High drama with roots in real life

Rebecca Muncaster meets Cumbrian author Philip Caine on a visit to Egremont Library and discovers his real life is almost as dramatic as his fictional one. EGREMONT Library played host […]

Rebecca Muncaster meets Cumbrian author Philip Caine on a visit to Egremont Library and discovers his real life is almost as dramatic as his fictional one.

EGREMONT Library played host to Cumbrian author, Philip Caine, as he promoted his new novel, Picnic in Iraq.
Philip, from Barrow, is currently self-marketing his book by doing a tour of the North West libraries, and had previously given 12 other promotional talks in different Cumbrian libraries.
A self-assured man with a witty charisma, Philip began his talk by encapsulating his colourful 50 year career into a 40 minute segment.

His career started with an apprenticeship at the Victoria Park Hotel in Barrow to become a chef. He stayed in the hospitality and catering sector for ten years, and eventually changed career paths and landed a one year contract on oil rigs in the North Sea. This one year contract was the beginning of a 15-year career working on oil rigs in facilities management. His time in oil rigs gave him the opportunity to travel to Africa, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Following the Iraq War in 2003, Philip was offered a six-month contract in Baghdad to provide ‘life-support services’ to US troops. His job was to build 9 accommodation bases for 30,000 troops. In the end, he stayed for seven years.
In 2010 he moved to Dubai with his wife, and set up head offices which provided facilitates and project management to oil clients in Iraq and Kurdistan.

These projects were eventually shut down due to the rising threat from the terrorist group, ISIS. Philip and his wife moved back to Barrow, and he semi-retired in the summer of 2014.

In all, his career sounded as exhilarating as his fictitious novel; from extensive travelling in three different continents in perilous and isolated locations, crippling lows and debt, dealings with the Russian mafia, and daring business opportunities.

In January 2015 Philip joined the Ulverston Writers Group. He commented that the group helped ‘turn the story into a novel instead of a report’ by aiding him how to master the craft of fiction writing. The book took four months to draft and a further month to complete. He is now working on the sequel, To Catch a Fox.

Picnic in Iraq is not a book about the war, but rather a book about friendship. Philip described it as a ‘fictitious treasure hunt’ but has included events which were inspired from his own life. By taking inspiration from his own experiences, Philip has translated his geographical expertise into his story and created realistic characters which are based on various people he met.

He added that the story is ‘not just a guy’s book’ and includes other elements in an aside from action, such as romance and companionship, and has interesting twists and turns.

After detailing the inspiration for his book, Philip read various extracts which were well-received by his listeners.
The talk concluded with Philip accepting questions and comments from his audience. The majority of the audience were members of Egremont’s Reading Group and had already read his book, which made for dynamic conversation and thoughtful critique.

Audience member Lorna Moseley, who is a member of Egremont’s Reading Group, commented that it is a ‘fun book. Its brilliance is in its simplicity.’ She further noted that events like these ‘were a great opportunity to meet creative people’.

* Egremont Library holds two or three events like this annually. The next scheduled event is in February next year with author Ruth Sutton, who will be promoting her new book. For further information keep track of the Facebook page: ‘Whitehaven Library’ or phone 01946 820464 for more details.