1. What is your name and where do you call home?
Hi Rachel, my name is Tom Jackson, and although I originate from cold and wet Manchester, England (and am proud to call myself a Mancunian), I have lived in hot and dry Athens, Greece with my wife and daughter for almost 35 years.
2. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
The Devil’s Legacy - a contemporary mystery with flashbacks to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries - is, in fact my first published book.
The decision to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece leads to the opening of Pandora’s Box and the unleashing of terrible secrets threatening the very fabric of British society.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel? Why do you feel so strongly about the return of the Parthenon Marbles?
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 considerable 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, 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.
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!
4. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I am considering an idea for a sequel. Also I am thinking about something a little different - a trilogy set in 19th century Greece.
5. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I took pleasure in writing from an early age. I think 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, C.S. Forester, John Buchan, and naturally, Dickens.
6. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
Indeed I do.
7. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
The focal point for the novel is the theft of the Parthenon Marbles over two hundred years ago, and the secrets surrounding the conspiracy are hidden in Pandora’s Box. So the Parthenon itself, and the Box on fire with elements from the story escaping like smoke seemed highly appropriate. The concept of the cover was the result of a family pow-wow - my wife is an artist. The great cover design was by Laura Shinn in the States.
8. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Each of the chapters is prefaced by a quotation from the works of the famous Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy, and I thought at first of using one of these as the title. However, the theme of ‘Legacy’ runs through the book on different levels, and whilst one of the characters in my novel is actually referred to several times as a ‘Devil’, again the Devil could have several connotations in the context of my novel.
9. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
I am something of a traditionalist. I like the feel of the paperback in my hands. However, I am developing a taste for ebooks, and now have a Kindle courtesy of my daughter and her husband. I think I am one of the believers - ebooks are definitely the future.
10. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
11. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
Too many times to recall. I think that every time you re-read a book it’s like visiting an old friend. You know what to expect, you will enjoy the experience, yet there is always something new to discover . . . appreciate . . . enjoy.
12. Have you ever read a book just based on it’s cover?
13. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
Funnily enough over Christmas I just wanted to put my feet up and relax with an old friend. So I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (for at least the hundredth time) and I’m just about to re-read ‘The Manchester Man’ by Mrs. Linnaeus Banks which is set in early 19th century Manchester. I do have the paperback version. Although it is a little known work of fiction (and some of the working-class dialect in the first chapter or so can be difficult to follow initially) it is worth the effort.
14. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Keep writing. Stay positive. Don’t despair. Rejection is not failure . . . it merely tests your own resolve.
15. Where can your readers follow you?
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5390400.Tom_Jackson
Goodreads book page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13222949-the-devil-s-legacy
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/@/152698424831830
The Devil’s Legacy Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/@/152698424831830
I have also just started a Blog
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!