Tom Kane arrived at the doors to a career as a writer in a roundabout, twisting, turning, and spiralling path that started at the age of eight, when he wrote the science fiction classic, Planet A for Acid and culminated with his first novel, Operation Werwolf, being published on a rainy Thursday morning in November 2013. Tom was about to turn fifty-nine and turn over a new page in his career story.
The fifty years between Tom’s first writing attempts and his first novel being published were years that held many writing spurts interspersed with a career that spanned and eclectic mix of wine tasting, stock control, software development and a designer for embroidered and printed garments. But he never gave up on wanting to be a writer and told friends and family, multiple times, “there’s a book inside me waiting to come out.” It transpired the book inside Tom was waiting for the right medium. And that medium was via electronics.
Tom’s main career and therefore writing career came about in an odd way. He gave up working for others and took up freelance work, i.e., taking any manual warehouse job going that would pay a decent wage and allow him time to write. He bought a portable typewriter, a year’s supply of Tippex correction fluid, enough A4 paper to cover the Sistine chapel and typewriter ribbon that would stretch from Earth to the Moon and back. There was only one problem, Tom hated writing using a portable typewriter. For every hour of writing, he was spending two hours correcting mistakes, placing sheets of paper in the typewriter, only to be crumpled up and thrown away, followed by unjamming the print heads as he typed. It was far from ideal.
It was in the early 1980s and one day, during his time walking to work at his current well-paid job in a warehouse, Tom noticed a new display in a shop selling a variety of electrical products from lamps to hair dryers. Tom stopped and looked at the new display. It was a small black device about the size of an A4 sheet of paper and as thick as a notebook. What was odd about it was the set of rubber keys inset into the black device. It was an odd rubbery QWERTY keyboard that seemed out of place because there was no apparent means of printing onto paper. Tom went into the shop and enquired as to what the device was.
It was, of course, a computer, the famous Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k. It was there and then that the future flashed into focus in Tom’s mind’s eye. Suddenly, he had a cunning plan. He would buy one of these new-fangled computers and he would write his stories on this device. At a stroke he would be saving on paper, tippex, typewriter ribbon and time. And so Tom was suddenly advancing into the realms of the new computer age.
But as with all brilliant ideas, there was a slight flaw to Tom’s cunning plan. He discovered there was in fact two flaws to his plan when he got his new computer out of the box and read the manual which was thicker than the computer. Currently there was no way of printing directly from the computer and no software available that would allow Tom to write on the device. There were plenty of games to play on it, but nothing that would actively help a budding author. But Tom did find a section in the manual under the heading BASIC Programming. A decision was made. Tom didn’t doubt this was the way forward for any author. Someone somewhere would invent a printer that would allow him to print his stories. But there was no software that allowed the user to write on the Spectrum, so he would learn how to program the Spectrum and write his own software.
To the lay person, Tom’s idea would seem a little bit mad. Indeed, it was crazy because little did he know, but he was convincing himself he could invent the word processor. Mad and crazy it was, but six months later Tom had written software that was indeed a rudimentary word processor. It worked and even better he could save his writing onto tape, go back to it later, load it back into the computer memory and work on it some more. Tom may not have been the inventor of the word processor but what he learned from his experience opened a whole new world and suddenly, the computer bug had bitten him.
In 1983, Microsoft released its now famous word-processing software, Word.
Tom Kane became a computer programmer and software developer. His first project was called MicroChef and it was taken up by software house Logic 3. MicroChef allowed the user to enter ingredients into a search engine and it retrieved recipes based on the search criteria. Sound familiar? Yep, Tom was Googling before the WorldWideWeb, or Google were invented. Unfortunately, Logic 3 went bankrupt a week before the launch of MicroChef. All the work, the photoshoot, the box design for the software, the advertising and product placement work was for naught. MicroChef was dead on arrival.
Despite this major setback, Tom became a contracting programmer for the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley Cars, Volkswagen and many more household names and eventually developed his own software to prove, or disprove, there was a threat from the so-called Y2K Bug. Tom went on to sell his software worldwide, even to the US Military and various Blue-Chip companies.
Those computer programming days were heady days, intense days and days where Tom’s aspirations as a writer slipped away into the wasteland of forgotten dreams and set-aside ambitions. It would be another ten years before Tom’s writing ambitions surfaced again.
The year 2000 ushered in a new period. Tom’s software had proven to all purchasers that their own software was Year 2000 compliant, or not. As it turned out, there was no real Y2K problem and all the software in the world, mostly, carried on working.
In 2003, Tom went back to writing. Using his PC and Microsoft Word, he started drafting a novel based on his father’s wartime experiences.
The 2000s also saw Tom meet his wife and, at the ripe old age of 49, he got married, despite always predicting he would never marry until he was fifty years old… almost made it!
And then, in November 2007, a little heard of company called Amazon launched and little understood electronic device called a kindle. The kindle was an eReader. Most people had no idea what an eReader was or could do. Amazon opened a page on its website and invited America to view over 80,000 books available to read on the Amazon kindle eReader. By in large, the world ignored the significance of the kindle.
The world continued to turn.
On the 30th of May 2008, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, announced that Kindle eBooks account for more than 6% of all books sold on Amazon.
In August 2008, Tom Kane, his wife and their two dogs, English Springer Spaniels Harvey and Holly, left England and moved to Cyprus.
The world continued to turn.
February-March 2009 saw the launch of the Kindle 2 and Whispersync, which allows a user to sync content between devices registered by the same Amazon user. The new kindle and Whispersync is quickly followed by the Kindle app for iPhone. The app is free to download and supports the newly launched Whispersync technology.
This is the point. One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators – Stephen Fry
The world looked up, then went back to reading its paperbacks.
In October 2009 Amazon announced the international launch of Kindle 2 with the device shipping to over 100 countries and destinations around the world. Users can now choose from 200k English-language books.
The world looked up, took notice, and began buying kindle eReaders.
Tom had finished his first novel by 2011 and began querying literary agents and publishers via email. Not an easy task as most agents and publishers wanted to read submitted books in the time-honoured medium of paper. Sending a novel via the Cyprus postal system proved at once costly and at the same time impossible, as most manuscripts failed to arrive.
By 2012, Tom had become frustrated with the literary world. Querying had always been fraught with angst and bitter disappointment. But now even that avenue was lost to him due to the problems with snail mail from Cyprus to England. It was at this time than Tom overheard a conversation at a market in Cyprus. A local radio DJ he knew had mentioned to a friend at the next table to Tom that he was publishing his life story on kindle. Tom asked the obvious question, “What’s a kindle,” and the answer opened Tom’s eyes.
Within a few months Tom had taken possession of a kindle eReader (no mean feat because Amazon refused to sell, let alone ship, kindles to Cyprus) and had managed to work out how to format his book for kindle. He opened a kdp (Kindle Direct Publishing) account and had published his first novel, Operation Werwolf, in November 2013. Tom Kane was an Independent Author, before he even knew what an indie author was.
And now, in 2022, Tom has published both novels and non-fiction books. The publishing world of the indie author has flourished and Tom’s latest novels, The Brittle Saga Trilogy, are doing well worldwide.
It’s been a long, long journey for that eight-year-old little boy, who knew he had a book inside him, but had no idea how to get it out for the world to read. The retired, older version, of that little boy has finally managed to fulfil a dream that has lasted a lifetime. The dedication and aspiration are now bearing fruit. Here’s to the many more novels I have inside me, that now have a way to be read by others.
Tom Kane currently resides in the Republic of Cyprus with his wife.
For more information on Tom Kane’s books, click on the blue button > My Books
Tom Kane (c) 2022