Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: David P O'Coinn


Pages: 452 Ratings: 5.0
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Before she can be drowned as a witch, Elizabeth Robinson is swept away by the tide and the devil wind of Boston, Lincolnshire. She issues a curse on those responsible and declares that it will only end ‘when the birdman falls from the sky and into the mire’. Then, and only then will the evil in her descendants that is ever present will be finally defeated ‘and love will again prosper’.

The story traces the fate of the Robinson and Williston families through their time during the English Civil War and their uniting together in Boston, Massachusetts, two hundred years later. There is action aboard the Lusitania and Southern Ireland followed by a return to England and then the battlefields of France in WWI. The climax of the story occurs back in the USA after two heroes, Stephen Robinson and Bobby Williston, return at the end of hostilities only to be involved in a trial followed by an aerial combat.

David P O’Coinn grew up at Balderton, Nottinghamshire then a sleepy village close to Newark and went to a local grammar school. After several jobs including working on British Rail he won a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music. After graduation he worked mainly as a teacher. He has lived in Lincolnshire for many years and this county has provided much of his inspiration. He is married with three children and enjoys writing, railway travel and cricket in his spare time.

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  • Chris Harby

    A musician who began writing a book from a hospital bed during treatment for cancer has had his debut novel published.

    Philip Spratley, 79, wrote Stretto: A Story of Two Bostons under the pen name of David P O’Coinn.

    It hit the shelves on March 31 after publication by Austin Macauley.

    “It is all very exciting,” he said.

    “I have got quite a bit of music in print, but writing a book was just a one-off. I didn’t expect it to get anywhere.

    “I’d written two stories before but didn’t think they were good enough to send off.

    “The first publisher said no, the second didn’t reply and then I thought I would try one more.

    “Around Christmas in 2020 a package arrived offering me a contract and the rest is history.”

    The journey began four years ago, shortly after Philip, from Deeping St James, began treatment for bladder cancer.
    “I worked on it for about five months then left it for about a month because I wasn’t sure about it.

    “But I decided I wanted to go on and spent another 11 months on it.”

    The historical novel tells the story of two families through their time during the English Civil War in Lincolnshire and their uniting together in Boston, Massachusetts, 200 years later.

    “The subject is something I have always been interested in, but sometimes you can’t define where inspiration comes from,” he said.

    “An idea can just start off without any logic at all.”

    The title Stretto refers to a musical instruction and is a nod to his own background.

    Starting out as a percussion player in orchestras, Philip became a music teacher and taught at schools in East Anglia and Lincolnshire, including Bourne Grammar School and Robert Manning School, what is now Bourne Academy.

    He remains a freelance musician and was also Director of Music at Bourne Abbey for 20 years and a lay clerk at Southwell Minster.

    “I don’t see the book as a Mozart symphony, I just wanted to do something that was entertaining.

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