Recovery Days – An Interview with The Author

The author considers that a book of this kind is best appreciated when not complicated by the writer's own personality and therefore wishes to remain anonymous.

Recovery Days is quite a spiritual book – what is your background?

I grew up in a middle-class family in Yorkshire during the war World War Two and later trained to be a chartered accountant in London. I did not enjoy being an accountant because I had never passed a maths exam and I’ve always found numbers, unlike words, extremely daunting. Besides, when you are drunk as I often was, working with numbers becomes especially challenging. That’s probably why I was so unhappy. It didn’t explain why the drink took hold of me, but it certainly gave me an excuse for diving in headfirst. I married in 1966 and I was already drinking alcoholically then, although we had a loving marriage for many years.

My alcoholism eventually damaged things too much and for some years, I lived separately from my wife and children, though we saw each other regularly and latterly were reunited. I’m unhappy about this separation but, that is the past. The good thing about it was that I spent my time in Scotland working in a rehab which I helped to establish, putting my accountancy knowledge to good use at last. I later changed and became a therapist. I also during this time ran a small hotel in Peebles, Scotland.

When did you start writing?

From quite early on in my career I started writing articles for accountancy magazines on extremely boring subjects. Some of them were published. it is only in the last 10 years or so that I have been writing on a regular basis. I have written a great many articles on recovery from addiction and especially the aspect of creativity as a means of self-discovery and self-improvement. My first book was published in 2015 it’s called Poetry Changes Lives and it’s a daily book on the theme of what happened on this day, with a thought about that and a poem. I’ve published other books about recovery too.

Why did you write Recovery Days?

Dominic McCann, the CEO of Castle Crag told me that he was thinking of commissioning a book of daily reflections under the Castle Craig imprint. I offered to do the writing and he accepted. The book is the result of that. It took me six months to write and several more months to edit and I enjoyed the process enormously and learned a lot too.

What’s different about Recovery Days?

I’ve read a lot of daily meditation and daily reflections books, and some are wonderful, and some are very specialised and they’re all extremely well put-together. However, I did think that one or two of them were a bit old fashioned and I did think one or two of them were a bit too focused and dogmatic and, dare I say it a bit too serious. Of course, we are dealing with a very serious matter because addiction is a killer but that does not preclude the use of humour as a tool for recovery, in my view at any rate. I just thought that I would try and broaden the appeal of these kinds of books so that they might even help people who aren’t in recovery at all but simply struggling with everyday life. As we all know, that can be extremely complicated and stressful whether you are addicted or not.

recovery days header

Can you give an example of how you use humour in the book?

Well, I think some of the stories that I tell in the book, just as little vignettes, tend to have a bit of humour in them. For example, on a page about humility, I begin like this:
A healthy and happy husband came home one evening. ‘Today I’m ten years sober’ he announced, glowing with pride. ‘Isn’t that marvellous?’ His wife looked up at him. ‘So is the cat’, she said.
I just think that is a nice way of saying that some of us think we are more important than we really are, and we need humility to see reality. But I’m not sure that Richmond Walker, who wrote the famous 24 Hours a Day book in 1950 could have put something like that in his book because the stigma of addiction was so much greater then. He is incidentally one of my all-time heroes and I very much hope that if he was still alive, he would have given my book his blessing. Although he died in 1965, he set a very high standard for this type of book and also a very high standard of behaviour. He insisted on remaining anonymous despite having written and published such a powerful book.

Is there anything special about Recovery Days

Well, the book is designed to appeal to people of all kinds who are suffering from all types of addiction. Again, it is not intended just to be written for Christians. I mention Islam for example. I just hope that it will appeal to people who are running their lives in the best way they possibly can but who feel the need for a little bit of helpful input on a regular basis. That input is offered as support for personal development, rather than as a set of instructions.

recovery days header

What do you think people are looking for when they buy a book of this type?

I think people are looking for several things: something to think about – a bit of inspiration – a reminder of who they are – a reminder that they are not alone – and the feeling that, little by little they are on a path of spiritual growth and self-improvement generally. That’s quite a lot to get from a single page a day, but serendipity is a wondrous thing.

Any final thoughts?

Just that sobriety is such a life-changer. But at first, I saw it as an unbearable burden. How wrong I was. It’s the most wonderful of moments. If a drunken accountant can end up writing a book of daily reflections, then anything is possible. Seize every opportunity you are given.

