Leighton author’s story of ‘sex, murder and revolution’ heads to the USA

John: 'I got to know the characters in my head and then wrote a couple of pages for each of their parents, so they already had a background.'
John: 'I got to know the characters in my head and then wrote a couple of pages for each of their parents, so they already had a background.'

A Leighton Buzzard author is celebrating an exciting request from an American publisher, as his gripping tale of sex, murder and revolution is set to hit the US market.

John Newton, 82, of Taylor’s Ride, received an “out of the blue” request from Brick Mantel Books to see and publish his first novel, White Sunrise, for an American audience.

First published in 2004, the story takes readers on a turbulent journey through East Africa and Europe during the early 20th century, a period of history which the author spent many years researching.

John said: “The story follows two families, one British and one German and takes place in East Africa and Europe between 1902 and 1922.

“Adam Early, a young railway engineer, rescues a party of Germans; a young woman and two men, dying in the East African Bush and returns them to German Colonial territory. This leads him into a world of sex, murder, adultery, war, revolution and betrayal!”

The inspiration for the story came from John’s own experience in Tanzania, working for the RAF as a direction finder in air traffic control.

The budding author came across a small military cemetery outside an old fort in the town of Tabora, where he saw gravestones showing names of German and Belgian officers and soldiers killed in World War One (when Tanzania was part of the pre 1918 German Colonial Empire); the Belgians had taken the town from the Germans in a fierce battle.

John said: “Although aged only 18, I thought, ‘Hah. That can be part of my first book,’ and started to study this relatively unknown Colonial War.”

Not only is White Sunrise a tale of what John describes as “dead history” - unknown to many - but its strong female characters are a story of survival during a masculine world. John first formed his characters in his head, weaving them easily into actual historical events.

John explained: “Brick Mantel Books heard of White Sunrise through my American authoress friend who asked me to write a review of her latest book - an introduction can make all the difference.

“All writers and authors should never lose hope.”


John was born in London and lived in East Africa from 1953-73.

He became regional director for Schweppes in East and West Africa, Arabia and India and has moved countries 14 times. John arrived in Leighton Buzzard in 1976, building up The Newton Group, who supplied food to supermarkets. Readers may know John from The Writing Room. He also enjoys radio broadcasting.