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Hotseat - Gary Brown

818_hotseatOfficially, Gary Brown is the editor of All At Sea magazine. However, he's also an author, journalist and broadcaster in his own right. He's passionate about art, literature and poetry and his life is influenced by his love of the sea. He considers himself a loner who's still evolving his personal philosophy in life. He parties hard with the best of folks (it got him into trouble in his youth); he also likes wine, lots of it. Gary now lives in St. Maarten and like many has experienced the influence of hurricanes – first Luis in 1995, and then Gonzolo last week left their mark on his life. He shares his books and thoughts on life at garyebrown.net

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born in Yorkshire in an industrial town of Keighley, in the north of England. Keighley was built on textiles and engineering and back then had all the industrial effects that went with it. The town sits in the bottom of the beautiful Aire Valley surrounded by green hills. I was part of a gang of kids, who would walk into the hills and look down on the town and count the number of mill chimneys belching out smoke. On bad days, when the town was cloaked in smog, all we could see were the very tops of the highest chimneys. It was great being a kid, though; lots to explore; we ran wild. Today the mills are gone; and clean air rules.

Where did you go to school?

I don't talk much about school, I hated it. We lived in fear of the cane and strap. I scraped through a few exams and turned my back on the whole sorry lot the minute I could.

What did you do after high school?

Ran as far and as fast as my legs would carry me, until I acquired a motor bike, and then I rode.

How did you get into All At Sea?

All At Sea has been part of my life for many years, first as a writer and now as editorial director. When the original owners sold the company, I took over one of their local publications and ran it for a couple of years.

What brought you to St. Maarten?

Like many folks, my wife and I sailed in on our way south in 1993. In 1994, we dropped anchor in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Where do you consider home?

I'm still looking.

What do you find interesting about living and working in St Maarten?

The island is beautiful and I enjoy the natural beauty. The resilience and friendliness of the majority of St. Maarteners make it an often interesting place to live. I don't like wearing a lot of clothes, and the climate's perfect for that. Dealing with government and their spiralling bureaucracy is a challenge. Anyone who can deal with that, set up a business and prosper has my respect.

How did you get into boats?

My great grandfather was at sea during the last great days of sail and so I have a dash of salt in my veins. In the mid-1970s, I built boats in Guernsey, in the British Channel Islands, and then became a commercial fisherman working my own boat. Amongst all that, I learned how to sail and race, as well as build boats.

What does your typical day look like?

Nowadays, it sees me scrunched over a computer hammering out stories for magazines and working to finish the second draft of my second novel. All At Sea takes a huge amount of time, the hours are long and most of my energy goes into it.

What do you like about working at All At Sea?

The positive feedback we get from the readers. And it's cool to edit an international sailing/lifestyle magazine. While I've been editor, we have watched the magazine grow, and that gives me a warm feeling.

What do you love most about your job?

I would say the freedom. All I need is a laptop computer and I can take my office anywhere. I also love working with my writers; they are such interesting people.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Living off the royalties from my books, writing more and seeing one of my stories adapted for the big screen.

What unique skills or talents do you have?

I listen when people talk to me; it's a skill more folks should develop.

What makes you feel really happy?

My wife, my cats, my friends, boats, solitude, the sea, and wine – don't forget the wine.

What do you do to relax?

Read and listen to music. I love sea stories but read all sorts of different genres. Puckoon by Spike Milligan is one of my favourite books; the guy was a nut/genius. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is high on my list: love, passion, betrayal, ghosts; all played out on the Yorkshire moors where I grew up. If I want hard-man fiction, then I go to Lee Childs. For superb crime with dollops of philosophy, then James Lee Burk is my man.

What music do you enjoy? Recommendations?

Rock & blues, classical, choral, folk and bagpipes; I'd never recommend my choice of music to anyone.

What is your biggest fear?

The fear of fear itself.

What's the most fun adventure you've had?

Making love to my wife on the foredeck in mid ocean while sailing under a million stars.

Do you have any pet peeves?

People who play loud music and inflict it on others.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I'd invite Admiral Lord Nelson; author Spike Milligan; and the Viking Explorer/King Erik the Red. I'd cook fish and chips and treacle tart and serve up grog, lots of grog. I'd share my books, poetry and blog at garyebrown.net