The Abuse of Power by Anthony Daly
Chilling. Candid. Controversial.
This is the voice of one man from within a dark scandal that nestled in the heart of London’s Soho in the 1970s.
Travelling to the big city to escape The Troubles in his native Northern Ireland, Anthony Daly accepted a job in Foyles Bookshop and began a new life in England. However, his naivety saw him quickly fall foul of predators, looking for young men to blackmail and sexually exploit.
After years of hiding the secret of his abuse at the hands of some of the most influential men in the country, Anthony’s trauma became harder to contain, as he witnessed revelations of historic abuse coming to light on TV and in newspapers.
Then, finally, his lost voice ripped through the safe family life he had built over 40 years.
With parallels to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, this is stylishly written and politically explosive. It is the haunting true story of a young man’s decent into a hell designed to satisfy the powerful. A world that destroyed the lives of everyone involved.
Interview with Anthony Daly
Where did the inspiration come from for your new release?
The Abuse of Power is a memoir. It is the story of my sexual exploitation in London in 1975 as a high-class male escort. It is the story of a sex scandal at the heart of literary and high society London. The desire to write the book was not really conceived through inspiration as such, but out of a desire to revisit the past and try to make sense of what had happened to me. I wanted to research the social and political context and the background against which my story is set; economic turmoil, rampant police corruption, homeless young people and the rent boy scene which was centred around Piccadilly Circus.
How does it feel to know your characters are out and about in reader’s imaginations?
Most of my clients were businessmen from the world of finance – banking and insurance; and men who were booksellers, publishers, academics, politicians and others. All but one are now dead, so what I wanted to do was bring them back to life, raise them from the dead and give them voices again. I obviously couldn’t remember the conversations we had, so I created and approximated the dialogue I could not remember word for word. What I wanted to do was capture the emotional truth and reveal the honest heart of the story. I wanted to give the reader the experience of walking by my side though the streets of Soho and into the posh restaurants of the West End and into the bedrooms of Mayfair. I wanted the reader to see the neon lights, to breath the air of 1970s London and to feel the fear. I wanted the reader to sit by the dinner tables and the bedsides and listen to the conversations I had with the characters I met, and no matter how uncomfortable the experience, to watch us have sex. Having given life to the characters again, it’s satisfying to know that the reader will get to know them and to see into their hearts and souls.
Do you miss writing about them?
I miss the experience of time travel that memoir writing provides. To meet and chat with old friends and enemies again, but I am content to have laid them to rest. Occasionally a ghost pops up and I brush him away.
What was your publishing journey highlight?
The highlight of my publishing journey was to see my book prominently displayed on the shelves of my local bookshop.
What was the last book that made you laugh out loud?
I’ll Tell Then I Remember You it’s a happy/sad memoir by William Pater Blatty. Blatty of course wrote The Exorcist, but before that he was a writer who produced comedy fiction. I read this book years ago but read it again recently. I’m a big Blatty fan.
What was the last book that made you cry?
I hate to say this but the last book that made me cry was my own. It was a torturous, emotionally draining and yet a cathartic book to write. There is great sadness in it and at times the screen in front of me dissolved with tears; but don’t despair, it’s also about love, hope and redemption.
If you were on an island for a year what two books would you bring?
At Swim Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill – his lyrical prose is not of this world.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I have never read it but if I were marooned on an island for a year…
Lastly, what is your favourite book quote?
Why should I be afraid now?Strange men have come to kill me ever since I was 12 years old. The Godfather by Mario Puzo.
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