Sunday, 15 January 2012

Guest Post: "What Inspired Me To Write My Book?" by Tom Jackson

I am honored to have Tom Jackson, author of The Devil's Legacy, today for an interesting guest post.  For quite some time, I am very interested to know the research behind "The Devil's Legacy".

About the book - The Devil's Legacy

The opening of Pandora’s Box creates pandemonium in the office of the British Prime Minister. A team is assembled to solve a two hundred year old conspiracy in order to prevent the Box’s incredible secrets from being revealed to the world and plunging British society into chaos. Will the search for truth be successful? And will it result in the restoration of a country’s stolen heritage?

What is the bizarre umbilical cord that links the 200-year old theft of the Parthenon Marbles to the Turkish Governor of Athens, Jack the Ripper, Winston Churchill, the Titanic, Napoleon Bonaparte, the British Royal family, an obscure nineteenth century Italian artist and a Koala bear?

The British government’s decision to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece triggers the opening of Pandora’s Box, covertly held for over 100 years in the vaults of the British Museum. And thus the first appalling secret is revealed--the Parthenon Marbles are counterfeit.

A team comprising archaeological experts and secret service agents is assembled under the leadership of Natalie Sinclair, a young female lawyer and Parthenon expert. The team’s mission is to find the real Marbles and ensure their return to Greece within a six-month deadline.

Success must be achieved against an intensifying background of treason, competition from an American billionaire collector, and the intervention of the Greek mafia.

Failure would threaten the very fabric of British society.

The clock is ticking!

Well, you want to know more about the book? 

And so without further ado, over to Tom Jackson!

What Inspired Me To Write My Book?

I would first like to thank my host Vidya for giving me the opportunity to participate on her blog today and talk about my debut novel, ‘The Devil’s Legacy’. I’m very happy to join you all here at ‘Books Are Magic’.

First, what inspired me to write?

Well I think I have always wanted to create . . . to share my thoughts, even as a child I took pleasure in writing - my first attempt at a short story was around the age of ten. I believe that my desire to write stems from reading. Every Monday I would visit the local lending library and stock up with five or six books to keep me going for the week. My preference is undoubtedly for the cocktail of adventure/mystery/crime. For example, I enjoy Agatha Christie, Alistair McLean, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth and Ken Follett. Although I do have a decided passion for historical novelists such as Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favourite novel), C.S. Forester, John Buchan, and naturally, Dickens.

I vividly remember a high school essay contest I won back in the autumn of 1963 the plot of which surrounded the assassinations of the American President, John F Kennedy, and the Russian Premier, Khrushchev. Within two months JFK was dead, and I was in a state of some shock. Spooky! It took me some time to get over the experience.

Anyway, for far too long, serious writing was not an option - work got in the way. What changed was early retirement. I was with a British Bank, initially in my home city of Manchester, and then here in Greece. With retirement came the resurrection of the deep-rooted desire and ambition to write.

Secondly, what about ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ itself?

Many years ago I attended a conference here in Athens on the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. The keynote speaker at the event was the late Jules Dassin (the film director and husband of Melina Mercouri). I must admit that my initial attendance at the conference was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Like the vast majority of British nationals I had little knowledge of the exact sequence of events leading up to the Parthenon Marbles being owned by Britain, and housed in the British Museum. For me they were merely another collection of antiquities we had acquired a couple of centuries ago. We owned them! Why should we just hand them back? What was the big deal?

However, the conference stimulated my curiosity, and I became interested in the actual events surrounding the removal of the Marbles by Lord Elgin’s agents. This led me to undertake research here in Athens and in the UK - including a visit to the archives of the British Museum.

This research in turn led me to the undoubted conclusion that the Marbles had been removed illegally, without any proper authority. In fact, the man actually responsible for the removal, Philip Hunt, admitted quite openly at the time that he was able to remove the Marbles only through a combination of ‘cajolery, threats and bribery’! The bottom line is that I felt, as an Englishman, I must do something to rectify the errors of our ancestors.

Thus, my research gave me the germ of an idea for a work of fiction with the removal of the Parthenon Marbles as the underlying theme - and ‘The Devil's Legacy’ was born.

There have been many publications of a purely academic nature regarding the removal of the Marbles, however, I am not aware of anything fictionalising the event - and thus felt that my novel may well offer a uniquely interesting and thought-provoking perspective. As well as a good and fun read!

One final point. I had already chosen the name of Natalie Sinclair for the main protagonist before embarking on my research in London into certain historical elements in my novel. In ‘The Devil's Legacy’ part of her backstory is that her great-grandfather had been a minor minister in Churchill’s government, and a Trustee of the British Museum. During my research I discovered that there actually was a ‘Sinclair’ who had been a minor minister in Churchill’s government, and also a Trustee of the British Museum. Again, a bit spooky!

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