SINCE moving to a new lifestyle on the Costa del Sol, Stuart Wright has written three books and is now working on his fourth.
Could it be the sunshine that’s inspired him, I ask.
“Either that or the San Miguel,” he laughs.
“Something has definitely made my brain wake up though,” says Stuart, who since leaving Shelf in September 2002, has been living the life of an ex-pat in sun-drenched Fuengirola.
“At school I was a bit of a slacker. I didn’t really put my mind to anything,” he adds.
But he now admits that the writing bug has bitten, buoyed by the great feedback he has received since becoming a published author.
His latest work, More Interesting Than Your Teacher is a quirky but very accessible take on many of the important lessons about the world around us.
He has taken typical textbook theories and put his own unique spin on them, replacing them with fun and fascinating explanations.
He covers subjects such as history, science, geography and maths but the subjects he covers are amusing, profound and surprising.
Dip into the book, which is packed with colourful illustrations and you can finally get answers to pressing puzzles and issues such as do fish ever go to sleep, what exactly are calories, where do place names come from and who invented the first clock.
You can read about thunder and lightning, kilts, oil, bed bugs, lost treasure, yawning, fathoms, knots and nautical miles.
And you’ll finally get an answer on which came first, the chicken or the egg?
“It all started with the horizon,” says Stuart who is now 58.
“I was sitting having a coffee one day, staring out to sea and I wondered how far away is the horizon. There just be a simple answer.”
He began to look into it, as well as researching into other topics that either came into his head or popped up in conversation.
“Someone would say something and I’d think, now that’s interesting. I think I’ll go away and find out about it.”
The idea for a book then began to take shape, but he knew it had to be a book that would entertain and amuse, as well as educate.
“No disrespect to academics but there are enough heavy tomes out there already. I don’t think this is a book academics will be buying but I wanted to publish something that would be light-hearted and fun and something which would appeal to all ages. I wanted it to be a factual book about serious subjects but presented as quick bursts of facts.
“I suppose it’s the kind of book you might keep in the loo,” he says laughing.
“And it’s the kind of book, a kid might read and then try and use to catch his teacher out - hence the title.”
The book is already selling all over the world and has just been released in the UK where Stuart hopes it will be just as well received.
“Apparently I’m quite big in Singapore. It’s selling like mad there for some reason - which is great news.”
Stuart used to work as sales director for a large printed packaging company, travelling all over the world on business, and it was after a particularly gruelling day at work that he made his decision to emigrate.
“I pulled up the drive one day after the daily 240 mile round trip and thought there must be more to life than this. It was like a vision,” he says.
By the time he had walked into the house, the idea of moving abroad had lodged in his mind and he shared his thoughts with his partner Chris, who he has since married since moving to Spain.
“She was on board with the idea and that was it. We started the wheels in motion.”
The couple ran a tea shop for a while after first emigrating and then Stuart began to settle into his writing. His first book, Life’s A laugh On the Costa - Honest! was intended as a guide for other Brits wishing to follow his footsteps (and avoid inevitable pitfalls.)
It was followed by They’re All Foreigners Abroad, an hilarious inventory of what we might expect to see or experience on our foreign holidays.
The first two books were self-published but Stuart admits he is now thrilled to find a publisher for his third. More Interesting Than Your Teacher is published by Black Dog, who have already shown interest in a follow-up.
“Well there are certainly enough topics,” he says. “I’ve already started putting together the chapters and this next book will cover things such as plankton or is there enough water to drink on the planet.
“The hardest thing about the first volume was for me to distil the many hundreds of hours research I’d put in and present it as two or four-page burst so as not to bore the reader. The other problem I have of course, is that there are endless subjects I could look into. The scope is endless, so many things fascinate me.”
And with that he goes on to inform me that Paris’s famous Eiffel tower was not intended for the city at all, but actually designed to be in Barcelona and regale me with interesting facts about how the Qwerty key board came into being.
l More Interesting Than Your Teacher by Stuart Wright is now available at Fred Wade, Halifax and The Book Case, Hebden Bridge.