My name is Malcolm James Croan, but I much prefer Callum (Gaelic for Malcolm.) I was born in Edinburgh Scotland on the 1st of November 1948. I mention this because, coincidentally it happened to be ‘All Saints Day,’ and by a stroke of good fortune for my mother, her birthday also.
My father Robert Croan known as Bob was a managing partner in the family business known as Robert Croan and Son’s. A fish and kipper curing enterprise of considerable size on a nationwide basis. Unfortunately the son’s did not refer to me, but to the previous generation, the business having been started by my grandfather, and his brothers. As it would turn out I would have to make my own way in life. But it has to be said that I did have a fairly privileged upbringing, which included a public school education. In the UK, public means private education. St Josephs College Dumfries it also happened to be a boarding school. This male bastion was administered, and controlled by the Marist brothers. A religious order that in time I would come to rebel against, and eventually at the tender age of twelve, I would abscond from.
The rest of my education was somewhat patchy, but I think it is safe to say that I probably would have been voted the least likely student to ever write anything worthwhile. My spelling was abominable and my English grammar probably no better than average. But I always had a good imagination, a talent which for some inexplicable reason was completely overlooked by the educational system of the day. I also had an insatiable desire to discover for myself what lay over the horizon.
Writing did not come naturally to me. It was a means to an end: at a time in my life when I thought I could make a quick buck. That was thirty years ago. My first novel was entitled ‘Retribution’ The story of a young man who after his fathers death discovers that his only sister was institutionalized as the result of her kidnap and abuse some ten years earlier. Mark sets out to find the culprits and inflict his own brand of justice.
‘Thicker Than Water’ would be my next foray into the literary world, and would eventually be published as ‘Right Hand Up To God.’ The gripping story of a young girls triumph over adversity, and at the same time, and half a world away her estranged half brother Sean would fall victim to the mindless violence that was Northern Ireland. While my heroine Lori triumphs over life’s hardship, her half-brother Sean by means of the I.R.A. proliferates the sectarian kayo that is Ulster. But the two siblings will be drawn together in an audacious venture to compromise the British government of Margaret Thatcher, and save the life of their younger brother Michael a roman catholic priest from a living hell; the Maze Prison Belfast.