"Having now had sixty five books published since 1990, one might think that I came to reading very early in my life, but sadly I didn't. I came from a large family who couldn't afford to buy enough bread to feed seven children, let alone books and with the nearest library being three miles away, I was in my eleventh year of life before I discovered the wonder of reading. I never considered looking at books at school as reading; that was learning!
At the age of eleven, after a serious accident, I found myself confined to a hospital bed for around eight months, having incurred multiple injuries in a traffic accident. I was told that I wouldn't walk again because of a damaged spine. It was during this time that I truly discovered books in their many forms. There were books to educate, books to entertain and books to fill one's hours in ways I'd not previously imagined. It was like a new world had opened up to me and I knew from that moment on, when I held a book in my hand, I held no less than an instrument of knowledge, a stimulation of thought, a channel of escapism; I knew I held a dream!
Around my twelfth birthday, when other boys of my age were out playing with their friends in the fresh air of open fields, I was confined to a hospital bed. About this time, I had started reading books which taught me some facts and some theories about the mind and body, in the hope of learning some answers which might help my immobile condition. When western medicine offered me no hope of walking again, I turned to the east and started reading books about meditation, relaxation, pain relief and the power of the imagination. By the age of twelve I was an ardent disciple of eastern philosophy and have remained one ever since.
By the age of fifteen, I was unsteadily back on my feet and beginning to live a more normal life once more. I was to learn however, that my life would never be quite the same ever again. I found myself estranged from my age group and spent a large part of the next five years learning to walk without a pronounced limp; having been left with my left leg three inches shorter than my right leg after fifty three leg operations over the years.
I would be in my twenties before I started reading for sheer pleasure and before long I'd become an avid reader who rarely went anywhere without a book to hand. Having missed out on a large part of my schooling between the ages of eleven and fifteen, I developed an educational hang-up and to compensate, I began to work my way though the reading of every classical novel I could lay my hands on. At the height of my reading, I would often read a book from cover to cover during the course of one day, every day of the week. Beware of the person who has read one book, for they have started a journey whose end will never be reached!
First married at the age of twenty six, one year later I returned to night school for three years to fill in my educational gaps and to take the examinations I had missed out on during my teenage years. I then had to decide whether to go to university to become either a History teacher or to Polytechnic College to train as a Probation Officer. I decided that Probation would be my vocation and reading history in my leisure hours would become my pleasure.
During my first marriage, all my spare hours and money would be spent reading, browsing in book shops and stocking up a large home library. Over thirteen years as a book worm, I amassed almost seven thousand books. I was one of the few people in the suburban street of the 70s who refused to have a television in their house for over seven years, until after the children were born.
A divorce in my fortieth year led to a severe shortage of cash and I sold all of my library off for a fraction of the cost and kept one hundred of my favourite books.
At the time, I cried bitterly to sell off my library, but learning that one doesn't need to possess a book in order to profit from the wisdom contained within it soon helped to ground me to reality once more and regain my senses. I quickly learned that it is far better to have many people read the same book than for it to belong to one person and remain on a shelf looking nice for the rest of its dusty life. Today, I am perfectly happy to give away my books as I read them and often they are donated to the local charity shop, although I still retain a small book cabinet of the classics, along with a copy of my own published books.
I was forty eight years old before I wrote my first children's story that was published in book form. Over the next dozen years, I used my knowledge of those areas which can devastate a child's life in the stories I wrote for children. I chose themes that highlighted and dealt with those situations and emotions that children find hardest to cope with; situations like bereavement, separation, bullying, loss, jealousy, anger etc. It is only in the latter four years when I reached the age of 69 that I have started writing again. I have added a dozen romantic stories and a few 'strictly for adult' novels adults to my publication output since my wife Sheila persuaded me to pick up my pen again four years ago.
I could not imagine ever having lived a life without knowing that my lovely Sheila or a book was close by. Books represent many things to me, but essentially remain my comfort rags. I have heard of frequent times in the past when for either reasons of politics or religion, books were publicly burnt. In my view there is only one crime worse than burning a book and that's not reading it! Happy reading." William Forde: November 26th, 2015.