How It All Began by Iain Maitland @IainMaitland @IsisAudio #GuestPost #MrToddsReckoning

Hello there,
Today I am thrilled to be a part of the Mr Todd’s Reckoning blog tour with a guest post from our writer in the spotlight, Iain Maitland. I am a newbie fan of Mr Maitland’s and I loved this book especially! I have loved reading all the reviews of the audiobook and thrilled that more people have been introduced to this author. Thanks Isis Audio for the opportunity to not only be a part of the tour, but also for allowing me to organise it.

I’ve been a full-time writer since 1987, producing articles, reports and books on business and finance and property; simple, how-to information and advice about heavy-duty stuff such as exchange rates and forward contracts and other things that baffle many people (me included).  

I’d always wanted to be a novelist but, like a lot of fellow writers, I got distracted by life and work and family. I then got into my early 50’s a few years ago and had worked myself into a financial position where I could write full-time. This was it – now or never.

I wrote a couple of memoirs first about my family and my eldest son Michael who experienced mental health issues when he went to university. With his blessing, I wrote Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder) and then, together with Michael, Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley Publishing).

I’m very proud of those books (and the way Michael has turned his life right round). They’re still with us and always will be. We have been working on stage and TV scripts and are doing the audiobook reading of Madhouse for Oakhill in the autumn. We are also, because of the books, ambassadors for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity, and talk about our experiences to students and parents.

I’ve never wanted, as a writer, to be put in a box and told to stay there – I’ve always wanted to have a go at everything. So, after the mental health books, I wrote a thriller – Sweet William (Contraband) – about a man who breaks out of a psychiatric unit to find his fostered toddler son, William, and to run away and start a new life together. The publisher put that in for Man Booker which was a good start for a debut novel.

And so I decided to write another thriller – Mr Todd’s Reckoning. I’d just been through a long and gruelling tax enquiry where I’d been picked at random by a tax inspector who needed to work through so many cases to be promoted. He gave me a thorough going over, asking questions about holiday spending five years earlier, following me by car when I was taking my children to school in Ipswich, and nit-picking away at bits and pieces for more than five months. He generated an extra £51.17 for HMRC.

He – a man with a low-income lifestyle but with significant power over others – became my Mr Todd. I then imagined what he would be like if he was made redundant and had all this importance and control taken away. Put him in a small, cramped bungalow. Add in a son who has mental health issues. Have a backdrop of a long, hot summer – the hottest summer ever – and let’s see where it goes.

When I was writing it, I was also working on a stage play of Dear Michael, Love Dad with the actor Michael Simkins. Mike is a lovely man but he does have a stern face at times. We were meeting for afternoon tea at a hotel on the Strand once and I arrived early and Mike came in a little later and his face was quite … steely … and I thought, ‘Ooh, you’re Mr Todd’. Roll on a few years and I am so delighted that Michael has narrated the audiobook and has done such a fantastic job.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning should have been a six-part TV series by now. I’d been working on a TV script of Dear Michael, Love Dad with the actor Paul Ritter. We used to lunch regularly in London and these would often last three or four hours. I gave Paul a copy of the Todd book to read on the train home. He loved it so much and was writing the TV scripts for AbbottVision when he passed away earlier this year.

There has been interest in bringing Todd to television but it’s still too soon. I’m sure that it will happen in due course. But for now, I am so thrilled that it’s out on audio from Oakhill and that it’s being read by the ‘original’ Mr Todd, Michael Simkins. Dim the lights, sit back, shut your eyes and be ready to be scared … to death.   

Categories Book review

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