Inspiration is only the beginning of great work

  • 2009-10-29
  • Interview by Ella Karapetyan

Michael Wynne-Parker is a man of many accomplishments. He is currently chairman of Guild Travel and Tourism of the UK. He is the former governor of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth and the former chairman of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (East Region).

In 1982 he co-founded, with Lord Rix, the Mencap City Foundation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord How. Michael was co-founder, with Jim Davidson, of the British Forces Foundation and was Chairman of the Foundation's inaugural ball at Grosvenor House in 1999, in London.
In 1987, Michael was appointed Chairman of the ESU Appeal, launched by HRH Prince Philip, in Westminster County Hall. In 1989, he chaired the ESU of Sri Lanka Appeal to establish a permanent HQ, school and the Wynne-Parker Library in Colombo. In 2005 he was appointed a Trustee of the Heart for Russia Charity, which rescues and rehabilitates street children in Russia. In 2006, he became Chairman of 'A Heart for Russia Appeal.' He has received many other awards and recognitions, too many to list in this short space.

The presentation night of  Wynne-Parker's latest book, "We Shall Fly," which was launched at the Royal Air Force Club in London on Sept. 17, will take place on Oct. 27 in Tallinn. "This new book tells the story of the remarkable life of Tony Wadlow, a pioneer of British commercial aviation, who was born in relative poverty and, overcoming all obstacles, achieved great things. Wadlow was a man who did not understand the word "no:" for him everything was possible, and he made things happen," says the author.

Michael sat down with The Baltic Times to talk about his latest achievements and give some useful tips to young and aspiring writers.

What kind of useful tips or advice would you give to young writers?
First, read classic literature and study the atmosphere, content, literary style and leading characters. This should include Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Geothe and Proust. Then turn to a variety of contemporary writers, according to taste, and then begin to write observations of daily life in a personal diary which will in the future provide a personal resource book.

Where do you get most of your ideas from?
All my ideas come from a combination of experience and inspiration. I have so far been very fortunate to have lived life to the fullest, with a rich and varied experience, coupled with a contemplative nature which allows me to gain daily inspiration.

 What is the most important thing about writing a book?
Discipline. Remember Churchill's paraphrase "Blood, sweat and tears." No great work (and I do not count mine as great!) comes just by inspiration. It comes by ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. 

How many books have you written so far? And how do you choose the topic to write about?
Five that have been published. My book 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' (now in its third edition) was based on my personal experience of life in Sri Lanka - probably my best book so far! But two of my books are biographies, commissioned by publishers with offers I could not refuse! They were, however, a huge challenge as I had to immerse myself in the lives of two individuals, with all their own experiences and personalities and interest, of which I previously knew nothing!

In what languages would your latest book be translated in?
So far all my books are only in English. However, several of my articles are also in Russian.
Why have you decided to take this topic for your latest book? What inspired you?
I was asked to write my latest book, 'We Shall Fly,' as I had got to know the hero 'Tony Wadlow' very well over the past ten years and had come to admire him and appreciate his achievements.

What is the main idea you want to tell your readers?
I wanted to tell the readers about the man who managed to achieve great things despite his humble background. I wanted the reader to understand that human potential is unlimited and that once unlocked it can achieve all that the mind can conceive.

How long did it take you to finish the book 'We shall fly?' And why have you decided on that name?
It took me nine months to research the book and four months to write it. Having finished it, I struggled to think of a title. It came from the combination of a poem by Mike Springate and a line from Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov."

How do you think people will react after reading the book?
So far the reactions have been positive. But it is early days.

Are you planning to write any other books? And which topics will you choose?
Unless I am given the challenge of another biography I will begin the first of several autobiographical works, of which the first is already in the research stage. I have been fortunate since childhood in meeting some of the world's most interesting characters. However, memories fade and I am reliant on youthful diaries, letters and the memories of others.

 How do you find Estonia, having visited so many other countries?
Estonia is extremely interesting to me as it is the cross-roads between East and West. It has absorbed a remarkable heritage from the Danes, Swedes, Baltic Germans and as part of the great Russian Empire. Thus, it presents a synthesis of European culture. Not of the EU-but of an older Europe.
How long have you been living in Estonia? And what brought you here? How long are you planning to stay in Estonia?
I have been visiting Estonia for about twelve years; I have partly resided here for eight years. I say that because I live only part of the year in Estonia. The rest of the time is spent in London and the Middle East. I expect in the future to continue this pattern, perhaps, though, spending more time in Jordan and Oman in the winter!  

Which of your books is your favorite?
It is difficult to say which I prefer. I still have to write my best work!

What is your favorite genre?
I prefer reading biography and history.

Who are your target readers?
All who wish to broaden their minds!

Who can you point out, from the well-known English or Estonian or maybe Russian poets, that you call your friends?
George Kirilov is a remarkable Estonian poet of the Russian tradition. I have recently been honored to become president of the George Kirilov Society.

What is your favorite theme or element in writing?
Though I aim to make my writing interesting to the general reader, my deepest theme is philosophy.

Who, or what, gave you inspiration to start writing?
I have always enjoyed reading and was brought up with British children's classics "The Window in the Willows," "Winnie-the-Pooh," "Alice in Wonderland" and the Bible. All these influenced me to appreciate literature. From school days onwards I dreamed of being a writer.

What do you like most about Estonia? What is your favorite place?
Compared with London, I enjoy the peace and quite of Estonia, which is why I come here to think, research, plan and write. My favorite place is St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Why? As a Russian Orthodox Christian it is my spiritual home. I believe that life must consist of balance between the spiritual, mental, and physical. If one element is missing, disease sets in. Important food for thought in the modern world!