Writing And Its Research
Research is a key part of any writer’s life. Luckily for me, it’s something I enjoy doing. Research for The Summer Theatre by the Sea involved watching videos on how to surf, reading books about medicine and interior design, and frequent visits to Cornwall. Two of the storylines in the book revolve around an RNLI volunteer and someone borrowing money from a loan-shark. Illegal money lending is a subject I’m familiar with in my charity work. Many people perceive loan sharks as being big burly men with baseball bats who look like the Mitchell brothers from Eastenders. And whereas some do look like that and behave in a violent manner, there are those who appear harmless and blend into society…until you don’t pay them what you owe.
The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) was set up in 2004 to investigate loan sharks and the impact of illegal money lending. They have teams working across the UK, and each team is comprised of specialist investigators and Liaison Officers who have previously worked for the police, trading standards, and debt advice services. Together they work to prosecute illegal money lenders while supporting people who owe money to a loan shark. Since 2004, the IMLT have supported over 25,000 people and written off over £63,500,000 of debt. It is estimated that there are 310,000 people in debt to illegal money lenders in the UK. Quite scary statistics!
Although I knew quite a bit about illegal money lending, I knew very little about the RNLI. Like lots of people, I was transfixed by the TV programme Saving Lives at Sea. I had no idea the work of the RNLI was so varied, or so risky! There were stories about animals being rescued, swimmers getting into trouble, and boats suffering mechanical failure. But then there were sad stories, like people with mental health issues trying to commit suicide, kids jumping off rock-faces and suffering life-changing injuries from hitting the water. Then there were the crazy behaviour stories, like the drunk uni students who went skinny-dipping, and the partygoers who jumped into the sea and then found themselves stranded. One family hired a boat for the day, which sprung a leak and sunk. None of the family could swim, and no one was wearing a life-vest. Whatever the drama, the RNLI never judge and are always on hand to respond. They are all volunteers, who give up their time freely to serve their community and help keep people safe. I was hugely impressed by their dedication and bravery, and watching the perilous rescues from the safety of my TV sparked an idea for a story in The Summer Theatre by the Sea.
Both of these organisations are incredible and work tirelessly to protect our communities. Knowing more about them and how they function, my admiration has only increased. I hope I have done them justice in my book.