Linda Davies

Linda Davies writes novels, both for adults and children and also narrative non-fiction. She also became the College’s first Writer in Residence during Michaelmas term 2018. Linda returned to live at Teddy Hall for the term and spent time engaging with members of the College community to discuss, encourage and support multiple aspects of writing, from inspiration to publication, covering motivation, technique and the business aspects of writing. She also shared her own experience of getting inspiration from her first career, how she managed to extract herself from it to become a writer, writing in different genres, getting published and dealing with the TV and the movie world.

Linda’s first novel, Nest of Vipers, became a global best-seller published in over thirty territories and has been optioned five times for a movie or TV series. She has had five more adult thrillers published and also five for children, including Longbow Girl, winner of the Mal Peet Children’s Book of the Year Award in 2016. Longbow Girl has also been optioned for TV and is in pre-production. Linda has also written a memoir, Hostage, Kidnapped on the High Seas, about her kidnap and detention in Iran. She is currently writing a non-fiction book about money and is thrilled that the Hall has already worked its magic and inspired her to start a new novel.

Whilst dreaming of being a novelist since she was a small child, economic realities led her to an initial career as an investment banker. This followed on from three very happy years at the Hall reading PPE. Upon graduation, Linda worked as an investment banker in London, New York and Eastern Europe for seven years. She worked both in corporate finance and on the trading floor and was able to see and contrast first-hand the more than occasional clash between theoretical and actual values. She learned on the trading floor about the power of herd behaviour and as a result has a heightened interest in behavioural economics.

It sounds dramatic, but getting into St Edmund Hall and my education there changed the course of my life. I was the first person from my school to go to Oxford, having ignored the advice of my French teacher who told me that I would only be disappointed when I failed to get in.

I decided that risk was worthwhile! I was extremely fortunate to be offered a place to read PPE. The subject matter of that degree and the methods by which it was taught gave me the tools and skills, the knowledge and the confidence to make a successful career as an investment banker. In my tutorials I was taught to analyse, argue and to defend my viewpoint, extremely useful skills. The knowledge that I could do so gave me the confidence to argue my case effectively (whether it was making an equity investment in a management buyout or buying junk bonds in a high-risk company).

My experience at St Edmund Hall also helped in my next career as a writer and novelist. I was lucky enough to win one of the Philip Geddes prizes for journalism, which again gave me the confidence to risk giving up my investment banking career to write novels. So much of life is about taking risks and acquiring the substance that gives you confidence. St Edmund Hall did both for me, whilst also being an extremely friendly and welcoming environment, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Linda delivered a talk at the Centre for the Creative Brain’s event entitled The Origins of Inspiration, in which she explained how she came to write her first novel (after getting angry with her boss!) and how she has found inspiration for her subsequent books.

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The Origins of Inspiration: videos of talks now online

24 Dec 2018

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