Rolf Richardson, Pilot, Photographer and Author

by Abigail Richardson from Oakham in United Kingdom

Rolf Richardson was born on November 5th 1933 and was just 6 years old when war unfolded. At the tender age of 7, he embarked on a new chapter, finding solace in the embrace of a weekly boarding school. His journey led him to Radley College at the age of 13, where his happiness knew no bounds. Amid his diverse pursuits, Rolf's passion for flight took root, and the skies became his canvas.

Upon leaving school, his path intersected with a call to duty as he devoted two years to the Royal Air Force, honing his flying skills in response to the nation's demand for pilots during the Korean War. Amidst these endeavors, his affinity for animals stirred thoughts of a veterinary career, though reality soon illuminated a different direction.

A twist of fate cast him as a savior on a remote Norwegian farm when his survival instincts beckoned. At just 20 years old, he embarked on a six-month endeavor, practically managing the farm until the Viking Snow Plough met its end, prompting his departure. Dabbling in the Stock Exchange for a year followed, before a six-month sojourn in Norway, where he travelled extensively.

In a pivotal juncture, the government's call resonated as BOAC sought recruits, becoming British Airways, and Rolf seized his destiny at 22. For a quarter of a century, he blissfully navigated the skies but when Lord King sought voluntary redundancies to untangle the complications woven by the merger, Rolf was glad to pursue pastures new.

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Maintaining his love for exploration, he found his eye drawn to the lens of a camera, embarking on a career in freelance photography. The world became his canvas, and his images traversed the globe through stock libraries. 

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You can also view over 13,000 of Rolf's images on Alamay

These visual tales paved the way for another chapter: captivating audiences as a lecturer aboard cruise ships, recounting his tales of destinations.

As 2015 unfolded, with a portfolio encompassing over 110 countries, the yearning for home grew stronger. Thus began his foray into the realm of 'Easy Reads': gripping thrillers woven against backdrops of his travels, a testament to the multifaceted nature of his journey.

Rolf's life story, a symphony of diverse experiences, serves as an inspiration to us all, reflecting the resilience of a soul that danced through the tapestry of time and place.

In a Blog interview with Sue Bavey in February 2022, Rolf shared his reasons for venturing into the world of self-publishing.

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

Most unknown authors have no choice. Traditional publishers will only take work from agents. And agents will not even look at stuff from unknown authors unless they are famous in another field. Fortunately, self-publishing is now relatively inexpensive and probably more efficient than the ‘normal’ route. 

My No.1 Indie book in 2015 was ‘The Last Weiss’, set in Germany and Norway during the final 12 months of WW2. I was fascinated by how the Third Reich was actually run and why it carried on until total destruction.

No 2, ‘Coffin Corner’, is set in the 1960s and explores the rise of the airline business and how Singapore went from a no-hope little island to arguably the best run country on earth.

No.3. ‘Bear Bugger Cruise’ is a jolly in the Caribbean, with vanishing customers, mystery, mayhem and strange characters.

No. 4. ‘Night Watchman’ is a political thriller set in London. Written before Covid, it forecasts a pandemic, but I get the response hopelessly wrong.

No. 5. ’Road to Mandalay’, is about cyber warfare, China versus the West, a topic that has got even hotter.

No. 6. ‘Stasiland’ is set in present-day Germany, where the old Communist East still casts a long shadow.

No. 7. ’Letter from Galapagos’ is about two yachties on a round-the-world trip, who vanish in the Pacific.

No. 8. ‘Tea with Rasputin’ starts in Alaska, when an airline pilot vanishes, and ends in St.Petersburg, Russia, having Tea with Rasputin.

No. 9. ‘Nile Sleeper’ is set in the 1980s Middle East with assassinations and conflict – problems that are still with us.

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What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres? 

You write about what you know and are interested in. I call mine ‘Easy reads’, designed purely as entertainment, nothing fancy: They are international thrillers, with a mix of humour, romance, politics and travel.

Do you only read the genre that you write?  

I read a lot of history, in fact many of my books are set in ‘recent history – WW2 until the present day. In current fiction, I love Lee Child, further back Cornwell’s Sharpe and the Flashman series – the last two historical fiction, which is what I try and do. 

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration? 

On TV there’s been an overkill of police dramas, which now all seem set in gloom; I prefer the quirky Old Inspector Frost series. For the rest, again I go for anything historical. 

As for music, with the honourable exception of Lloyd Webber, Abba and Les Mis, ‘music’ for me ended in about 1945: Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Puccini, names that, for most people, seem to have vanished in the mists of time. I used to go to a lot of opera and have just written a Rigoletto reference into my current book – Who was ‘Rigoletto’? Go Google! 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just write, but don’t expect many people to read your masterpieces.  

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

Book number ten is currently at 36,00 words, roughly the halfway stage, provisionally called ‘The Freddy Files’. Again, an international thriller with a couple of murders (so far), centred around the people trafficking of migrants. Hopefully ready next spring.

Find Sue’s Indie Spotlight Blog HERE

Rolf recently wrote non-fiction based on his life-long passions including:

'NORWAY’S WAR 1940-1945' (2022) - An account that focuses on the Norwegian people as involved as much as the events themselves. It includes much material only available in Norwegian. The dramatic events of the campaign were followed by five years of German occupation when Norway was ruled with dictatorial powers by Hitler’s henchman, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven.

'THE AIRLINER’S YOUTH YEARS: 1945-1970' (2023) - The story of the turbulent quarter-century that saw the youth years of the airliner, a time of explosive technical advances, full of triumph and tragedy.


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Rolf, sadly, passed away on July 4th, 2023, aged 89. He was the beloved father of Peter and Ellen Richardson, devoted husband to Audrey, and grandfather to Jess and Lara Chiltern and MY HERO's Kitty Richardson and her brother Luc - they called him 'Bolkie'.

Watch Kitty's Video in memorial of her grandfather, made from old family footage and set to Kitty's original song, 'Confetti'. 


Page created on 8/16/2023 4:44:40 PM

Last edited 8/18/2023 9:00:27 AM

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