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Former journalist’s first novel published at age of 80

A former regional press journalist has had his first book published at the age of 80.

James McKinty worked as a reporter at the now defunct Barry Herald and then as a sports sub-editor at the South Wales Echo and only took up writing fiction at the age of 63.

His novel Exchange of Blood tells the story of mistaken identity and follows a used car salesman and a Greek millionaire, whose lives become involved after a car accident.

James spent years writing short stories before embarking on his book, which his cousin arranged to be published for his 80th birthday.

He told the Barry and District News: “When I held the published book in my hand I was overjoyed. My cousin knew that my one remaining ambition in life was to get my book published, so she arranged it for me as an 80th birthday present.

“Since it came out I’ve reread it and been wholly entertained – and I knew what was going to happen!

“It’s a blood-and-guts novel, and it took me years to gel it all together. It was a big jump from writing short stories.”

The book’s action starts in Cardiff, then moves to Dusseldorf in Germany where James served for two years with the Military Police, and then ends in his home town of Barry.

And James’ story has already won praise years before it was published, when it finished as runner-up in 2004 for the Lichfield Prize, a competition for first novels which was judged by Dame Beryl Bainbridge and thriller writer Craig Thomas.

He is now planning to write his second book.

The book is available from