Discover a New Dawn in Recovery – Every Day
Recovery Days: Embrace each day with renewed hope and insights that resonate with the times, transcending all addictions and beliefs. Dive into meditations inspired by timeless principles and contemporary culture alike. Step into a life where recovery isn’t just about abstaining, but truly thriving.
Embark on Your Journey – Start Reading “Recovery Days” Today

How Recovery Days Was Produced

‘Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book’. Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) author of ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’.

My journey from accountant number cruncher to wordsmith author may not have been as dramatic as my journey from drunk to happily sober. But both were long and arduous, and both ended up, giving me great pleasure and unexpected rewards, and both of course are interconnected.
As a frustrated accountant I used to fantasise when drunk that I would one day write a great novel. But I never dreamt I would write a daily meditation book for recovering addicts. I’m no Marcus Aurelius (the Roman emperor who started the whole meditation book thing), I’m not the Dalai Lama either. Just a bog-standard Chartered Accountant turned therapist, with more affinity to spirits of the bottled kind than those found around the soul. Nevertheless, writing a daily meditation book is what I have done. Thirty-five years after my last drink, the drunken accountant embarked on a great literary endeavour, those famous opening words of historian Edward Gibbon never far from his mind.
How did the book happen? Well, it began in rehab in 1987, where I found a Higher Power (amongst many other things).
The need for spirituality was a difficult concept for me but I was advised to keep an open mind. That was easy – my mind was largely composed of wide, open spaces. I found the idea of a search for spirituality quite appealing – voyages of discovery are exciting, and I set out hopeful of finding good things. My began by looking at the big picture – how could such an awesome universe be a random event? Surely something so interconnected, governed by profoundly meaningful laws yet so full of joyful surprises, had to be the work of a Great Creator? Isaac Newton and a lot of other clever folk with foreign names like Pascal and Einstein appeared to think so too. This, I found comforting and reasonable – the idea of a power greater than myself, that could restore me to sanity – there was logic in the concept. Had I enough intrinsic power to run my own life successfully? As I took inventory of the morally and financially bankrupt cockroach I saw in the mirror, the answer was achingly plain – no way. I needed help and the more powerful that help was, the better it would work for me. Welcome to my world, Higher Power.
Secondly, I found long term recovery from addiction. Finding a Higher Power was a huge part of that, of course. Recovery for me meant re-connection – with my family and friends, with other sober people and with the world at large. I found in AA a sense of belonging that I had never truly experienced before. The support and kindness I received from many people, and the massive power of their example as they went about their daily lives in happy recovery, was a huge influence. Alone, I had been unable to achieve anything but together with these people, anything seemed possible.
Thirdly, I found myself. Or rather, I found my self-respect, a feeling of empowerment and a sense of purpose. I discovered not just peace of mind but new friends and new interests too. I understood what it meant to become ‘better than well’ as described in that famous passage in the AA Big Book – The Promises: ‘We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness…’
One of the new interests I developed was writing. I had always enjoyed reading and writing and had even written some pieces for boring accountancy magazines. Now, my writing became not just an enjoyable pastime but a therapeutic activity too. I saw how writing could help express deep feelings, how it gave insights into one’s character and how it could be a means of connection with others. I joined a local poetry group and a book club, and I began holding workshops on creative writing in the residential rehab where I worked. All these activities were intensely enjoyable and great for self- discovery and general education too. I also wrote workbooks on subjects like ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘relapse prevention’. After a few years my writing had become a whole new interest and a source of income too. I published a book and then another and started calling myself a ‘writer’. That felt nice.
I’m also a psychotherapist and as a form of therapy, writing – especially poetry writing – can be surprisingly effective. As a member of the US based National Association for Poetry Therapy, I know how much more widely it is used in that country and wish it was better understood in the UK. I realised the power of poetry therapy when in rehab myself. My therapist at that time saw the difficulty I had in expressing myself verbally and suggested I try writing a poem about what I was feeling, instead. My first poor effort, along the lines of:
Roses are red violets are blue
I wish I was not here with you….
was actually highly therapeutic in showing, as my therapist pointed out, how negative and unwilling to change I was. I learnt from it.
Working in creative writing sessions with others in rehab helps them discover new aspects of themselves – as one person put it:
Digging and blasting
For jewels in the quarry
Of who I am..
It gives them an interest and a new way of handling life’s problems, which is what recovery is about.
Another course participant wrote to me later:
‘Creative writing has helped me in so many ways – analysing problems and finding creative solutions, communicating these to colleagues, and guiding me to deal with day-to-day emotions that arise when one is doing a demanding job. And when I go home, it helps me relax and to see my day from a different viewpoint.’

