Buckingham engineer's book a mindbender

Intriguing story of 'what if' was based on a dream

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:46 pm
Author Ian Forman
Author Ian Forman

A retired managing director from Buckingham has taken a trip into a parallel universe in his first novel.

Born and brought up in Howth, Dublin, Ian Forman aged 72, is the retired managing director of two manufacturing engineering companies.

He married his wife, Mary, shortly after graduating as a mechanical engineer, and the couple emigrated from Ireland a few weeks later. The couple lived and worked for two years in Canada, followed by 10 years in Belgium, from where Ian worked internationally, before moving to the UK in 1984 and settling in Buckingham in 1988.

The cover picture of Howth harbour was painted by Ian's daughter, Annette

Those are the brief facts relating to Ian's life - or this one, at any rate.

For his novel, 'I Never Said I Was Conor: Waking Up in Howth', intriguingly explores what his life might be like in a parallel universe.

Written in the first person, he book begins with the narrator (also called Ian Forman) waking up from a short nap on a bench on the harbour promenade in the picturesque fishing village of Howth, near Dublin. His mobile phone no longer works and his car has gone missing.

He reports the theft of his car to the local Gardai, but his world is turned upside down when they tell him that his model of car doesn't even exist. When they try to help Ian contact his wife, they eventually discover that the woman Ian says he is married to has never heard of him and is, in fact, married to someone else.

None of Ian's brothers and sisters will admit that they know him and conclude that he is an unfortunate, mentally disturbed stranger. Ian is now a frightened nobody in this strange but vaguely familiar world. Has he gone insane? Is he a ghost?

He is all alone with no wife, no money, no home, no relations, no friends, no passport and he's not even sure of his own name.

His frantic search for an explanation begins. Can anyone help him find out what is really going on?

The idea for the story came to Ian from a dream, where he woke up in Howth and nobody knew him.

The plot hinges on an incident when the real-life Ian nearly drowned in Howth harbour at the age of 12, but was saved by a fisherman.

In the book, Ian finds that in the parallel world he did actually die - and hence the lives of all those around him have turned out differently, including Mary, who is married to someone else.

Ian said: "All the characters in it that are related to me are real. It's contrasting what actually happened to me and Mary to what would have happened if I'd drowned."

He added: "The book will appeal to any adult who has ever wondered ‘what if’ and reflected on how different their life might have been had they not gone to the event at which they met their future partner, or if they had accepted that job opportunity to live and work abroad. It will particularly appeal to anyone who has a connection to Dublin or Buckingham, where the story unfolds."

'I Never Said I Was Conor: Waking Up in Howth' is available at the Buckingham Bookshop in Hunter Street, and is available in paperback or e-book from Amazon.