Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Robert Lyons, author of ‘The Shell Collector’, has kindly written a Guest Post to share with you. Read on to discover more about this author, what his story means to him and more about ‘The Shell Collector’……
Born in Leeds and educated at Rugby School and Oxford University, Robert Lyons spent seventeen years working for retailing conglomerate UDS Group plc., starting as a door-to door credit salesman in Glasgow before rising to run the parent company’s property management and development operations at its London head office. In 1974, he spent three months at the Harvard Business School on its Program for Management Development. On returning to London, he was appointed to the Group board, and to the board of Allders Department Stores, of which he became chairman in 1979. In 1983 the UDS Group was taken over by Hanson Trust plc, and Lyons left corporate life behind to move into property investment. Married with two children and six grandchildren, Lyons has lived in Highgate, north London, since 1968..
Writing The Shell Collector has been an integral part of my life for the past 25 years, albeit with long gaps. Completing it in the difficult circumstances of my wife’s ill-health was a dream come true. Publishing it means that readers can join in my dream, for it will only be worthwhile if shared and enjoyed by others.
I first wanted to write a novel a few years after I left public company life in 1984. I knew my first attempt was a flop the moment I took a chapter to Derek Jacobi in his dressing room at the Theatre Royal and I watched his face as he politely read it: no deadpan could be more expressive. Without regret, I binned it.
For my next attempt I left my own experiences aside and went in search of a story. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was aware of a financial scandal that had taken place in the City of London in the early 1970s. As a company director I had known of the provisions of the 1980 Companies Act against insider dealing. I did not know why the law had been changed, but the new law seemed to be an improvement on the old. I discovered later that issues arising from a company takeover by a person I had known socially had been behind the changes. The matter had apparently been the subject of a public investigation and a report had been published. I had been too busy building my career to have noticed.
Some years later I asked someone who had been involved in the affair where I could find 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 involved. Curiosity got the better of me, and I took steps to obtain a copy. As I read it, I could see why he had not wanted me to. The more I read, the more saw that this was the story I had been looking for. I realised there was no way I could report it as fact, as no one involved would be prepared to talk to me about his role in it. However, the story as it stood made brilliant fiction: as the saying goes, “You couldn’t make it up!” So I did. I loved imagining how the various events described in the report might have taken place, and setting them down.
I completed the first draft of my book back in the 1990s, but then became more deeply involved in other matters. I took it out from time to time, unsure of how good it was, and fiddled with it. For entirely private reasons I then set it aside for more than ten years. Last year my wife and I entertained a published American author who teaches creative writing. For some reason I mentioned my book to her. She asked to see a copy. I sent one to her by email, and she replied a week later telling me I must have it published. So I found an editor, spat and polished it under his guidance, and finally consigned it to my publisher. A few months later and here I am, possibly the oldest debutant novelist in the world, but far better that than to be published posthumously.
Above all, I have wanted to tell a good story well. That the story is a good one, I do not doubt; whether I have told it well, I cannot judge. Only my readers can do that. I say no more than that I have done my best to inform and to entertain.
Title: The Shell Collector
Author: Robert Lyons
Release Date: 26th September 2019
Genre: Literary Fiction
Page Count: 340
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48196036-the-shell-collector
1973: the year of the oil crisis, the secondary banking collapse, the three day working week and the collapse of the stock market. In a riotous ride through the City of London we meet the characters and events that filled the social and City pages of the press in that roller-coaster year.
Guy Magnus, an ambitious young share dealer, makes a daring takeover bid in the face of opposition from the City Establishment. Will he follow their rules, or his own: never to fall in love with a deal? Will he come to repent his challenge to the powers-that-be? Is Guy’s story fiction or fact? Was a Norfolk Broads canal boat really moored in the marina of Monte Carlo? Did a Henry Moore sculpture really become the most expensive work of art in the world? And did a bet for a lunch at Maxim’s for the first to make a million, Guy or his friend and rival Harry Griffin, bring a merchant bank to the verge of collapse?
THE SHELL COLLECTOR tells a cautionary tale of the City when its buccaneering spirit was at a peak. Whether true or false, it is never less than entertaining.
Monday 23rd September
Tuesday 24th September
Wednesday 25th September
Thursday 26th September
Friday 27th September
Saturday 28th September
Monday 30th September
Tuesday 1st October
Wednesday 2nd October
Thursday 3rd October
Friday 4th October
Many thanks to Robert Lyons for his Guest Post and to both Faye Rogers and Authoright for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.