In the grand journey of life, where paths meander and dreams often linger on the horizon, the story of Martin Winter stands as a testament to the timeless adage that it’s never too late to pursue one’s deepest passions.
Born in Adelaide in 1952, Winter’s journey unfolded through diverse chapters—from navigating the vast expanse of Europe and the Soviet Union, and later, leading multinational ventures across the Americas and Europe. Now, in the embrace of retirement, Winter has embarked on a new chapter as a first-time writer, unveiling his debut work, the gripping mystery novel The First Quran.
His tale is a reminder that dreams can bloom at any age, adding a touch of intrigue to the notion that life’s most fulfilling endeavors may await us in unexpected places, even during the golden moments of retirement.
While many of us will hold dreams and goals near to us for a lifetime, unfortunately, some will go unfulfilled. This certainly is not the case for Winter who describes the culmination of his hard work materialise in book form as a mix of “satisfaction exhilatation and relief”.
“Anyone who has started writing later in life and subsequently held the finished article in their hands will understand,” he explains.
“Even if you have great writing skills, getting it done is a significant achievement because it requires commitment. That might sound like bad news at a time when you are winding down, but the truth is, there are no time limits, and if I can do it, anyone can.
“Retirement is an important reflection period in everyone’s lives and the rewards of writing far outweigh any anguish you might suffer, like if the dog chews on your manuscript. The alternative for me was to push the trolley around the supermarket, which just didn’t cut it.”
Winter’s inspiration to pen the mystery The First Quaran was kindled by his travels, the seed of the book taking root in his early twenties as he journeyed around Greece with his then-girlfriend, now his wife.
“We were renting a room in a shack overlooking the beach on a Greek island, making the most of the last gasps of summer, when a girl not much younger than us moved in below, by herself,” he says.
“She had been acrimoniously thrown out of home for seeing a boy without a chaperone. Wow! The contrast between our carefree relationship and her suffering was striking, so much so that I promised myself I would one day make a story of it.
“As it happened, the incident didn’t make the final cut in The First Quran, but the girl’s courage has been captured in the character of Ella, a WWII partisan, and I still have the option of creating her full story.”
That chance encounter inspired a yearning to experience all the adventure that life has to offer, making travel a “non-negotiable” for Winter. He explains that if he “can feel it” then he can “write about it with conviction”.
“From that moment on, I began to think more about what it is to be human, and it has been experiences like this, gathered over time, that I constantly draw from as a writer – like arguing about democracy over a bottle of vodka with Russian submariners, like the endless summers I have sailed through the Aegean visiting the places mentioned by Homer, and like taking long road trips through the Middle East, just to hunt out the aroma of lamb grilling over charcoal, swallowing a few flies and sleeping in cheap digs,” Winter recalls.
“These adventures have filled my imagination with enough stuff for many more books – my challenge now is to take a lead from my mother’s indomitable spirit, who at aged eighty nine boarded an aircraft in Adelaide and got off in South America, just so she could spend some more time while she still could, with my kids in Brazil, where I was working at the time. I’m still unsure what fuelled her lust for life. I’ve settled on coffee in the morning and a glass or two of Prosecco at night.”
As observers marvel at Winter’s life filled with adventure and whirlwind experiences, there might be a tendency to perceive it as unattainable, causing some to relegate their dreams to the backburner. Winter, however, emphasises the timeless truth that “it’s never too late to begin”.
“Everyone has a story in them. For what it’s worth, I say have a go! See where it takes you. You will be amazed at the support you receive,” he says.