Why on Earth have you done this?

David Flin

Published 15th October 2020

Last time, I explained about the origin of the name Sergeant Frosty. This time, I’m going to be a bit more serious, and explain why I decided to start Sergeant Frosty Publications.

I’ve been writing in various formats for over 25 years; mainly technical articles for magazines and newspapers. During that time, I’ve been editor of various magazines, again on technical matters. It was all fairly ephemeral stuff; people were interested in a piece for a month, and then it was old news. After a while, I found I was writing similar things time after time after time.

So, I decided to start writing fiction. The technical articles paid the bills, and the fiction was fun to write.

That’s how things would have stayed were it not for a medical check-up I had in November 2019.

“I’m terribly sorry, Mr Flin. I’ve got some very bad news for you.”

He did have some bad news. It turned out I had quite advanced cancer, and the Consultant was talking in terms of “when” rather than “if” it would be fatal.

A ticking clock can be very persuasive. I decided that if it was the case that I may not have so many days left to me that I would like, I would make sure that I enjoyed each and every one of them. Quality, even if I couldn’t get quantity. I enjoyed writing fiction, and I enjoyed telling bedtime stories, so it seemed logical to start writing more fiction.

Then, when talking to a number of other writers, I found that they also had this urge to write and they were good at it, but weren’t sure what to do once they’d written the story. “You’ve been an editor,” some said. “How hard can it be?”

I asked myself, how hard can it be? Well, I wasn’t quite stupid enough to think that it would be easy. After all, I had been an editor and knew some of the pitfalls. I would give the matter some thought.

Shortly after this, I had a stay in a specialist cancer hospital, the Royal Marsden in Sutton. It was there that I came across their children’s ward.

There are some things in life that are just plain wrong, and children with cancer is one of them. There’s nothing I can do to help find a cure for cancer, but I can write, and I know how to edit. I could publish books for children and young adults. It doesn’t cure cancer, but if it brings a bit of happiness into their lives, that’s something.

I had the motivation. I had the objective. All I needed was the time to get it started. I knew full well it wasn’t going to be easy, but that ticking clock meant I was in a hurry to get started.

Well, I spent a summer undergoing operations and treatments and all sorts of things. At the end of it, the same Consultant who had told me back in November that my case was “Terminal” told me that he was pretty confident that I had been “cured.”

Hooray for medicine. Well, I made a promise that I would do this thing, so here I am, doing it.

This is for you, all the wonderful medical people at the Royal Marsden. And, for the children there as patients, keep on. Enjoy life and remember that there’s always hope.