When Castle Craig Hospital was considering producing a book of daily thoughts, I jumped at the opportunity. A little later, thinking of the three hundred and sixty-five pages to be filled, a few doubts crept in. I thought of Edward Gibbon again, embarking on his famous History, and I also thought of the admirable AA member, Richmond Walker who eighty years ago in 1942, had pencilled a reminder to himself inside his copy of the AA Big Book ‘Make book for morning quiet times – short passages for each day – on different phases of AA – Call it Twenty-Four Hours A Day’. From that scribbled note emerged the iconic Twenty-Four Hours A Day – the book that many consider the greatest meditation book of all time. I remembered Bill W too, writing in upstate New York at his desk scarred by cigarette burns – books, articles, letters by the score. I was indeed ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ as Isaac Newton had put it. It was a reassuring but also an inspiring way to begin.

Recovery Days – A new book of daily thoughts for living in recovery from addiction of any kind.

Castle Craig Hospital has published Recovery Days, a new book of daily thoughts for living in recovery.

The author of Recovery Days explains why he wrote it and the message he wanted to pass on.

RD cov jpeg

To order a copy of Recovery Days CLICK HERE

It is appropriate that writing Recovery Days started in 2021 during the Covid 19 pandemic, since addiction is also a pandemic. However, I hope it will appeal to people who are not addicted as well.

The first Twelve Step meditation book – Twenty-four Hours a Day – was published by the Hazelden Foundation in 1954 (after AA General Service Office in New York felt unable to handle the commitment). Richmond Walker, the author had had the idea a long time. His copy of the AA Big Book, dated 1942, the year he sobered up, contains a written note to himself in the front:
‘Make book for morning quiet times – short passages for each day – use different phases of AA. – Call it “Twenty-Four Hours a Day”. He never profited from the millions of copies of his book that were sold, nor did he allow his name to appear as author. His intentions are just as valid now as they were then:
“We live one day at a time, twenty-four hours a day. On awakening, we think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day, but before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking. We ask for strength to live that day with patience, tolerance, kindliness and love. We ask for direction to do the right thing no matter what the personal consequences.” (R. Walker, Selected Writings)

For me, Richmond Walker’s book is beyond criticism. It is, as Ben Jonson said of Shakespeare: “Not of an age, but for all time”. But, that does not mean there should not be alternatives.

Twenty-four Hours a Day is aimed specifically at alcoholics, it has a profoundly Christian ethic (although the words ‘Christ’ and ‘Jesus’ are never mentioned), and is written in the style of the 1950’s. I wanted a wider appeal.

recovery days header

I have tried to make Recovery Days relevant to people suffering from addiction of any kind – narcotics, gambling and overeating for example, are all mentioned. I was also well aware of the ecumenical trends of the twenty-first century and tried to make the spiritual side appealing to people of all creeds, and agnostics too.

Anyone reading my book will notice that it contains a lot of contemporary references both literary and historic. Thus, the film Trainspotting, Groucho Marx, The Lord of the Rings and the Wizard of Oz are in there beside Marcus Aurelius, St Paul and Blaise Pascal. I feel that a book of reflections nowadays must be relevant to today’s culture as well as today’s problems.

The central theme of my book follows, I hope, that of Twenty-Four Hours a Day, with straightforward and uncompromising recovery principles at the fore. But I also wanted the content to be about the opportunities that await you in recovery. I find the idea that through redemption and renewal we become ‘better than well’ very attractive. Recovery is there to be enjoyed otherwise, what’s the point?

Lastly, I believe meditation books are the better when an author is not named, as the meditation experience needs to be personal to the reader alone, and as simple as possible. The Dalai Lama, who has written a book of daily meditations, might disagree. But much as I profoundly respect His Holiness, I am not he. But I feel honoured to have been asked to write this book.
Chris B

To order a copy of Recovery Days CLICK HERE