Book Review

By Matthew ARAT

Writing a book from scratch can take a significant amount of time. Notable writers like Ian Fleming and Dan Brown could write thick novels in about three years but, for the novice author, it can be a challenge to even know where to start. Andy Wheildon, a retired British insurance agent, is that author.

“Studying Form” has been in the works for 20 years. Wheildon started writing his book during his university days, based on his love for Dick Francis novels of horse racing and criminal activities.

“I had Windows 3.1 with DisplayWrite from IBM and started bashing my keyboard,” said Wheildon. “The first chapters were verbal diarrhea and I got quite busy around that time.”

Wheildon couldn’t finish the book and it sat, hidden away, for 20 years. He married, had kids, and became a successful insurance agent. An offhand comment soon led friends to suggest that he return to writing and finish the novel he started so long ago.

But restarting his writing skills was a challenge.

“My wife read the first drafts, which she called ‘chauvinistic,’” Wheildon said with a laugh. “I had to take it to a professional editor to polish.”

When asked about his writing process, he relayed a problem that can affect writers.

“My thought process is quicker than my writing,” Wheildon said.

He admitted the two protagonists are somewhat based on his college days, although he added, “Some of the more gritty details are definitely not me.”

“Studying Form” covers a fictional tale set in the early 1990s tech industry where a university student and his lackadaisical friend hatch a get-rich-quick scheme to make a software program on betting odds for horse racing. Putting the odds in their favor leads them on a wild journey of extortion, a car chase, and gambling.

In Wheildon’s words, the novel is “unapologetically British.” Various inspirations were books by Ian Fleming and Dick Francis, of which he mentions a long period where “I never read another Dick Francis novel, just to make sure the ideas were my own.”

Thanks to his wife and friends, years of work have finally led to his first book being published.

Now, with his kids grown-up and his retirement underway, Wheildon is proud of the work he’s accomplished. His hobbies now include hosting a radio show for a local hospital … but could he write another novel?

“I don’t know, but I might give it a go,” Wheildon said.

“Studying Form” is available on Amazon UK and U.S.