AUTHOR Windsor Chorlton – pen name Robert Lyndon – was driving cabs and selling goods on eBay while writing his book Hawk Quest.

When the 250,000-word book was sent out it started a bidding war between four publishers and the rights have been sold to nine countries.

Mr Chorlton of Beaminster took five years to write the bloody historical adventure set against the backdrop of the Norman Conquests.

It could well have been the book that never got written.

The 63-year-old author did already have five – not very successful – thrillers to his name and was so disillusioned he gave up writing.

He said: “Under my real name I have written five novels but none of them had a huge commercial success so basically I had to re-invent myself.”

But he has no idea why this book has been so successful compared to his previous attempts.

“If I knew the answer to that I would have written it before,” he said.

“I think partly it is because this is the book I have been waiting all my life to write without knowing. It touches on things that are of particular interest to me – the falconry, which I started when I was 13, the history and the travel in remote places.” The story is about a quest to free a Norman knight captured by a Turk.

In order to free him, a Frank warrior named Vallon must capture four rare hawks.

Mr Chorlton will be launching Hawk Quest at Waterstones in Bridport on January 12.

He worked for Time Life non fiction books in London and published his first novel in 1988. Mr Chorlton moved with his family to Beaminster in 1991.

He gave up writing altogether at one point after struggling to make an impact.

He drove a cab and a truck but also worked in a warehouse and sold items on eBay to make ends meet.

“Then one day I just found myself starting this book. I didn’t write it all in one go but over a period of more than five years. I knew it was going to be a very long book and thought that publishers wouldn’t be falling over themselves to buy a book by an author then in his mid 50s, by somebody who was not a star.

“I have an agent he and he put it out under a different name. Then four publishers bid for it.”

Their reaction both surprised and gratified him.

“My agent said he thought it was a very good book.

“His exact words were: ‘If we don’t sell this, console yourself with the thought that you’ll never write a better book.’”