Guest post by Robert Lyons: author of “The Shell Collector”.
How did I research for my book?
I decided on the subject of my book when I read the report of an official investigation into a financial cause célèbre that had scandalised the City of London in the 1970s. I had not been conscious of the affair at the time, even though I had known some of the people involved in it socially. Twenty years on I was reminded of it and was curious to know more. I asked someone who had been close to the affair if he knew where I could get a copy of the report. He told me it wasn’t worth bothering with, and anyway no criticism had been made of any of the parties concerned. His reply only served to increase my curiosity. Eventually I managed to lay hands on a photocopy of the report. As read it, I realised why he had not wanted me to do so. I saw instantly that the story it set out would make a great novel. So the report, all five hundred pages of it, became the primary source of my book.
As the report was organised by topic rather than by chronology, I had spend a good deal of time compiling a diary of events. This helped enormously in understanding what had taken place. Once I had done so, I spent many days in the basement of the London Library trawling through back issues of The Times to set the contemporary background. Interestingly, the period for my researches coincided partly with the period when Rupert Murdoch closed down The Times before he made the move to Wapping, so the Library had substituted The Daily Telegraph in its archive. I also spent several hours at the Private Eye offices, going through its In the City “Slicker” columns of the time for background and specific information. These researches brought back fond memories of the post-Lady Chatterley era, such as the jailing of the Oz editors for obscenity, the Burton-Taylor £1,000,000 diamond, “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. I hope my book is the richer for their inclusion.
I could not, and had no desire to, write the story as reported history. As with many works of fiction there is a fine line between what is firmly rooted in fact and what is imaginary. So while some of the events may have happened in reality, others are the figment of my overactive imagination; and while some characters may bring real people to mind, others are purely fictitious. I tried to imagine what might have taken place, using the information contained in the report and what I discovered from further research. During my time as a director of a major public company I had met a number of well-known names from the world of business, and my recollections helped me to create some of the characters in my book. I managed to make contact with one of the people who had been closely involved in the affair, and who was almost alone in having nothing to hide of his role in it. He described one or two of the more amusing incidents and helped me to picture some of the participants, both physically and in character.
A story is a story is a story, and I hope mine is one worth reading. To succeed in flavouring a story with the fruit of genuine research can make it more special and more fun, perhaps even more for the writer than for the reader. I hope my researches have helped me not only to tell a tale, but also to bring it to life.
Information about the Book
Title:The Shell Collector
Release Date:26thSeptember 2019
Publisher:Clink Street Publishing