Working in publishing since 1997, setting up a trade publisher in non-fiction, fiction, travel & guide books and children’s books.
Chris was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. Two days before his eighth birthday, on 11 November 1965, the country’s prime minister, Ian Smith, unilaterally declared independence from Britain (UDI), only the second British colony to do so, the United States being the first. Any similarity ended there as Rhodesia was plunged into fifteen years of civil war. At the same time the country was wracked by UN sanctions, ensuring that young Christopher was immediately deprived of his Shreddies, Smarties, Marmite, 'Beano', 'Beezer', Britain’s toy soldiers, Airfix models, Meccano and Lego. The boy was educated at St. John’s Preparatory School and Peterhouse, both, unusually for the times, multiracial schools. Excluded from writing his A’ levels at Peterhouse, he did four at Commercial Careers College in Salisbury where long hair, tatty denims and smoking were de rigeur.
Cocks served in 3 Commando, Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) from January 1976 to February 1979, at the peak of the Rhodesian bush war. Principally in the Fire Force role as an NCO stick leader, he saw continuous action against the deluge of Mugabe’s ZANLA and Nkomo’s ZIPRA guerrillas, Red Chinese and Soviet proxies respectively. Airmobile in ageing Alouette III helicopters and airborne in World War II-vintage C-47 ‘Dakotas’, Cocks amassed over 20 combat jumps in-country as well as on cross-border raids into Zambia and Mozambique. From March 1979 to Zimbabwean independence in April 1980, Cocks, having left the RLI for the paramilitary PATU, the Police Anti-Terrorist Unit, was yet again involved in the war, this time on the country’s southeastern border with Mozambique, and this time with no air support, with part-time civilian troops and generally outnumbered a dozen-fold. In his 50 months of service he considers that his finest achievement was not losing a man in combat.
Chris wrote his first book, 'Fireforce', a military autobiography, when he was twenty-nine. As a freelance journalist, he was the sports reporter for the 'Northern News' in Harare, and a travel writer for the Australian 'African Safari' Magazine and the Johannesburg 'Star' newspaper. He wrote for Denis Beckett’s 'Frontline', a South African political magazine, in the mid-1990s, with his own column ‘Larfstarl’ (Seffrican English for Lifestyle). He has since published a further memoir, a novel (under the nom de plume Michael Lamond) and has co-authored and contributed to several regimental histories. He is a closet poet, but only writes poetry that scans and rhymes. He has also written a clutch of songs—poetry with a tune.
Chris stumbled into publishing in 1997 and set up Covos Day Books in Johannesburg, a broad-based trade publisher in non-fiction (history, military, memoirs), fiction, travel & guide books and children’s books. The company closed down in 2003 as a result of its main creditor going into liquidation, but not before it won, ironically, the Against all Odds publishers’ association Whitaker’s award that same year. In 2004/05 he was the production editor for Jacana Media, and, in 2006, he established 30° South Publishers together with Pinetown Printers out of Durban. He left the company in 2015 to move to UK, where he worked for Amberley Publishing for eighteen months, managing the company’s local history list of some 200 titles a year. Since late 2016, Chris has been on his own. He is a commissioning editor for Pen & Sword, producing two dozen titles a year in their Cold War and History of Terror series. He also does editorial work for Casemate Publishers in Oxford, and is looking forward to writing more of his own books.