A writer who grew up in Watford published his first book in January and is already getting ready to publish his second.

The Captain’s Nephew, 55-year-old Philip K Allan’s debut novel, focuses on Alexander Clay in which, after a century of war, revolutions, and Imperial conquests, 1790s Europe is still embroiled in a battle for control of the sea and colonies.

A Sloop of War, to be published next month, is the second in the series. It follows Alexander Clay bring the battered Agrius together with her captured French prize into Barbados.

Despite a six book deal and his endeavour to make them appeal to everyone, he believe books have to compete for the attention of Netflix TV shows.

I spoke to him to find out more about his work…

Have you always been interested in writing from childhood or is it something you started later?

Only in the last few years. I made my career in the motor industry in various senior sales and marketing roles with Nissan, Renault and then VW. I have always been a keen reader, and liked the idea of writing, but didn’t do much about it. Then I took a career break a few years ago in order to spend a whole school summer holiday with my rapidly growing children. I also decided I would try my hand at some writing.

I love books, and like many passionate readers I have often wondered if I could create something worthwhile myself. When the children returned to school in the autumn, I went back to the day job. But I had a completed script on the shelf nagging at me. After a few weeks I decided to send the book out to some literary agents to see if it had any potential. I was quite prepared for it to be rejected because most first books are. I have been told that the industry only accept one in 300 scripts. Fortunately I am one of those.

Tell me about the book series?

As a child I loved works of naval fiction, like the Hornblower books of CS Forester and more recently Patrick O’Brian’s work. I studied the 18th century navy at university and I have loved the period ever since. My series centres around a main character called Alexander Clay, who’s career we follow. He is a young naval lieutenant on Royal Navy frigate during the Napoleonic Wars at the end of the 18th century. My current contract with my publisher is for a minimum of six novels.

The first has been carefully edited to make sure they can be enjoyed by anyone, whether they know about the period or the sea, or not. Many of my earlier readers have never read a book like this before, and all have enjoyed the experience. The second is that I have a full cast of lower deck sailors who see the world of the ship very differently from the officers. Think of the books as a sort of Downton Abbey at sea, with the sailors as the below stairs characters.

What made you sit down and begin writing for the first time?

Desire to see if I could do it – like many people who love reading, I have always wanted to try. Once I knew that I could do it, I then wanted to make my story telling better. The heart of any good novel has to be an engaging story. This is particularly true today, when readers have so many other forms of entertainment available. My books have to compete for attention with the latest Netflix box set.

Where do you find inspiration?

Research, research and more research! I am always looking for ideas, characters and scenes that I can use. I normally have to tone them down a little, because fact is so often stranger than fiction. I also love the sea and sailing, which helps with getting the colour of the books right.

Do you have a process you follow when writing?

Writers broadly fall into two camps – those that work out every element of the book, and then sit down and bash out the book, and those who jump in and see where the story takes them. I am somewhere in the middle I always have the broad arc of the novel worked out, and sometimes write the end first, but much of the meat of the tale comes in the telling. Often while writing dialogue new plot lines will emerge when you least expect them.

How do you deal with writers block?

All writers have days when the story just doesn’t come. Sometimes I jump ahead in the story and write a different scene, or move to work on the scene I am in, but change the angle. For example in a battle scene, I might write it from the perspective of the other side for a while. Other times I simply sit down and make myself write by reminding myself that I can always delete it. After a few paragraphs it generally starts to flow.