Novel idea born in Saddleworth

A NOVEL conceived and written in California has its roots firmly in Saddleworth.

And the world will be hearing much more of author Gary Finnan’s character, Billy McTaggart – alias Billy Tapper – in the coming years.‘Billy Tapper – Zillionaire’ is the first in a trilogy of books chronicling the life of a post-World War Two railyard wheeltapper whose life changes forever after uncovering a secret hidden inside a rail car.

But as Gary revealed to the Independent from his home in Sonoma County, California: “Diggle is foundational to the story and will always be the place Billy Tapper comes home to.”

Born in Scotland and raised in South Africa and Zimbabwe, Billy’s creator, however, is a regular visitor to Saddleworth.

Sister, Pamela McGroarty, is a Diggler and Gary spent a fortnight in the area last summer putting the finishing touches to Zillionaire.

“Diggle was a natural location for the book,” he added. “The original story was inspired when I met an old rail worker from Leeds in Las Vegas through mutual friends.“In his youth, he discovered a freight wagon full of money in the late 50s.

“By the time I drove back to San Francisco the story had formed in my mind.

“I am still not sure though where the Tapper came from, probably some memory as a boy growing up in Dundee.

“But I have spent time exploring the railway and Standedge Tunnel because Diggle had such an ambience with a rich rail history.

“Saddleworth museum was a great resource for the time period and the mood still sat heavy in the region with the old mills, terrace houses and the local tobacconist shop.

“I love the pubs and set several scenes in the Diggle Hotel, The Navigation and The Gate. The Church Inn will be in the next book.

“One of the most endearing aspects of Diggle are the local characters: the people you meet on walks along the canal with a stop at Grandpa Greene’s or having a loaded bacon, egg, and black pudding muffin at Wilberries tea shop.

“All of the stories in the book are based on some original and true version of a story.

“The history is real, the music is real and Billy is an accidental bystander to a world that is moving fast into the modern age.

“The metaphor of the Tapper touching his hammer to the iron train wheels and listening to hear the ring of true or broken is central to the story.”

Available for Kindle and as a paperback through Amazon, Zillionaire promises a fascinating read.

We do not want to give too much away but glean some clues from the book’s synopsis.

It reads: “Bullied for his small stature but endowed with a sharp mind, the fierce ambition of his sweetheart Meg, and the love of his Mam, Billy navigates a rapidly changing world where steam engines give way to rock and roll, Elvis, and the Beatles.

“Everything changes for Billy in one breath-taking moment when he uncovers an amazing secret hidden inside a rail car.

“Romance, loss, pain, and elation follow his path up and out of England’s rigid class system. Through it all, Billy maintains his generous spirit and sense of what is right.”

To buy a copy follow the link

While Zillionaire is Gary’s first full length novel he has published another work: Hector At Ground Level and Beyond: A Very Simple Love Story.

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