INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF "THE DEVIL'S LEGACY" TOM JACKSON Hello Tom! It is so wonderful to have this opportunity to interview you. Tell us about your current novel "The Devil's Legacy" what was the inspiration behind it?
Thanks Kitty, I would first like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate on your blog today and talk about my debut novel, ‘The Devil’s Legacy’. I’m very happy to join you all here at ‘Great Minds Think Aloud’.
‘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!
A number of 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! You list your genres as mystery, thriller, and historical fiction. Do you have any plans to write outside of those genres and dabble in others in the near future?
I am currently thinking about another mystery – a sequel to ‘The Devil’s Legacy’, which I hope to complete by early next year.
However I also have an idea for a trilogy set in nineteenth century Greece. I’m not sure yet what category it would fall within. Historical fiction obviously, but it might be more of the literary fiction genre than a straight mystery, and is more of a medium-term project as it will require considerable research. Tell us a little about where you grew up, your childhood and your family.
I originate from Manchester - and yes I’m an avid ‘United’ supporter. One cold and wet (it’s always wet, and invariable cold, in Manchester) November day back in 1976 I was called down to London by my Head Office - I worked for a British Bank - and they offered me a 4-year posting to Greece. I weighed up the pros and cons, which took all of five seconds, accepted, and in late January 1977 found myself in warm, sunny, friendly, Greece.
I have a lot of Irish in me. I guess that can be said of many people who originate from the north-west of England as there were many immigrants from the ‘Emerald Isle’ in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One of the fondest recollections of my childhood was Christmas and the New Year when all our extended family would gather for the festivities at my grandparent’s house. After lunch we would all sing Irish songs until well into the evening.
Shortly after I arrived in Greece I met my future wife, within the year we were married and I decided to stay.
There are many reasons for my decision. Greece has so much to offer - close family relationships, friendship, a good place to raise a family, fabulous cuisine, and of course, as a Mancunian ‘the wonderful weather’! I think when you wake up in the morning and actually see the sun and feel its warmth on your skin it makes you feel better, physically and psychologically.
Additionally, as a banker, I became deeply involved with Greek shipping and quickly grew to enjoy my close association with people in the industry. Who are some of your inspirations, authors or otherwise that have helped you with your creativity?
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. Are there any achievements in your life you'd like to discuss or talk about that have been paramount in your decision to become a writer?
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.
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. With retirement came the resurrection of the deep-rooted desire and ambition to write.
Creativity whether it is in the areas of art, or music, or writing, is perhaps the greatest gift of mankind. I think that’s what writing is all about: ‘to create something that gives pleasure to others’. Do you allow friends or family to critique your writing before publication?
Yes. And it is not only valuable, but essential. As a writer I think you can get too close to your work, and although you will always see the positives, you can be blind to the negatives of your creation. Everyone needs objectivity. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time when not writing?
I like to unwind – read a book, listen to music, watch a good film, or go for a walk, and swimming in the summer is a given. I maintain my close links to the Greek shipping community, post occasional articles on financial and shipping related matters, enjoy my new Kindle, have taken up gardening (I need the exercise) and have started to cultivate roses. Tell us about one of your most embarrassing moments.
There are too many!
But, I remember back in the 1980s when I was President of Round Table Greece and attended the Annual General Meeting of Round Table Germany in the small town of Brake. I had been in England on business and flew directly to the event. British Airways lost one of my suitcases en route! I was picked up by a Round Tabler in Hamburg and driven to the welcoming party on a small island – along with about 3,000 other guests. By three in the morning he had disappeared with my other piece of luggage, and I had no details for my hotel. I was put on a bus to a pension in the middle of nowhere, arrived there, it was deserted, and slept – or didn’t – in a wooden chair.
After breakfast, I headed off to the AGM, where I was informed that I would be giving a speech and presentation at noon! This was the first I had heard of it!
Anyway, somehow, despite my lack of preparation, sleep (for two nights), fresh clothes and a shower, I gave my speech which apparently was broadcast live on German TV! All I can say is; thank heavens most Germans do not understand English!
P.S. Both my suitcases turned up later in the afternoon. But that’s another story! Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other authors, or in general that you think would be beneficial to our readers? Also we'd love you to share your links and let us know where we can find out more about you.
Research in depth before you start. Work hard. Dedication to your project. Re-write, re-write, and re-write. Stay positive. Don’t despair. Rejection is not failure . . . it merely tests your own resolve to succeed. Where you can find me: Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/99678 Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/sho...400.Tom_Jackson Goodreads book page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...-devil-s-legacy Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Le...25060164&sr=1-1 Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the...kson/1107395591 Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/@/100002140539429 The Devil’s Legacy Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/@/152698424831830 Blog: http://bookblogs.ning.com/profile/TomJackson Thank you again Tom for this wonderful interview. We hope to do this again in the near future!