After nearly half a century of newspaper reporting and handling PR for Cornish businesses, Mike Truscott has turned his hand to fiction with publication of his first novel.

Mike, who retired three-years-ago but continued with a weekly Packet column until recently, got the idea for Lottery Loveboat during a cruise to Venice last year. He set about writing it as soon as he returned to his Falmouth home.

The book, which is being sold wholly in aid of Cancer Research UK, features shy, bespectacled Harold Pettigrew. He has led a sheltered life, but then he wins a lottery fortune and finds himself on a luxury cruise with no fewer than six female companions.

He’s nearly 40, never had a girlfriend and has been weighed down by an ultra-strict father and possessive mother, with his only escape until now being his job at the local public library.

The cruise might be a dream come true for many men, but for Harold it’s a nightmare – he’s terrified.

Not only is he nervous of relations with the opposite sex, but he’s also fighting an uphill battle to keep his lottery win a secret – and consequently suspicious of his companions’ true motives.

Mike said: “After a career spent dealing with real people and exclusively concerned with facts, I’ve found it utterly fascinating to cross the writing ‘fence’ and experience the world of fiction.

“You start off with ideas for a story and the people in it, but it’s been amazing how it’s all gone on from there. It just seems as if the plot lines have developed by themselves and the characters have taken on lives and personalities of their own, without much help from me.

“It’s been a hugely enjoyable process and I’m already hard at work on my second novel.”

The icing on the cake first time round, says Mike, has been a great cover for Lottery Loveboat created by Truro artist and teacher Jeanni Grant-Nelson.

For as well as novel-writing, Mike’s other new interest in retirement is his art, with regular lessons from Jeanni - to the point where he is now selling his paintings, also for Cancer Research UK.

? Lottery Loveboat is now on sale – strictly limited edition, price £7.95 – only at the Cancer Research UK shop in Market Street, Falmouth (mail order: 01326 212905). All proceeds will go to the charity.