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BobOswald.com - the official website of author, technial writer, web designer and graphic artist Bob Oswald

 

 

About Bob
I was born in the Arthurs Hill district of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north of England in 1941. My father was an electrical and mechanical engineer who moved around the world quite a lot. When I was just a few months old we went to live in Belfast, Northern Ireland where we remained until 1947 when my father took a job in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. My mother and I embarked on a long sea voyage by tanker to join him there while my two older sisters were placed in boarding schools.

I was nine when I too was sent back to Belfast to a boarding school where I remained for the next six years - never seeing my parents once during that period. When they eventually returned to the UK I joined them and on a family vacation I saw the Bewcastle Cross which sparked my lifelong interest in runes.

Those lonely weeks, months and years at boarding school were frequently filled with reading and writing. I was heavily influenced by one of my boyhood heroes, the celebrated science fiction author James White who lent me pulp sci-fi magazines of the day and encouraged me to try my hand at writing as well. This was many years before White himself became famous, but his early stories in the pulp magazines were an inspiration to me. I was also enthused by a wonderful English teacher named Paul Sephton who never stinted in his encouragement.

I started work as a lab technician in 1958 having completed two years at technical college. I was soon disenchanted with 'thing-work' and longed for the opportunity to do some 'people-work'. My earliest efforts at writing were - perhaps inevitably - sci-fi stories. Meanwhile, I found a niche in the world of people-work with a job in the tourism industry, a field in which I worked for the next 25 years.

My first employment in tourism was as a lowly desk clerk and after a year or two I bluffed my way into a job as a tour guide on the popular coach vacations of the day. For fellow Brits a 'vacation' is a holiday - I guess you already knew that, and for our transatlantic cousins a 'coach' in this case is a touring bus. For all visitors a tour guide was commonly known in those days as a 'courier'. If you already knew that you will probably be nearly as old as I am!

Doing the courier thing was fine in the summer months, I had a lot of fun and learned much of the geography and culture of continental Europe, but the winter was a different matter. A courier was laid-off in October and re-employed - if he or she was lucky - in April, so I did many silly short-term jobs in those five-month periods. I cleaned sewers beneath London's streets, sold vacuums door-to-door, cooked breakfasts in a coffee shop, operated a fairground Ferris wheel, clerked at a printing works and did many other unglamorous tasks. And I eked out all of these meagre earnings by writing. Nothing startling, I have to say. Fillers, short articles, the occasional short story, and a spell as travel correspondent for local newspapers - notably the Bedford Record, a friendly little weekly newspaper now sadly defunct.

In later years I wrote a lot of vacation brochures. I might well have been the guy that described your 1970s hotel as '5 minutes from the beach', whilst omitting to tell you that the estimate was based on a rocket-assisted dash on roller-skates. I eventually reached the dizzy heights of managing director of a major Canadian tour operating company before returning to the UK seeking pastures new.

By the 1980s the tourism industry had changed out of all recognition from the exciting business I had joined in the swinging 60s and I found myself learning about quality assurance and as a business consultant in this field I wrote my first non-fiction book. It was intended as a do-it-yourself manual for small companies. It was not the most popular guide to quality assurance ever published and rightly faded into obscurity faster than an unsuccessful election candidate. Meanwhile my interest in runes was now applied to the emerging medium of the world wide web and my first website runemaker.com was launched in 1997.

I retired from gainful employment in 2001 and began to concentrate on development of the Runemaker group of websites. Such skills as I had learned from my early writing exploits were now employed on web pages instead of paper. Through long hours and good luck runemaker.com was developed into the largest runes website on the web with the second-highest visitor count of any runes-related site anywhere in the world.

In attempting to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for information about runes I started to adapt my web pages and other writings into e-books. I offered a couple of them as free downloads and others as inexpensive booklets. Several of these are still available if you care to take a look at the E-Books and Downloads pages.

My current publishers Regency House were surfing the web one day, looking for new ideas for their series of successful illustrated books and came across runemaker.com. They were impressed enough to offer me a commission to write Discovering Runes. It was to be my first hard copy book in years and I jumped at the opportunity to get back to the business of writing professionally.

I have a number of projects either in work or in the planning stage. One is a book about Heraldry - another one of my passions - and I am working on The Rune Makers Handbook which is the working title of a do-it-yourself manual for would-be rune makers. I have a sketchy outline for my first fiction work for over 40 years as well. The working title for that one is Runehunter. You can find out a little more about these and other works in progress on the Projects page.

 

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Web Design by Bob Oswald

Visit Bob's main runes website at runemaker.com