Peter Lihou

Sussex 1950

Peter was born in a small cottage, nestled between a railway embankment and a bridge, a few years after his parents were ‘demobbed’ from the RAF after world war two.
A baby brother was not really the first choice of his three year old sister, Maureen, who demanded her parents ‘put him in the dustbin’ but as a compromise she named him ‘Linda Irene’ and that just about made the new arrival acceptable to her!
Young Peter’s childhood was spent in a number of locations across England as his father, later to be dubbed ‘MBE’ by the Queen for services to charity, sought to make a peacetime career to support his young family.
His mother being Scottish and father a Channel Islander meant that holidays were spent at the extremities of the UK. The colder northern climate was more than compensated for by the warmth of a large family of cousins, aunts and uncles. His grandparents owned a sweet shop by the Tram lines in Glasgow. But it was the southern holidays that Peter loved. Guernsey in the 1950s seemed magical. Not only was the Lihou family name entrenched in local history going back as far records could be found, but there was even a ‘Lihou Island’ and tales of a great Sea Captain who sailed with Nelson and had places named after him around the world.
Papa Lihou was an ex Navy stoker who had access to a small steam launch in St Peter Port and when he took the family outside the harbour to welcome the visiting Royal Yacht Britannia one choppy evening, Peter’s life-long passion for the sea and boats was permanently forged. Perhaps it was there all the time in his genes.
England was a place of country villages, steam trains, bicycles and the occasional black car. Guernsey was a paradise island drenched in permanent sunshine, or so it seemed, with tomato and flower growing the main industries alongside tourism. He learned to swim in Fermain Bay, played in the cave and devoured fruit cocktails and crisps outside the tavern with his sister whilst the grown-ups supped and talked. They did that a lot in those days, talking that is.
So when Dad announced the family was uprooting from Lincolnshire and moving south to the ancestral home, you would imagine nothing could have been finer. But in the early teens social networks of great importance already exist and the fear of actually being uprooted and placed amongst a new ‘tribe’ was real.
The early 1960s and teenage added to the soup of influences that poured into the growing youth. School life was never the challenge that his sister engaged in or that his father vigorously encouraged and when leaving Les Beaucamps Secondary at 16 with few qualifications, real life should have hit home. But it didn’t, it was after all 1966!
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones gave way to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead and before long Peter was back in mainland England. Alone in London with less than a ‘tenner’ in his pocket, no job and nowhere to stay still failed to bring ‘real life’ home and Peter set about creating a new social network. Aldous Huxley and Herman Hesse fed a growing desire for self-awareness and live performances from the likes of Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Santana nurtured his love of music.
It was in London that Peter met his wife to be, Gill, and a few months later the two moved back to Guernsey where they stayed for several years. During this time Peter worked in a variety of roles one of which involved descending wells to repair pumps and climbing above the tomato plants to repair the automatic windows in the huge glasshouses. He eventually joined the family business and began the suit wearing career that has sustained him and his family, which now includes four children, ever since. However, the family once again left the island in the 1980s and set up roots in the English Cotswolds. Whilst the village and surrounding countryside was as pretty as a picture, Peter found himself miles from the clear sea on which he loved to sail. His work also demanded that he travel for several hours every day to commute to ‘head office’. These tensions grew until shortly after the millennium something happened which brought his life into focus. Peter was diagnosed with bowel cancer almost exactly a year after it claimed his father’s life. The initial investigations also suggested a possible liver tumour and for a while the prognosis might have been bleak.
‘Going under’ there was no certainty about the outcome of his operation but the skill of his surgeon saved the day and he made a full recovery. It was during his recovery that Gill and he talked again about where they should be living and Peter first decided to write.
Several years have passed since then and the ‘Lihou’s’ have since moved back to Guernsey and then left again for Cornwall, where they now live amidst moorland, countryside and (of course) the sea. Peter’s debut novel, ‘Rachel’s Shoe’ was published in December 2008, followed a sequel ‘The Causeway’. He also started a unique writing collaboration project involving authors from around the world that culminated in the five hundred page novel ‘Passage to Redemption’. He is currently working on his latest book which is scheduled for release at the end of 2011.
At the end of 2010, Peter founded the publishing company Acclaimed Books Limited as a ‘not for profit’ organisation set up to help talented emerging authors find an audience and overcome the many obstacles that beset the modern publishing industry.
Writing and publishing are now as important a part of his life as his passion for sailing.