What would I do if I won £33,000,000? I must start thinking….
I am delighted to introduce my next guest – Carol Maginn – a comparatively new member of the prolific Crooked Cat authors, whose comic novel, Ruin was launched last month. She says winning the lottery isn’t so much a happy ending as a complicated new beginning, as she shares her thoughts on the rationale behind the book.
You can see my review of this most entertaining book HERE.
I should probably start by setting out my stall – I don’t do the Lottery. But this doesn’t stop me have very clear ideas about what I’d do with the money if I won. And I know other people who do too. A friend who suffers from insomnia often whiles away the night hours founding charities and buying small Caribbean islands. A colleague of mine admitted that, on his long, rainy railway journey to work, he sometimes finds himself commuting between his imaginary apartment in Prague and his imaginary villa in Cannes.
But the reality…..Well, it seems to me to be a place where joy and disaster come close to meeting. ‘Life-changing’ is a loaded phrase. The point about a sudden deluge of money is that everything is changed, instantly and irrevocably. It isn’t so much a happy ending as a complicated new beginning in which all the fundamentals have been altered. Shock, slow realisation and, finally, adjustment are the stages I’ve heard Lottery winners describe. There are those who start by declaring that the win will make no difference to them. This seems, somehow, to arouse ire. ‘Give it to me, then!’ was one newspaper columnist’s response. A number keep their win very quiet, in order to hold on to their old life.
I don’t want to overstate this. Obviously, for many people, a Lottery win has to be a recipe for a different and much more enjoyable life. A permanent suntan and no financial worries ever….what’s not to like? Sympathy for the wealthy (like sympathy for the Royals) could well be just a mechanism the rest of us employ to make ourselves feel better about our relative lack of wealth.
And yet….the saddest Lottery story I came across was that of a young man who was part of a winning syndicate at the age of 17. He was a shy youth, and used his money to buy a house into which he retreated. His father was his only companion, and they would play billiards. After his father died, the young man committed suicide. I also read about a Lottery winner who invested heavily in a hotel and restaurant business, and continued to invest as the business sank, and was ruined. His wife said she wouldn’t ever be able to forgive him. Back in the 1960’s, the original big spender, Pools winner Viv Nicholson, not only lost her husband in a drunken car accident, but ended up back as a market trader, her fortune gone. Lottery winners have managed to become bankrupt, or divorced, or both. The Statute of Limitations was construed so that one Lottery winner, who won while serving a conviction for rape, could be sued in the civil court by his victim, despite the length of time which had passed since the crime, now that he had the means to pay damages. An unpredictable, and satisfying, turn of events.
At the other end of the spectrum is the American, Tom Crist, who made headlines at the end of last year when he announced that he was giving his forty million dollar Lottery win to charity, because, simply, he ‘already had enough money.’
All of this, it seemed to me, made a good basis for fiction. The reality of sudden great wealth wreaks the kind of havoc on my fictional family that I think it would wreak on most people. They all live to tell the tale—this is a comic rather than a tragic novel—and survive the onslaught of random good fortune.
But that isn’t always how it works out……and so I’m hoping— for your sake, you understand— that this week it isn’t you….