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David Dyer

David Dyer grew up in a coastal town in NSW, Australia, and graduated as dux of his high school in 1984. After commencing a degree in medicine and surgery at the University of Sydney, he soon decided it was not for him.

David went on to train as a ship's officer at the Australian Maritime College, travelling Australia and the world in a wide range of merchant ships. He graduated from the college with distinction and was awarded a number of prizes, including the Company of Master Mariners Award for highest overall achievement in the course. He then returned to the University of Sydney to complete a combined degree in Arts and Law. David was awarded the Frank Albert Prize for first place in Music I, High Distinctions in all English courses and First Class Honours in Law. From the mid-1990s until early 2000s David worked as a litigation lawyer in Sydney, and then in London at a legal practice whose parent firm represented the Titanic's owners back in 1912. In 2002 David returned to Australia and obtained a Diploma in Education from the University of New England, and commenced teaching English at Kambala, a school for girls in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

David has had a life-long obsession with the Titanic and has become an expert on the subject. In 2009 he was awarded a Commonwealth Government scholarship to write The Midnight Watch as part of a Doctorate in Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney. The doctorate was conferred in November 2013. David's research for The Midnight Watch took him to many and varied places around the world including libraries and sites of interest in New York, Boston, London and Liverpool.

'I spent days reading Lord's papers in the archive of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the highlight of which was my finding of the original letters of the Californian's second officer and apprentice, written within days of the disaster, in which they describe the rocket-firing ship they saw. Tears came to my eyes as I held these flimsy letters in my white-gloved hands. 'I observed a white flash apparently on her deck,' writes the apprentice, 'followed by a faint streak towards the sky which then burst into white stars…'' These rockets were, of course, a desperate cry for help.

A note from the editor:
'Dyer's interest is in the way that the smallest of mistakes or uncertainties can lead to the greatest of catastrophes – each reader can imagine themselves on the bridge of the Californian. Part of reason Dyer's novel is so vivid is that he is a sailor himself – he trained at the Australian Maritime College, and has sailed on many merchant ships, often at night, without GPS, in almost exactly the situation of Herbert Stone and the crew of the Californian.'

David has long been fascinated by the Titanic disaster. As a child, he knew of the 'Californian incident' and accepted what he had read in a children's book about the disaster: that the Californian did not respond to the Titanic's rockets because she thought they were fireworks celebrations for well-to-do passengers. As he grew older, he became less satisfied with this explanation (fireworks celebrations? at 1am on a freezing Monday morning?) and began to seek a better answer. When he was working as a solicitor in London in the late 1990s he stumbled upon Leslie Reade's The Ship That Stood Still (1993) and from that moment onwards became obsessed with Lord's story, and thought that it would be a great subject for a novel. In subsequent years David visited libraries, archives and key sites in Liverpool, London, Boston, New York and – finally – the Titanic's wreck site in the mid-Atlantic.

In 2012, David participated in the Titanic centenary memorial cruise, traveling on the MS Balmoral from Southampton to the Titanic's wreck site, and then on to Halifax, New York, Martha's Vineyard and back to Southampton.

David is a keen musician and an avid reader. He has a special interest in aviation and shipping – in particular, aviation and shipping disasters. David also builds and collects models of ships and planes.

David is currently a teacher and writer, living part of his time in central Sydney and also in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. The Midnight Watch is David's first novel.

'This gripping novel sheds new light on a known event and probes with great subtlety the places in which historical fact has no business – the mysteries of the human heart. The Midnight Watch is historical fiction at its best.'

The Times of London

The Midnight Watch

By David Dyer

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