Back in the late 1960s, I worked for a year as a reporter on an English regional evening newspaper called the Leicester Mercury and its weekly affiliate, the Loughborough Monitor.
More than 20 years later, long after I’d switched from writing (insert tongue firmly in cheek) fact to writing fiction, my ninth novel The Proprietor’s Daughter was published in both the USA and the UK, followed by the customary reviews. One review in particular caught my eye. It was from . . . the Leicester Mercury.
I didn’t recognize the name of the reviewer, but he seemed to remember me. He mentioned that I’d joined the paper after working on a U. S. Army publication—the 4th Armored Division’s Rolling Review—that I’d been one of the few non-drinkers in the profession, that I’d been something of a practical joker, and that the accent I’d picked up during my years in the States had challenged the Mercury/Monitor telephone copytakers who were more accustomed to the tones of a Gordon Ramsey or an Inspector Lewis. Then the reviewer turned his attention to the characters in The Proprietors Daughter, accusing me—quite rightly, I have to admit—of basing some of them on the people I’d worked with in Leicester. The name of Sid Hall, the Eagle photographer, came from the Loughborough Monitor’s own Sid Hall, and my blunt-spoken, forthright news editor of the Eagle, Lawrie Stimkin, was unashamedly based on the blunt-spoken, forthright news editor of the Mercury, Lawrie Simpkin; no better model for a news editor could I have wished for.
What stymied the reviewer, however, was the inspiration for Katherine, the heroine of The Proprietor’s Daughter. He wrote that my ex-colleagues were still searching for the character on whom I’d based her. To put them out of their misery, I had to tell them she was based not on a Leicester girl but on a North-Carolina girl who had once captured my heart. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately, I don’t know—I never managed to capture hers in return!
Get your copy of The Proprietor’s Daughter HERE!