And UK politicians.
Because both feature heavily in THE TITANIC DOCUMENT.
I lived through the Seventies and Eighties, hence I remember certain newsworthy events from that era pretty well. For example, I remember hearing how a prominent politician and leader of the Liberal Democrats had been sent to trial in 1979 on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder. Jeremy Thorpe’s fall from grace was more recently depicted on screen by Hugh Grant in a TV mini-series entitled “A Very English Scandal”. In 1979 we knew nothing of Thorpe’s sexual tastes.
Same era, same political party – and another “larger than life” character: Cyril Smith, MP for Rochdale. I remember being impressed with his blunt speaking, his sense of humour, and his ability to make fun of his size (over 400 pounds weight). A fellow northerner with a BIG personality – and a close friend of Jimmy Savile, who in turn got on very well with a certain Margaret Thatcher. Savile’s TV career was soaring throughout the Eighties. But as we were to learn later, so many of those close to him were turning a blind eye to his sexual perversions. It was a different world back then.
In recent years we have seen investigations into sexual abuse reported in the media, and the names of Savile and Smith achieved a different kind of fame. Their crimes against children in particular were horrific, and it was the freedom with which those men operated that encouraged me to create the character of Peter Gris for THE TITANIC DOCUMENT.
While not based on any individual, my fictitious politician begins the story in 1985 as Margaret Thatcher’s newly appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – immediately before the wreck of Titanic was discovered by Robert Ballard. That event in turn occurred only weeks before the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in November. Peter Gris would therefore have been actively concerned with a treaty intended to bring an end to “The Troubles” in the place of Titanic’s birth. Using my writer’s philosophy to ask the question “What if?”, I endowed this high-ranking politician with select characteristics from each of Thorpe, Smith and Savile. (He’s not a nice guy – but on the surface??)
So, now you know a little of the background to the key “villain” of the story. Far-fetched? I would say not. In fact, I’d challenge anyone to prove that such a powerfully-placed person could not exist in present-day political circles.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Next, I’ll share some personal details on what influenced me to write THE TITANIC DOCUMENT.
It’s a strange old world, isn’t it?
The headlines for 2020 have thus far been dominated by pandemics and politicians. But wherever news is reported in the world, there are tales of personal tragedy, or of remarkable human kindness and humility. We are a fragile race, but we are capable of far more than we realise.
Early in the twentieth century the world first learned of a tragic event involving the deaths of several hundred people. While there have been many more events since involving similar (or even greater) loss of life, there is something about the story of Titanic that is particularly enduring. It is a classic tale, producing individual stories of heroism, romance, greed and potential conspiracy – as well as an enduring enigma. It should never have happened but for a brush with nature. An iceberg proved more than a match for the skills of the men who built her, or who steered the great ship on that fateful April night in 1912.
They made a movie of the whole thing in 1958 – A Night to Remember. I watched it on television less than ten years later, an impressionable teenager shocked that this was not just an ‘action pic’ but a true story. Who would have thought then that I would one day write my own book inspired by that event, or that I might have discovered WHY it happened in the first place?
A strong claim to make? Possibly. Yes, I could be wrong. But I do know I’ve included a NEW theory on the sinking in my book THE TITANIC DOCUMENT. It suits the fictional elements within my story, but as a result of my research I can honestly claim to have presented an argument explaining the disaster that I have not yet seen published.
But you can judge soon for yourself. The manuscript is finished, edited and proofed. The publication process is under way. I just hope the journey I set out on nearly three years ago reaches its end without further incident. There’s been all manner of obstacles along the way, the waters have been choppy at times, but hey – what a voyage it has been!
I’ll tell you more later.
Need to know:
I don’t just write fiction.