Gregg Dunnett worked as Staff Writer and Photographer for the best-selling Boards magazine for nearly ten years. The best selling windsurfing magazine that is. He attracted wide-ranging praise for his thoughtful and engaging articles, and was sent around the world testing equipment and reporting on competitions and locations. Eventually Boards went bust, not entirely his fault, and he turned to writing novels instead. His first to be released is The Wave at Hanging Rock.
He lives on the UK’s south coast with his Spanish partner Maria and their two young children.
Gregg on why he writes
I’ve always wanted to do two things in life, to write, and to have adventures. When I was a kid I imagined grand affairs. Kayaking across Canada, cycling to Australia. Whole summers in the Arctic. Did it happen? In a word, no.
But some things happened. I spent some years abroad teaching English. I worked in sailing schools in Greece and Spain. I really lucked out with a job testing windsurfing boards for the magazine I grew up reading. I made a questionable decision (ok, a bad decision) to buy a windsurfing centre in Egypt. I’ve also done my fair share of less exciting jobs. Packing and stacking potatoes got me fitter than I’ve ever been in my life. A few years in local government taught me people really do go to meetings to discuss whether they need more meetings (and it takes all afternoon). I spent a pleasant few months in a giant book warehouse, where I could get lost among the miles of shelves slow-unpacking travel guides and daydreaming. Never has the minimum wage seemed a better deal.
I’ve done a bit of writing too, at least I learned how to write. Boards Magazine isn’t well known (it doesn’t even exist today except as a website) but it did have a reputation for being well written and I shoe-horned articles in my own gonzo journalism style on topics with only the most tenuous of links to windsurfing. If I can dig them out I'll add a few to this website for reasons of posterity.
But the real adventures never came. Nor did the real writing.
Then last year, my brother announced he was going to attempt to windsurf alone and unsupported around Great Britain. Apparently this was something he’d always wanted to do (it was news to me). But It was a proper adventure. It was dangerous, it was exciting. It caught the attention of people on facebook and in the media. He got on TV, in the papers. Some people thought he was reckless, some thought he was inspirational. Lots of people thought he’d fail. I thought he'd fail.
But he didn’t. He made it around. He even sailed solo from Wales to Ireland, the first to make the crossing without the aid of a safety boat. I was lucky enough to be involved in a superficial planning level, and take part in a few training sails, and the last leg of the trip. But he did ninety nine percent of it on his own. One step at a time, just getting on with it. That was quite inspiring.
In a way it inspired me to pull my finger out. I’d been writing novels - or trying to write novels - for a few years by then. But it was touch and go whether I would end up one of those ‘writers’ with a half-finished novel lost on a hard drive somewhere, rather than someone who might actually manage to finish the job.
I’ve now got two lovely, highly demanding children, so real adventures are hard right now. I still try to get away when I can for nights out in the wilds rough camping, surf trips sleeping in the van, windsurfing when the big storms come. I love adventures with the kids too.
I hope in time to get around to a few real adventures. I want to sail across an ocean. I want to bike across a continent. I definitely want to spend more time surfing empty waves.
But for me, for now at least, the real adventures take place in my mind. In real life I’m too chained-down with the mortgage to travel the world at the drop of a hat. But when I’m writing I’m totally free. When I write, that’s me having an adventure.
You can read Gregg's second novel The Desert Run for free by signing up his newsletter here.