more. Perhaps I will one day. After all, it’s an event which affected our history almost as much as it did the American colonists.

I’d like to wish all of my American friends, and our American readers, a very happy fourth of July. I’ll raise a toast to your independence. But I hope that you guys can understand why we Brits don’t take the day quite so much to heart as you do. After all, we were the losing side on that particular occasion, and instead of fireworks and celebrations, a moment of quiet reflection, much like the one Gramps was having that day, is more in order this side of the pond.

Alzheimer’s and the author: The long goodbye

As many of you will know, William has Alzheimer’s. He began showing signs of dementia shortly after finishing writing the Cypress Branches 15 years ago. Since then, his health has deteriorated steadily and he is now cared for in a home in Milton Keynes in the UK.

It has been a struggle for the family to see a man so vibrant and intelligent in life slowly slip away from us.

Browsing through some old photos a few days ago, I found three photos of William with his wife Sheila, each taken 3 years apart covering the last six years. It is both remarkable and heartbreaking to see the difference in each photo.

The first was taken in April 2006 on a holiday in Somerset.

Author and Alzheimer's sufferer William & wife Sheila on holiday 2006

The next was taken three years later, at the launch of the hardback book in July 2009.

Author and Alzheimer's sufferer William & wife Sheila at book launch 2009

And most recently, this one, taken in March 2012, at the launch of Pegasus Falling.

Author and Alzheimer's sufferer William & wife Sheila in 2012

Alzheimer’s is called “the long goodbye” for a reason. I was asked recently during a radio interview whether the family had said goodbye and the question floored me for a second. Although William’s personality and vitality has diminished rapidly in the last six years, there are still glimmers of him that come through. On most occasions, he won’t talk and rarely recognises members of his own family. We’re all prepared for the inevitable. He’s not going to get any better. And we’ve all been saying goodbye for a while now, but it’s so hard to do.

When, all of a sudden, he’ll fix you with a knowing stare and say, “hello mate”, instead of saying goodbye, you want to reach into that mind of his and say hello back, start a conversation, ask him what he’s been up to and share a joke or two. It would be wonderful to be able to claw back the man who wrote such incredible books, and to ask him the many questions I have about them.

Instead, the moment passes all too quickly and the understanding is gone again.