Guest Posts

The Legacy – Alison Knight

I am joined today by Alison Knight as part of the blog tour for her book, The Legacy. Many thanks to Alison for taking the time to talk to me, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape. 

London, 1969.

James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance – and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.

Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.

Resigned, James and his spoilt, pampered girlfriend, Fliss, Percy’s sister, travel across France on a mission that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn’t convinced he can trust Fliss, so he makes his own plans to start a new life.

Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte’s secrets turn the legacy into a curse?

PURCHASE LINKS:

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The Legacy Cover

GUEST POST – ADAPTING A STORY TO FIT A DIFFERENT AGE:

I think it was laziness on my part that led me to write contemporary fiction when I started my writing career. I thought it would mean I could get away with little or no research, although I soon learned you still need to get your facts right. But after having two contemporary novels published, I had a great idea for a time-travel story, where a twenty-first century girl falls through time to the Blitz in London. I had great fun, writing about how a girl who is used to having a mobile phone, lattes and hot showers copes with rationing, tin baths and bombing raids. I based a lot of what happened to her on stories of my own family at that time but also needed to do a lot of research.

Family stories are great inspiration

This led me to my fourth book, Mine, which is based on real events in my family in the late 1960s. Even though I was there at the time, I needed to supplement my childhood memories with some serious research, from reading court files to checking the names of players in the Millwall football team.

An expected gift

My new book, The Legacy, Is also set in the 1960s and follows the fortunes of James and Charlotte when they receive an unexpected legacy. This time, my research included the influence of organised crime on the gambling industry, train routes across Europe and house prices in Chelsea from 1967 to 1969.

Mind your language

It can be tricky, writing about a time within living memory. It’s easy to forget that words and phrases we use now didn’t mean the same thing then. For example, gay meant happy, and a cappuccino was a frothy coffee in the sixties.  It’s also important to remember that attitudes and opportunities are very different today.

It’s different now

I wonder how different my 1960s stories would be if I made them contemporary? I’m not sure I could translate them. What led to a tragedy and disaster in the 1960s has become every-day in the 2020s. Illegitimate children, extra marital affairs, gambling debts and same-sex relationships are still commonplace, yet the repercussions of these were very different just over fifty years ago.

Trolling, sixties-style

If I were to bring my characters from The Legacy forward in time to today, I think the tone of the book could be much darker. James is a spoilt, arrogant man who has lost one fortune and is relying on his aunt’s legacy to bail him out, only to find that she has left the inheritance to Charlotte instead. He has built up huge gambling debts in West End casinos, encouraged by his friends and the criminals who ran the casinos. There’s every chance he would have gambled away even more money in today’s world of online gaming and been labelled a gambling addict.

In dire need of money, James tries to discredit Charlotte so that he can claim the legacy. He succeeds in disrupting her life, but the effect is limited in an age before the internet. If the same were to happen today, James would probably be an online troll who could wreak havoc in Charlotte’s life and all of that vitriol would be available online forever.

Between a rock and a hard place

When James doesn’t succeed in getting the money from Charlotte, he is given an impossible choice by his creditors and he is pulled into a criminal scheme. As he travels through Europe he is able to evade capture thanks to the lack of computerized information. Today, he would be quickly tracked through his mobile phone, credit card payments, border crossings and even CCTV sightings.

Guarding her secrets

On the other hand, while Charlotte is a law-abiding soul, she is guarding secrets about people in her life. She needs to protect their reputations against society’s disapproval. Revealing them could have dire consequences. But if she were in the same situation in the 2020s, these so-called terrible secrets would make no difference at all and could not harm anyone. It would take away the drama of the story.

So, The Legacy is firmly entrenched in the 1960s, with all it’s flaws and joys because it just couldn’t be the same story if it happened today.

What’s next?

For my next book, I’m taking my readers to the US in the early 1970s, again before mobile phones, computers and microwaves. But I’ll be exploring the very modern theme of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which didn’t even have a name then. Maybe after that I’ll think about writing a story set in a post-Covid world, but let’s see what that looks like first, eh?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Legacy - april 2021 head shot Alison KnightAlison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

The Legacy is a drama set in 1960s London. Like her previous book, Mine, it explores themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, showing how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in this tour to read more about The Legacy.

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