Doctor publishes his first novel aged 80

Retired doctor Mike Smith, alias David McMichael
Retired doctor Mike Smith, alias David McMichael

A new writer named David McMichael has had his first novel published...at the age of 80.

And although the name won’t mean anything yet to people in the Ribble Valley, his real name will. It’s Dr Mike Smith, who was a GP in the town for more than 30 years.

He has used the pen name to write “Shadows in a Photograph”, a story set at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Dr Smith, who lives in retirement in the Ribble Valley, based his story partly on his own experiences as a doctor, and partly as a child growing up in Blitz-hit North London.

“I was four years old when the war started and 10 when it finished,” he says. “We lived near the Enfield munitions factory. One night a parachute mine landed a couple of streets away and destroyed a row of houses.”

Dr Smith’s story revolves around a young man who is posted as Medical Officer to an RAF Bomber Station.

There, he learns to cope with the turmoil all around him, coming to understand his past, and learning to deal with the present and the future.

He said: “The principal character is a doctor for two reasons. It meant that events could be seen through the eyes of a slightly less personally involved ‘non-combatant’, therefore relatively objective, and it allowed me the comfort of writing about what I know.”

Dr Smith had a relative by marriage in Bomber Command, half of whose aircrew were killed during the war, and believes their role in the war was not sufficiently recognised.

He has always been an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, and believes historical fiction can help people understand the past.

He said: “There are lessons of history that are forgotten by some people, and they make the same mistakes all over again.”

l “Shadows in a Photograph”, published by Austin Macauley (www.austinmacauley.com) is released on Monday.