Mike Leaver

I am a single, semi-retired handyman, aged 69. I live in a converted, static truck on a small-town business park in Snowdonia – and write books for pleasure.

Somewhat of an eccentric, my truck has no electricity, mains water, or central-heating, and I studiously live on around £25 a week in Porthmadog. As well as writing my first three novels – largely on a lap-top by candlelight in my truck – and almost completing work on my two-part life memoir, I am an active University Of The Third Age (U3A) member. Each week I enjoy table tennis, chess, and solo-mountaineering.

Why I chose to live this lifestyle is quite a complicated tale that has evolved over 60 years. I started with my parents in a childhood council house; then lived in a seaside caravan for a while; got a job and made a flat in an industrial warehouse; moved on to a houseboat; ended up sleeping and eating in an office kitchen; spent a few days in an estate car...and finally converted a lorry!

I spent a great deal of time and money converting my boat into a house. But this caused problems with the authorities, and I could only sail it a few miles on waterways. I had a motorbike, and then a three-wheeler car, to get around. But I gradually realised I wanted to be more comfortable while I travelled to do what I love – mountaineering, rock climbing, potholing, and sailing. And to have somewhere safe to write about it. So I bought a lorry and began converting it. And I just added extension and improvements over time. I have now lived in my immobile truck for 30 years. It does have a kitchen, bed-sitting room, and even a roof-garden.

Like Alan Bennett's 'The Lady In The Van', I have become a well-known character around my adopted home. I like Porthmadog so much mainly because it is a lovely friendly town and community, with easy access to walking and climbing in magnificent Snowdonia, but also the stunning coastline and sea on my doorstep.

I'm originally from the West Midlands but discovered the charms of neighbouring Tremadog 20 years before on a walking/mountaineering holiday. I had inhabited a self-adapted houseboat on English West Country rivers – until it eventually sank. Homeless, I survived in its recovered hulk by cannibalising it over three years!

Workwise, I have been a business bookkeeper, a boat captain and corporate events co-ordinator, and always a self-taught craftsman – able to do most engineering and construction trades to a high-quality standard. I have also enjoyed four epic adventures overseas – motorbiking to the Alps, and taking my truck to wildernesses in North Africa and Scandinavia, to trek and climb mountains.

Over the years I have turned my fortunes around from being relatively destitute to living an idyllic life. After I resigned from my job as a company accountant and my self-employed business as a motorcycle dealer failed, I was homeless. I took advantage of the Government's Unemployment Re-Training Scheme to get a weekly grant to become a writer.

Then I got a few really tough manual jobs, before talking my way into a pleasure-boat company to become a captain. When I eventually came to Porthmadog, I found plenty of work as a handyman and earned as much as I needed.

As a committed vegetarian and recycler – who has never owned a television or been tempted to consumerism – I keep my living expenses extremely low. I hope to persuade others to pursue this path to happiness, especially in harsh economic, social, and environmental times.

An only-child of single children, my early-years were among the bomb sites of post-war Birmingham suburban Council Estates. Asthma and persistent chest-complaints persuaded my parents to let the local authority send me to a more rural boarding school – a 'dumping ground' for weaklings. But I hated the school's cruelty so much, my mum moved me down to a Somerset caravan, and back again, to finish my education in a comprehensive school's 'delicate' unit, mostly with girls.

Many girls there thought I was a freak, but my hormones made me fascinated with them, so even though I was very shy, I began to nervously interact with them in my own naïve way.

As I got older and started work, I realised how to stay and manage difficult situations rather than run away. Through that I built some excellent teams and strong friendships – but I still knew when it was time to get out of damaging confrontations.

With such an interesting life, I think I remained a bachelor because I was only ever interested in sensible ladies – with natural hair, proper shoes, and no painted nails or make-up.  And finally, although I became very close friends with several ladies, somehow my lack of confidence and romantic hormones meant I could never quite summon up the courage to directly ask the crucial question at the right moment.

Aside from all the people I've met – who have obviously contributed bits of their real character to the ones I create – three others have significantly inspired my fledgling writing career.

Firstly, there's the editor of the now-vintage 'High' Magazine for hill walkers and climbers. He commissioned my first paid article about the struggles of trying to find a soulmate through personal ads. But more importantly, he recommended me to another published author of climbing and travel books.  James Perrin's way of life and advice made me determined to become a creative writer.

