PETER Perrin recently became a first time author at the age of 73 with a novel called Grace’s Turmoil. The RAF veteran lives with his wife, Ann, in Coleview.

THE average heroine in a modern romance novel is in her twenties.

The heroine of Grace’s Turmoil, a romantic novel set in a retirement community, is in her 60s and her suitor is in his 70s.

Their creator Peter Perrin explained: “I felt – I still feel – that older people, especially when you get to be over 60, are very much written off by people, both in real life and in novels. It’s the one foot in the grave thing, carpet slippers and sitting in front of the telly all day long, waiting for the Grim Reaper.

“I wanted to try and combat that a little bit, as best I could. I know a lot of people at the Coleview Community Centre and places like that who are so full of life. We go there and we’re the youngest people there most of the time.

“They put you to shame with their energy. Their drive for life is just astonishing.

“It’s only virtually since the book was finished that I found out – I deal with a lot of people online all over the world, to do with writing – that I have hit a vein.

“There are people looking for heroines that they can identify with. They’re looking for heroines who have life experience, who’ve been divorced, bereaved, have come through that and found romance again. I thought it would be nice to try and show that.

“The other thing is that relationships between older people are shown as being platonic, a friendship thing.

“The book isn’t raunchy but it’s got enough to show that you can still be in relationships with romance and sex and whatever.”

Peter has an unusual background for an author of romantic fiction.

Originally from Romford in Essex, he is a son of a decorated World War Two veteran who served aboard Lancasters and later worked in various jobs, including as an engineer and bus driver.

Peter himself joined the RAF at 15-and-a-half. He served for almost 15 years as an armourer, including stints in Madagascar, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and during the Aden Emergency, an insurgency in what is now Yemen.

During his military career he worked on weapons ranging from small arms to air-to-air missiles, as well as ejector seats.

His most alarming moment was in Aden, as a bomber was being loaded with weaponry.

“There was one day when we were loading thousand pound bombs and I heard a great thump on the ground. I looked round and a thousand pound bomb had dropped off and landed fairly close to me.

“I’d helped arm all these, and you can get different time delays and things, and these were set for instantaneous. So I thought, ‘If that was going to go up I’d be dead by now.’ Fortunately, it turned out that they had to drop a certain distance before they became armed.

‘I was quite happy until the guy in charge came running down the aircraft steps, screaming, ‘Run away!’. We did…”

Returning to civilian life, he worked in many jobs, including as a mechanical fitter, in quality control with the Ford Motor Company, and as a quality control chief inspector with another firm.

Peter then spent about 20 years with the Post Office, initially as an electrical fitter and later rising into management. He retired eight years ago.

During his career he gave no thought to becoming a writer.

“When I was first married, I wrote a little bit of poetry, and I also used to write short stories that were just for our children, but that’s got to be over 35 years ago.

“I hadn’t really done anything since then, but out of the blue my granddaughter – she has massive skill in writing – self-published two books on Amazon at the age of 14.

“A lot of people say, ’Oh, I’d like to write a book,’ but I’d never had any thought of doing it. But that made me think, ‘If she’s not too young to write a book, maybe I’m not too old’.”

He is convinced that writing also helps to keep the mind sharp.

“I’d recommend it, even to people who say, ‘Oh, I couldn’t write a book’. Write something, even if it’s only short stories, a poem. And if you can write a book, even if you never dare to get it published, write it. The mental stimulation is amazing.

“I didn’t organise, I didn’t plot stuff out, but I sat down and I interviewed the two characters in my head. I wrote some interview questions and answers as if they were real people. I wrote profiles on them.”

Peter even investigated star signs to discover which ones made his main characters compatible. There were times during the writing process when the characters seemed to take on lives of their own, doing things he hadn’t planned.

“It’s a spooky feeling but it’s quite a thrill.”

A fellow writer recommended an online publisher who offered a contract. Grace’s Turmoil is available both as an e-book at £3.74 and a paperback at £7.48.

It is published by Devine Destinies – – and is available from Amazon.