For Charles Zammit, seeing his first novel published was a dream come true.
But it was also a reward for his perseverance.
The Raymond Terrace author had been turning his ideas into stories for 40 years but always “filed them away”, never setting about having them published.
That was until the idea for Reckless came to him, a thriller focused on a family’s treacherous journey home after a holiday in Bali.
It took Mr Zammit 18 months to write Reckless, a story that he envisages in a trilogy.
But the hardest part of the process was having Reckless published.
“It is a very very difficult business to be in. It’s a cutthroat business,” Mr Zammit said.
“When you think about it, every minute there’s a book being published somewhere around the world. There’s a flood of books and the competition is fierce.”
After two years of sending his book to publishers in Australia and the United States and receiving more rejection letters than he could count he finally struck gold in the United Kingdom.
Publishing house Austin Macauley loved the synopsis to Reckless so much they quickly asked for the manuscript.
Three weeks after that he received a contract in the mail, which Mr Zammit said was “really really pleasing”.
“I lost count how many times it [book] got rejected,” he said.
“I stopped keeping tabs simply because it was upsetting me too much. Honestly, it [rejection] does hurt. But two days later you tell yourself to pull your socks up and get on with it.
“My girlfriend, Marion [Nelson], said to me ‘one last go, try the UK’. Now here I am.
“I was very very lucky that I found this publisher.”
What was more pleasing, Mr Zammit said, was also receiving a letter from an Austin Macauley editor praising his ability to tell a good tale with the correct grammar and punctuation, saying he had a good grasp on the English language.
Not bad for a man whose second language is English, and self-taught at that.
The Matlese-born Mr Zammit moved to Australia with his family in 1965.
He lived in Sydney before moving to Raymond Terrace about 17 years ago.
While he knew a few words and phrases in English (Malta was under British rule until 1964), when Mr Zammit arrived in Australia aged 17 he expanded his English vocabulary the good old fashioned way – using a dictionary.
It is a method he still uses.
“I usually have a dictionary sitting on my table,” he said. “If there's a word I don’t understand or don’t know how to spell I look it up. I also learned Spanish that way.”
Reckless is now available to purchase online from Amazon, the Book Depository and the Austin Macauley website.
The story is launched when teenager Jake Miller disregards common sense and attempts to buy marijuana in Bali, where his family is on holiday.
He is arrested and thrown in prison by corrupt and untrustworthy members of law enforcement.
On leave from his tours in Afghanistan, L.T. Sullivan “Sulli” Cooper decides to take his nephew’s matters into his own hands.
Sulli plans to not only break Jake out of the Indonesian prison, but also to transport the Miller family home – a mission filled with mishaps, errors, and evil enemies.
“There is some funny parts, some very serious matters and there’s a message behind it.”
Mr Zammit has been asked to do a reading for a Raymond Terrace book club early in 2018.