Welcome to Day 28 of Non-Fiction November here on Always Trust In Books. I have another brilliant interview to share with you all today! Mick Dawson has achieved so much in his life and Rowing The Pacific celebrates and elaborates on his experience of sailing across the pacific. I had been looking forward to this Q&A for ages and it turned out really well. Mick opens up plenty about his time at sea and how it translates onto the page. I hope you all enjoy the interview too. First a few details about Mick and Rowing The Pacific, then on to the questions!
About Mick Dawson
MICK DAWSON is one of the most experienced and successful ocean rowers in the world. To date, he has spent over 440 days at sea in rowing boats, covering a distance of over 18,000 nautical miles. He is a former Royal Marines commando, who saw active service both in the Falklands War and the Middle East. His lifelong passion for the ocean continued after his time in the Royal Marines when he went on to become a professional sailor and ultimately record-breaking ocean rower. He is currently working with veterans on maritime projects to assist with their recovery from PTSD and combat injuries.
Book Synopsis for Rowing The Pacific: 7,000 Miles from Japan to San Francisco
The thrilling story of Mick Dawson’s most challenging rowing feats in the open ocean, culminating in his greatest achievement: rowing 7,000 miles across the North Pacific Ocean, from Japan to San Francisco.
Storms, fatigue, equipment failure, intense hunger, and lack of water are just a few of the challenges that ocean rower Mick Dawson endured whilst attempting to complete one of the World’s ‘Last Great Firsts’.
In this nail-biting true story of man versus nature, former Royal Marine commando Dawson, a Guinness World Record-holder for ocean-rowing and high-seas adventurer takes on the Atlantic and ultimately the North Pacific.
It took Dawson three attempts and a back-breaking voyage of over six months to finally cross the mighty North Pacific for the first time. Dawson and his rowing partner Chris Martin spent 189 days, 10 hours and 55 minutes rowing around the clock, facing the destruction of their small boat and near-certain death every mile of the way, before finally reaching the iconic span of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Dawson’s thrilling account of his epic adventure details how he and Chris propelled their fragile craft, stroke by stroke for thousands of miles across some of the most dangerous expanses of ocean, overcoming failure, personal tragedy and everything that nature could throw at him along the way.
Interview with Mick Dawson
Thank you Mick for taking the time to answer a few questions about your recent Non-Fiction release Rowing The Pacific. Could you tell us a few details about yourself and your work?
My pleasure. Thank you for asking me to take part. My name is Mick Dawson, I was born in Boston in Lincolnshire but now live with my wife Grace on the South Coast near Brighton. I’m a former Royal Marine, a professional speaker, sailor and as of August this year; a very shocked but enormously proud published Author.
Could you give us your own personal overview of Rowing The Pacific and what we should expect within?
‘Rowing the Pacific’ is I hope, a very personal and honest account of my quest to row the first rowboat across the mighty North Pacific Ocean, from Japan to San Francisco, finishing beneath the iconic span of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a story about the driving ambition to complete (I won’t say conquer) one of the worlds last great firsts, despite any number of seemingly unsurmountable setbacks along the way. It’s a lot more than a simple adventure story though as during the process of writing the book I wanted to explore my reasons for pursuing this seemingly impossible goal, the experiences and people in my life which had conspired to create this consuming passion that came to dominate it . I hope in doing so I’ve made the book more accessible to people from all walks of life, as the challenges and problems I dealt with, all be it in extreme circumstances, have relevance to everyone.
Rowing The Pacific is your phemonemal story! What made you want to lay it all out in a book?
I left school at 16 and joined the Royal Marines. I was an ok student but the only subject I excelled at in school was English. My English teacher said to me (and my parents), stay on don’t join the Marines, go to college then university and become a journalist. Being sixteen and the wisest of the wise, I replied, ‘How can I write about anything, when I haven’t done anything?’
All I’ve ever wanted to do, my ultimate ambition and a far greater one than rowing the Pacific Ocean, was to write a book and most importantly one worth reading. Now with ‘Rowing The Pacific’ I believe I’ve finally done that. But you guys of course will be the judge of that.
How long has it taken you to get Rowing The Pacific out for us to experience?
