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Canberra Today 14°/17° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

London takes a shine to Warren’s tale of slavery

Author Warren Page… “When I got back into writing I thought to myself this is my time, and I wanted to get something out of it.” Photo: Lily Pass

JAMES Page (aka Canberran Warren Page) is better known in London as the author of “A Slaver’s Tide” than he is locally as a writer from Waramanga. 

The cover of “A Slaver’s Tide”.

The idea for the book, his second, came to the former public servant 15 years ago, but work and family kept him away from writing it. 

Warren says he was compelled to finish writing “A Slaver’s Tide” after seeing the growth of movements such as Black Lives Matter.

“I just thought, well, here’s a story that is relevant in a way, even though it’s set in 1806,” says Warren.

“It’s the story of a slave boat captain, who’s put on trial for the murder of slaves. He throws them overboard during a voyage when everything goes wrong.

“At the time [the British] parliament was really pushing to abolish slavery, and they decided to make an example of the captain, a show trial.”

Warren says he struggled to find a publisher, but found some luck eventually through a family friend.

“She had a look and said it’s fantastic, but she said it won’t sell in Australia because it’s not an Australian story,” he says.

“To me it’s a universal story, but I thought London is where it’s set, and I sent it off to some publishers over there, and one of them came back.”

Warren, 53, is also known by pen-name James Page.

“When I was first starting to write, somebody asked me if I wanted to be like James Patterson, and I thought of James Page,” he says.

“I figured if you’re in a bookstore you want to have your work as close as you can to someone like James Patterson, because there are people who like his books there, and they might see your name beside it and wonder about it and pick it up.”

Warren says his writing routine is based around his three kids, aged 14, 12 and 11.

“They are relatively self-sufficient, but the general rule is during school holidays if I suddenly get an idea and I get ready to write, they’ll be calling out for me!” he says.

“When they are at school though, I’ll get a coffee, sit down and read the last few paragraphs I wrote. Some days nothing happens and I’m lucky to write a paragraph, but sometimes I’ll spend hours writing, and 1pm rolls around before I realise I haven’t eaten.”

Warren put his writing on hold after receiving a redundancy package from the public service in 2014, and then subsequently caring for and winding up his late father’s affairs. He is the son of Denis and Denise Page. Denis, an accountant, was a leading business figure in Canberra for decades. 

“My wife is working, and we’re fortunate in terms of our financial position, so we’re not getting crunched at the moment, but the average author makes about $20,000 in a year, so it’s nothing really,” he says.

“If I could get there and then just a little bit more, that would be great.

“When I got back into writing I thought to myself this is my time, and I wanted to get something out of it.

“I learned a huge amount, through a huge amount of research, and when I did my first draft that was part of the problem.

“You have to do plenty of research, but then you have to throw most of it out and just pick one or two little things that will make the story sequences real.”

Warren had previously self-published a book – “The Chancer’s Corps” –  about the 1808 rum rebellion in Sydney.

“Initially, I thought what could go wrong, it was like a classic Hollywood film,” he says.

“You’ve got soldiers behaving badly, larrikinism and all sorts of shenanigans, but there was just no real interest from publishers, so in the end I thought, well, I’ll self-publish.”

Warren says he loves writing, and hopes readers can take something away from his books.

“Hopefully, they are books people can get through relatively quickly, and they can learn a bit of history, too,” he says.

“What’s important when you’re writing is getting people around you who can give you feedback, and listen to them, take their advice on board, because it makes a big difference.

“Generally speaking, my mum reads the early drafts and I keep saying to her she has to be an unbiased reader, but she’s good in that she’ll actually go through and edit, and she does give proper advice, she keeps pushing me.

“I just think if you love it and enjoy it, why not go for it? If somebody, somewhere, reads it and enjoys it, that makes me happy.”

“A Slaver’s Tide”, published by Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. 

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Lily Pass

Lily Pass

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