And finally, more recently, my literary agent and publicist Ian Spindley, of Sustain Media, found leading UK publisher Book Guild Ltd for my work, negotiated a deal with them, and is managing all my marketing and public relations.

When writing, I imagine a friendly reader sitting in an armchair, laughing – and occasionally crying – while I try to give them advice on how to start their own life of happiness.


Mike Leaver's Books

ISBN: 9781915122513

£13.95

Yeti Seeks Mate: In Pursuit Of Dreams

Aug. 28, 2022

Yeti (male 28) seeks mate. Can be seen Christmas/Easter roaming Ben Nevis, Snowdon some weekends in between. Migrates to Alps around June. Very friendly, generally harmless, except on ski slopes. Very safe experienced motorcyclist Britain and abroad – would get sidecar if nagged. Please write... (Personal ad published in a national mountaineering magazine.)

From an asthmatic childhood spent on post-war Birmingham bomb-sites, Mike Leaver escaped from cruel State boarding schools to careers as a lab technician, accountant, pleasure-boat captain, and local builder.

Mike has also been:


  • a homeless hermit inhabiting a derelict boat surrounded by drug addicts;

  • an adventurer/mountaineer in the UK, Scandinavia, and North Africa

  • a semi-retired handyman writing books while enjoying an ideal life off-grid in a converted lorry in a pretty coastal town.

Embark on an extraordinary journey of an eccentric pursuing dreams of love, writing and the path to happiness in a memoir that’s as charming as it is quirky.

 

Mike Leaver, 69, lives in a converted, static truck on a small-town business park in Snowdonia. As well as writing his first three modern-fiction novels – largely on a laptop by candlelight in his lorry – he has almost finished penning the second part of his life-memoir specifically about mountaineering and outdoor adventure. Like Alan Bennett's London eccentric The Lady in The Van, Mike has become a well-known character around his adopted home of Porthmadog.

ISBN: 9781913913342

£8.99

Nork from Nowhere: An Orphan Boy's Amazing Journey To Belonging

Sept. 28, 2021

Upper-class teen Sara flees her parents' middle-England mansion after a disastrous party. She happens upon Nork, a mysterious young, orphan boy seemingly from nowhere. 

Together they go on the run. Evading the authorities and becoming ever more inter-dependent during their long journey, they finally land up in the Scottish wilderness. 

They find themselves in a small loch-side town, but will they become the victims of the ruthless, hotel owner McTavish – or can they discover a new life and purpose there? 

This is a coming-of-age story with comedy, romance and sexual references, that is both thought-provoking and amusing.

Mike Leaver is a semi-retired, handyman aged 68. He lives in a converted, static 10-ton truck on a small-town business park in Snowdonia – and writes books for pleasure. Mike’s immobile home has no electricity, mains water or central heating. As well as writing his first two novels – largely on a lap-top by candlelight in his lorry – he is penning his life story. Like Alan Bennett’s eccentric The Lady in The Van, Mike has become a well-known character around his adopted home of Porthmadog. 

 

ISBN: 9781913913687

£10.99

The Ice Cream Terrorist: An Orphan Girl's Fight for Family, Freedom and a Knickerbocker Glory

Nov. 28, 2021

Two forcibly segregated, separate sex, and rurally isolated schools are inhabited by malevolent masters, petrified pupils, more-kindly matrons, and a handful of true heroes – including The Ice Cream Terrorist.

This titanic tale of redemption shows how pupils and staff – blighted by dysfunctional, post-war, orphanage schools in Britain – escape and reform the brutal system.

Join their journey through school suffering, then on a road trip to a coastal idyll full of kindness, safety, and real-life skills, and eventually different lives. Free from oppression with more enlightened care, they create progressive futures.

Mike Leaver’s epic saga spans two decades, England and Wales, and many major themes of 20th century life – such as homelessness, rebelliousness, lesbian love, and loyalty.

Mike is really experienced at escaping from State boarding school, and so aspects of his personal life feature – and are sometimes exaggerated – in the travails and adventures of his larger-than-life, fictional pupils!

Mike Leaver is a semi-retired, handyman aged 68. He lives in a converted, static 10-ton truck on a small-town business park in Snowdonia – and writes books for pleasure. Mike’s immobile home has no electricity, mains water or central heating. As well as writing his first two novels – largely on a laptop by candlelight in his truck – he is penning his life story. Like Alan Bennett’s eccentric The Lady in The Van, Mike has become a well-known character around his adopted home of Porthmadog.