A VERSATILE Marlow artist has swapped his easel for a fountain pen to release his first novel, based on the life of his father who served in Second World War.
Featured several times in the Bucks Free Press, Tony Boucher has exhibited his paintings in galleries throughout Bucks, including the intricate chess series inspired by his love for the game.
The talented 60-year-old, who works as a graphic artist by day, has now made the switch to novels, putting the finishing touches to his first full length work, 'The Unfortunate Basil Albright', earlier this year.
Based on events from his father’s life, including his time in the inhospitable RAF Shaibah base in Iraq during the Second World War, the novel has remained in Amazon’s top 100 biographical fiction chart since its release in February.
And the self-confessed obsessive artist has taken nearly three years to craft this detailed, finely woven piece of semi-biographical fiction which both moves and disturbs.
"I always really wanted to write a book, and knew that I had a novel in me," he said.
"But I don’t really see much of change between the two forms - you either have a blank piece of paper or a white canvas, then you put words or pictures on it and use them to tell a story. There’s a story in every piece of good art.
"Painting has always been in forefront for me and I’d never attempted the book, but it was always in the back of my mind. But I can’t write and paint at the same time, I’m very obsessive about what I do - sometimes my paintings take months.
"With the writing I get obsessive too so can’t juggle the two at once, it might end up in a divorce! My wife is my rock, she has encouraged me and edited my work and I owe a lot to her."
The Unfortunate Basil Albright is what Tony calls "a third truth, third fiction and a third exaggeration", mixing real scenarios from his father’s life with fabricated events and Tony’s own interpretation of events.
Beginning with his father’s earliest memory of attending his sister’s funeral, it takes in the Second World War, a stint in a drug-fuelled hippy commune and domestic fatherhood before culminating with the circumstances surrounding his death.
Merged with events from Tony’s own experiences, the complex plot presents singular episodes from Basil’s life , with each piece telling its own story but fitting together with the plot to form a complete image of the ‘unfortunate’ title character.
And though the tragic events leading up to his death may be fabricated, Tony said he felt an obligation to his father to chart the biographical elements in his book after he passed away.
Tony said: "It’s not like a crime novel, it’s a life story, from four-years-old until death, so it’s like a jigsaw puzzle; pieces that seem randomly placed around the board join together when more pieces are added.
"During the war he was posted to an extreme airfield in Persia and I thought I would get a whole biography out of it. But often he was reluctant to tell me things about it and I started adding bits of my life into it and imagination of his experiences.
"The book feels more personal to you that way. I think with biography, you have to include a bit of you in there, unless you’re writing about something or someone concrete in history.
"Dad passed away three years ago so I felt like I wanted to give him something back, and the book is dedicated to him. I thought I owed him something, and after someone’s gone you always wonder why you didn’t ask more questions about their life."
RRP is £7.99 and is available online.