HowI­got in­side the mindof Jackie O

Au­thor Gill Paul tells Maria Croce about her tale of in­fa­mous love tri­an­gle

Daily Record - - LIFE -

BEST-SELL­ING au­thor Gill Paul de­vel­oped a love of swim­ming out­doors in lochs as a child – and while re­search­ing her lat­est book she evaded se­cu­rity to swim to a pri­vate is­land.

The Scot is known for her his­tor­i­cal nov­els in which she fic­tion­alises the lives of real peo­ple in liv­ing mem­ory.

For her new book, The Sec­ond Mar­riage, she has cre­ated a story around Jackie Kennedy and Maria Cal­las, who were both in­volved with Greek ship­ping bil­lion­aire Aris­to­tle Onas­sis.

And while re­search­ing her book in Greece, she took the op­por­tu­nity to swim from a boat to a beach on Sko­r­pios, Onas­sis’s pri­vate is­land, to see what it was like.

Gil l said: “I ’m a big swim­mer and I know Jackie Kennedy was as well.

“I had to get a mo­tor boat and avoid the se­cu­rity guard. I found a quiet cove round the cor­ner and I man­aged to swim to shore. It was re­ally lovely and beau­ti­ful.”

Gill grew up in Mil­ngavie and went to the Univer­sity of Glas­gow but now lives in Lon­don with her part­ner Karel Bata, who is a light artist cre­at­ing pro­jec­tions on to trees and build­ings.

Her dad John was a pro­fes­sor of bio en­gi­neer­ing at Strath­clyde Univer­sity and they would chal­lenge each other to swim in cold wa­ter.

She still goes swim­ming ev­ery day in ponds – even if she needs to break ice on the sur­face dur­ing win­ter – having de­vel­oped her love of out­door swim­ming at Loch Lomond.

Gill has been fas­ci­nated by his­tory since she was a teenager and spe­cialises in writ­ing about the 20th cen­tury and the lives of real women.

Her nov­els have topped best-seller lists in the US and Canada as well as the UK and have been trans­lated into 20 lan­guages.

The Secret Wife, about the Ro­manov fam­ily, has sold more than half a mil­lion copies and is a book club favourite world­wide. She’s just signed a con­tract for her 10th novel, which is due to come out next year. Biog­ra­phers re­port the facts but as a his­tor­i­cal nov­el­ist Gill goes be­hind the scenes to try to ex­plain char­ac­ters’ ac­tions, cre­at­ing di­a­logue and thoughts.

She said: “My story is told half from Jackie Kennedy’s point of view and half from Maria Cal­las’s point of view as their lives started to over­lap through their re­la­tion­ship with Aris­to­tle Onas­sis.

“There’s lots of ques­tions about both their lives that I tried to ad­dress. Why did

Jackie marry him? It’s an odd one. Was it just for money? In which case do we per­haps look upon her as the cold-hearted per­son?

“Her sis­ter Lee (Radzi­will) had been having an af­fair with him be­fore­hand. Surely you would ask your sis­ter if you started go­ing out with her ex, ‘Do you mind?’

“But no, Jackie just went ahead and agreed to marry Aris­to­tle and got him to ring and tell her sis­ter two nights be­fore the wed­ding.

“When I was writ­ing it, I did meet sev­eral peo­ple who had met Jackie but mostly I stick to writ­ten sources – bi­ogra­phies, let­ters and li­brary ar­chives.”

But Gill does not feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep strictly to the facts.

She said: “We’re not writ­ing his­tory text­books. It’s a cre­ative re­sponse to the fact rather than a retelling of the facts. It’s my ver­sion of their sto­ries.”

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