First novel published for author 82

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A former history teacher has penned his first book aged 82.

Mark Cheng, who lives in Kneller Close, Bedford will see his book, Father Paul’s War hit the shelves on August 31.

Mr Cheng left his Hong Kong birthplace aged 12 seeking refuge in China after the country was taken over by the Japanese. Later, under the wing of his old headmaster, he travelled to India before returning to Hong Kong to do teacher training.

Mark, who taught at St Gregory’s Secondary Modern School, and was choirmaster at St Philip and St James’ Church in Brickhill, said: “The idea for the book goes back a long time. It deals with the destruction of the monastery in about chapter two and I was still at school when that happened, my teachers told me about it and it really stuck in my mind.

“After I retired I spoke to a monk that I knew and asked if anything had been written about that episode in history. He told me about a historical book by Thomas Merton called Waters Of Siloe, I felt that there was a story there that needed to be told, but I wanted to write it as a novel to reach a wider audience, who would not want to read a more serious book.”

In the 1960s Mark met his wife Irene, and pre-empting Hong Kong being handed back to the Chinese, the pair moved to Bedford.

After his retirement in 1991 Mark has immersed himself in artistic pursuits and has displayed his paintings at the Eagle Gallery in Castle Road, he also plays the flute and the recorder.

His novel tells the story of Paul Leung, who escapes across the mountains to Hong Kong during the Civil War in China.

Mark, whose book is published by Alliance Publishing Press, said: “This is fiction but it is rooted in history.

“The story is about one of those monks that travelled to Hong Kong, it’s a bit of a road movie as it were.”

To pre-order a copy of Mark’s book visit