E.Van working along. | Vicki McLeod - Phoenix Media


Have you ever wondered about someone who you see all the time in a cafe, but you have never spoken to? Is there someone who you see repeatedly but you don’t know anything about them? If you live in the SW of Mallorca and you visit the Palmanova cafe (previously known as Amadipesment) you may well have noticed E.Van sitting in the corner, tapping away on a laptop. But what is he doing there, day after day?

Do you come here often?
E.VAN: I’m here most mornings yes, as soon as I arrive the staff bring me a cup of coffee so I am quite a regular.

What are you doing?
I am a writer, and currently I am writing my autobiography in between writing my novels.

Tell us about yourself.
My mother was English. My father was Greek. So I was christened twice: once in the Greek Orthodox Church, and once in the English Methodist Church. I grew up in Whitley Bay in the Northeast of England, and I also lived in Cullercoats which is a beautiful little bay. My father left my mother when I was two, he left us with nothing. So she had to move in with my retired grandmother who had been on the stage. She was an actress, and granddad was a tumbler, he worked with Charlie Chaplin. He died before I was born. My mother was also on the stage, she and her mother sang all over the country. It runs in the family because after I had been in the Navy as a young man, I came ashore, and ended up playing the guitar and singing all over the world. I’ve always said that in life doors open, and you have a choice to walk through them, and I walked through every bloody door! I’ve worked as a fashion model, a debt collector, a film extra, a stuntman, a commercial diver, and a technical writer and a fiction writer.

What are you doing in Mallorca?
My partner and I have family here, and we moved over to be with them. They have since moved back, and we stayed. I’d always wanted to live back in the Mediterranean after living in the Med when I was a younger man. I love swimming and spearfishing and I wanted to live near water.

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What’s the difference between living in Mallorca and London?
London is dirty, smoky and smelly. You get in a car in Mallorca and you say where you’re going? Oh, it’s only about 10 minutes. You get in a car there and you say where is it? So I don’t know, it’s about five miles and it could take you all day to get there! But it’s the silly little things, which really make Mallorca for me, like when you go to a supermarket and there is somebody who’s only got two articles to buy, they will be invited to go in front of the queue, that would never happen in London, everyone is in a hurry, they’re all in a rush.

So why are you sitting here in the cafe?
I’m working. I am currently in the 17th century, if you know what I mean. I am writing a story set in that era, and I need to be able to lose myself in the story, so I sit here in the cafe to write. I’ve written 15 books with many of them set in the pre-Nelson era of British seafaring history. In those days it was not the Royal Navy today. For a start, you didn’t have what you call Admirals of the coast. There were seven regions with Navies. But they didn’t operate the same way as they do now because every individual captain had the right by law to attack any foreign ship that he wanted to confiscate its cargo, confiscate the ship, take the crew and he could sell the crew. But I don’t just write about that period. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Lord Franklin. In 1845 he tried to find a Northwest Passage to India, around the North Pole. But what happened was, apparently they got trapped in the ice. They had to abandon the ships and walk, but of course, they couldn’t, because it was so cold. They didn’t have any food and they ended up cannibalizing their shipmates. I have written about that, in Terror Beset.

How did you start writing?
I started working as a Commercial Diver and in 1966 the Offshore Oil Industry required divers and for the next 40 years I travelled the world, and dived up to 750 feet and did saturation dives that lasted over 43 days. During that time I worked and lived in 38 different countries as far apart as Borneo and Brazil, Norway and South Africa, most of the Middle East and the Caribbean. I began writing in 1974 during an exceptionally long 43 day saturation dive. Having read every book on the rig, I decided to write my own. It was in long hand, ran to 100,000 words and was a load of rubbish. But when I finally came ashore a friend suggested I join a writers’ group. I had some early success selling 3 plays for TV and writing articles for local papers. However divorce; the pressure of work, and the amount of travelling I was doing did not give me a lot of chances to seek publication but I continued to write for my own pleasure. Since moving to Mallorca in 2010 I have had the time to write again.

Tell us about your writers’ group.
I had a group before COVID, but obviously we had to stop meeting. Now I want to start it up again. I am happy to give tips on how to start working on an idea. A lot of people want to write their own autobiography. I recommend that they start by breaking down their lives in periods, school days, college days etc, and write notes about those times in their lives. Everyone is welcome to join, they just need to contact me for more information about the meeting dates and times.

You can contact E.Van via email evj1940@outlook.com or call 689 973 610 for more information about his books and his free writing group. E.Van sells his books on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B0080CJMPY/about. You can listen to a longer version of this interview on the Majorca Mallorca podcast which is released on Spotify and other podcast channels every Monday.