At a young age, Gary had no interest in reading. His first love was football, but his mother strongly encouraged him to read, and he discovered that he really liked mystery and adventure stories, the Famous Five and Batman being his favourites.
His imagination was piqued, but Gary had trouble keeping it in check, getting into trouble for telling too many stories, finally leading to a poor school report that said he was garrulous. Subconsciously, he may have decided that it was safer to like Mathematics than English, and throughout the rest of his scholastic career, Gary flourished in Mathematics, eventually studying Pure Mathematics, Electronics and Computer Science at the University of West Indies until he was told he could only do two majors, not three. Reluctantly, he dropped his beloved Maths, and dived into the world of computers, a relatively new phenomenon back in the early 1980's.
Ironically, misfortune opened the door to the most influential change in his life. While playing a football match for Chancellor Hall on campus, Gary broke his leg. It was the week before university started, and he was a freshman. How would he ever live down the ignominy of walking around campus with crutches? During the first week, struggling to get into a lecture hall, a beautiful young woman took pity on him and helped him with his books. Six years later, he asked that beautiful young woman to marry him, and through a stream of tears, she said yes.
Over the last twenty-seven years, Gary has built a successful career in Information Technology (IT), starting with repairing cash registers, mini-systems and data terminals in supermarkets, banks and hotels across Jamaica, before starting his own business. By now the personal computing (PC) revolution was in full flight, so Gary's company expanded its operations from hardware repairs into PC and peripheral sales, and became the only authorized reseller and repair centre for OKI printers in Jamaica.
After thirteen years of working on the hardware side of IT, Gary changed careers and joined Tivoli Software in the UK, a software company headquartered in Austin, Texas. Two years later, Gary was being figuratively parachuted into critical situations around the world, resolving tough problems for Tivoli's clients. Gary has enjoyed a fourteen-year career with IBM Tivoli Software, and is now one of their leading Cloud Architects.
Throughout all this time, Gary’s love for stories was kept alive by his avid appetite for reading, but his story telling talents lay dormant until five years ago when he took a writing course in fictional writing. He loved it, and was encouraged to explore his talent. This exploration led to his first novel, The Fixer. Gary and his beloved wife, Judith, have two teenage daughters, and live happily in Buckinghamshire.
There are probably two events that planted the seed of the The Fixer in my mind. The first, in chronological order if not in importance, is a story.
A few years ago, a young woman returned to her community in Jamaica, after being away for over ten years. It was a joyous occasion for her mother and grandmother, as well as the rest of her lane in their ghetto community of Kingston. She had left as a teenage girl, and returned a woman, arriving proudly donned in an elegant business suit, accompanied by a barrel full of wares for not just her family, but for everyone on the lane, no less. Her mother shed tears of joy for her oldest of seven children, who had left home without notice, and had similarly returned. It was a miracle!
She was to be here for only a time. She had to return to New York to her business, but she wanted to come home and make sure her family knew that she was OK. The night before she was scheduled to leave, gunmen kicked down the door of her mother's three room wooden house, and shot her six times.
'Outrage!' shouted the media.
The general public was asking, '… is this another example of depravity in Jamaican society?'
But the whispers on the street suggested that there was something more to the story. The young girl that left for Miami turned out to be a drug mule, carrying drugs for the local Don, and after collecting the proceeds from the sale, disappeared. She surreptitiously made her way to New York and wisely invested the stolen money, and over the years she had built a successful business. After being away for over ten years, she thought it was now safe to return home, where she yearned to share her success with her mother and siblings. But the Don patiently waited for her return, and summarily dealt with her betrayal.
Both of my daughters were born in Jamaica, but we left when they were very young. We visit Jamaica fairly frequently, so they are familiar with the island, but to them it is just a holiday destination with which their parents have some emotional ties. My interest in telling stories related to Jamaica was piqued by how much they enjoyed childhood stories from my wife and I, and that even with their exposure to Jamaica, they still find our parochial dialect and attitudes very entertaining. My writing tutors were similarly enchanted, giving me the confidence to write The Fixer.