Richard Madeley
Richard Madeley’s Literati Event on 17th October by Richard Madeley
2014/10/07  |  By:   |  Features  |  

Richard Madeley will be hosting the Literati event at Grosvenor House Hotel on 17th October at 6:30pm. Join us to hear him talk about his latest bestseller The Way You Look Tonight. You can book tickets here

To whet your appetite for the evening, Richard has shared with us his inspiration for the story.

I love writing about periods, places, and personalities – so when the idea for The Way You Look Tonight came into my head, I was incredibly excited.

It’s set in the early 1960s – the summer/autumn of 1962, in fact – a point in time when the world as we know it was changing with incredible, breath-taking speed. The 1960s changed EVERYTHING: politics, morality, sexuality, pop music. You name it, it changed. Convulsed. Somersaulted. It was the shining dawn of what we now regard as the modern era – space-shots; jet-liners; rock’n'roll.

I have the Kennedys at the heart of my story – JFK (the President), his wife Jackie, his brother Bobby (the Attorney General), they were all INCREDIBLY glamorous. JFK’s White House was known as ‘Camelot’. Cool, sexy, and supremely powerful.

My chief character is Stella. Stella Arnold. She is 22 and has just graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in Psychology. Why Psychology? Because her father was a psychopath. He killed people. He felt zero guilt about it. He even abducted Stella – his own child – for ransom. Now, Stella wants to understand the way psychopaths like her father operate. She’s a little nervous that she may have inherited some of his behavioural traits – hence her choice of degree. ‘Know thine enemy.’

The book opens to find Stella – whose looks are often compared with a young Elizabeth Taylor – on a propeller-powered plane crossing the Atlantic from London to Boston. Despite her youth she is becoming known as one of the top European experts in psychopaths, at a time when the public were becoming fascinated by them (Hitchcock’s movie Psycho, with the serial killer Norman Bates at the centre of the story, had only recently been released).

Stella is going to take her PhD – on psychopaths – at Smith University in Massachusetts. When she gets there she stays with two of the college professors, Dorothy and Jeb Rockfair. Jeb teaches history and politics and wrote some of JFK’s campaign speeches in the 1960 election. So he’s cosy with the President. Which means that to Stella’s astonishment and huge excitement, within days of arriving in America she is at a Sunday beach barbecue on the millionaire’s playground of Martha’s Vineyard with the President and his family, all in shorts, t-shirts and sandals.

Stella is beautiful and fashionably English and manages to hold her own with the most powerful – and glamorous – people on the planet. And when the President and his brother discover that she is an expert on psychopaths, they pounce. A serial killer is rampaging through the Florida Keys, sadistically slaying young women and simultaneously killing the tourist industry – including Disney’s plans to build a theme park in the state. Perhaps Stella’s expertise (what we’d call profiling today) can help the FBI nail the killer. So she agrees to fly down to sub-tropical America to help out.

I LOVED writing this story – the Kennedys, the way they talked and behaved in private; the sweaty, humid atmosphere of the Florida Keys in summer; the looming Cuban Missile Crisis; and Stella’s deepening relationship with the young FBI agent running the case. I loved the ‘60s fashions, cars, jargon, and edginess. Now the book’s out, I feel like I’ve just returned from a trip in Dr Who’s Tardis. I hope you enjoy the journey it as much as I did writing about it.

The Way You Look Tonight is out now in paperback and eBook across all retailers. Get it now on eBooks by Sainsbury’s!