The former magistrate
who journeys into space
WHEN he began writing
science fiction stories for
children, Walter Hughes, a
former Bilston magistrate,
reversed his name.
"I really didn't expect to get then
published and when I did I thought I'd
get my legg pulled by people who knew
me," he said at his home in Elm
Avenue, Bilston. "The publishers asked
me what name I wanted to use and I
could only think of turning my name
Now he is stuck with it. Young
people in many countries who eagerly
await his forthcoming books, know him
as Hugh Walters, author of 20 books
for the 11-to-16 age group. His latest,
The Dark Triangle (Faber and
Faber, £4.95), is based on the Ber-
muda Triangle in the Western
Atlantic, where ships and aircraft are
said to have disappeared without trace.
The story suggests a political cover-
by RAY SEATON
up. But when the British Prime
Minister and the United States Presi-
dent disappear, the mystery can no
longer be ignored.
The United Stations Exploration
Agency is called to investigate and the
scene is set for a series of strange
Mr Hughes, a company director, does
not accept that his stories are
fantasies. He prefers to think of them
as stories based on scientific facts. He
does a lot of research to get the detail
right, a lesson he learned after a spate
of letters from young readers correct-
ing him when he got wrong the
position of Venus in one of his stories.
"They are clued-up these days," he
said. "I make sure of getting factual
detail." He has visited Cape Canaveral
and Houston space stations.
He writes two books a year, keeping
to a regular routine of working for an
hour each morning, 7 am to 8 am,
before leaving for his office. "I'm at my
brightest then, but I write again in the
evenings if I feel like it."
Two years ago another publisher,
Abelard and Schuman, asked him to
write similar stories for the seven to 11
age group. Another, Scholar on the
Moon, is due out soon, bringing his
total to 23.
Current developments in space
travel provide a spur and a challenge.
"If I deal with Saturn in a future book I
shall have to take into account the
recent probe," he said.
His earlier books were straightfor-
ward space fiction. Now he has intro-
duced elements of detection to add to
the excitement of interplanetary
travel. At the age of 70, he is still
looking out for new ideas and bringing
himself up to date with the scientific
world for his brand of escapism.
Hughes: A lot
writes . . .