I began looking for a publisher immediately after my rescue from the Pacific on my solo voyage in 2004. That dramatic story which forms the start of Rowing The Pacific, I felt was worthy of going into print. Twelve years later, having finally completed the row successfully with Chris Martin (and also having completed a second Atlantic crossing), by chance I met a wonderful literary agent in America called Wendy Keller who believed in the story. She told me she would find a publisher within six months and that’s exactly what she did. I really cannot thank her enough.
I’d completely given up on finding a publisher at that stage and was looking to self-publish. I vividly remember one rejection email from a publisher that came with a note, ‘Exciting Story, well told and you have a great writing style… Shame you’re not a celebrity!’
From that point on although I never gave up hope completely I never really expected a publisher to take the book on board. I could work on everything else but I could never be a celebrity. So, to finally be published by Hachette, one of the most famous and biggest publishers in the world really hasn’t sunk in yet.
What is it you particularly love about dangerous feats of Rowing?
Danger isn’t really a factor, although obviously it is something you have to take into account and prepare for, as should anyone on any vessel that ventures onto the ocean. You’d be amazed how quickly, even on the ferocious North Pacific, life on a tiny rowing boat becomes routine. If I had one particular love it was simply having what I describe in the book as ‘The best seat at the best show in town.’ I simply never tired of looking at the surface of the ocean anticipating it’s infinite possibilities. Many of which I’m privileged to say, I have now had the honour of seeing. There has not been a single day since I last stepped off a rowing boat that I don’t miss being at sea on one.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning/writing Rowing The Pacific?
Finding a publisher was without doubt the biggest challenge, after that the process of writing was largely enjoyable and exciting, if a little daunting. I worked with a great American editor ‘Phil Revzin’ during the process who was great and really helped me. I think the book would have dwarfed War and Peace without Phils judicious suggestions and pruning……
How was it translating your experience onto the pages of this book?
Emotional. Writing everything was as close to reliving the events again as I could get. There are some very personal and powerful experiences described in the story so there was no escaping the emotions tied up with them.
When your not writing or rowing, what do you do to let off steam?
Oddly enough, at the moment I’m planning another row… Which is taking up a lot of my time and may come as a surprise to people as at the end of the book I say, there won’t be another row, nothing could top the North Pacific. I may have found a voyage which while not topping the North Pacific may at least belong up there with it. Early days though so can’t say what it is yet, but it will be a fantastic project if I can make it happen.
Outside of that, I love films, although increasingly not the cinema experience that goes with watching them these days. I love reading, naturally and have even more respect for authors now I have a greater knowledge of the difficulties of becoming one. I like a Guinness with good friends and love being down by the sea near where my wife Grace and I live on the South Coast. If I can’t be on the sea at the very least I need to be near it.
Have you got any other plans/projects coming up soon that we should know about?
Well besides the secret ‘New Row’ that I can’t say too much about yet. The main on going project is The Cockleshell Endeavour http://www.cockleshellendeavour.com This was a kayaking project I set up to help an old friend and fellow former Royal Marine; Steve Grenham who was struggling with the issues of PTSD. We both served together in the Falklands War, I touch on his story and the Cockleshell Endeavour project at the end of Rowing The Pacific in the epilogue. It became a two year kayaking project which saw Steve and me ultimately complete a nine day expedition circumnavigating the East Falklands, last March. It was a huge success and we’ve now linked with the Royal Marines Kayaking Association and the Royal Marines Charity to expand the kayaking adventures we took part in to help other recovering veterans.
We have eight Cockleshell Endeavour folding kayaks (two man) that we aim to provide to recovering veterans and their training partners for next years Devizes to Westminster Race. Hopefully year by year we’ll steadily expand the fleet and also the type of events and expeditions the guys take part in.
Have you read a book recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this blog?
TRIBE. By Sebastian Junger (Author of Perfect Storm)
Although at first glance a story about why veterans, particularly those returning from combat operations, struggle to reintegrate, it is in reality a mirror on what’s wrong with western society. Very powerful and inciteful book which I read in one sitting last year and I’m about to read again. It’s an important and excellent book.
Thanks again for answering my questions about Rowing The Pacific. It is undoubtedly an amazing feat of human endurance. Good luck with your next rowing adventure!
Thank you for stopping by to check out the interview with Mick. I couldn’t imaging sailing at all (fear of water) but to do what Mick did is truly amazing. I hope you all get a chance to pick up a copy of Rowing The Pacific to experience all the adrenaline fuelled adventures that Mick went through when he made it from Japan all the way to San Francisco. Thank you for supporting Non-Fiction November!