Clients of web-based dating agencies communicate with one another other across the world almost instantly. Thousands of personal profiles and photographs are transmitted worldwide in little electronic burps every second of every day. But what was life like for singles and international dating agencies before computers dominated our lives?
How would someone start such an agency from scratch back then? Moreover, what kinds of people became clients? Were they ‘normal’ (like you and I) or were most sexual predators, fraudsters, or just plain weirdos? And perhaps more importantly, did any of these people find what they were looking for?
My story is a true account of my joy, pain and laughter as I create and run just such an agency in recession-hit England during the early 90s, and all on a shoe-string budget!
The story is set in a time when the prospective clients of singles agencies had to mail their bio-data, profiles and fees internationally. As a recently divorced and lonely single person myself at the time, and a severely underfunded struggling businessman, my frustrations are never far from the surface as I battle with credit card companies, tax authorities and irate clients not to mention the prejudice some people hold, and possibly still hold, against such agencies and the people who use them to find love. All these difficulties are exacerbated by an entirely justified contempt for authority I have held since being brutally assaulted at age 10, by a trusted authority figure.
Among the many characters to make an appearance are a real-life axe murderer; a very suave and urbane English fraudster who runs off with a client’s property; a ‘mad’ English professor with an excellent line in verbal put-downs; the Miami Mafia features in my death-defying visit to their city, undertaken in an attempt to reduce the agency’s overseas postage fees; as does a secret Japanese sect, an English military officer’s rescue of a beautiful Japanese ward held within, and his ensuing marriage to her; an Englishman’s very frustrating blind date on a rain soaked mountain in Columbia; a very forgetful, yet erstwhile very astute, gin-soaked matchmaker; my difficult escape from a very determined wealthy Jewess on a sales trip to New York city, and a spooky, gay English clairvoyant also make their appearances – along with many more unusual yet real-life characters.
And of course, there are many heart-warming true stories of people finding true love, in many countries across the world. These include the story of an eminent Brazilian doctor who asked me to find a suitable introduction for his young Brazilian ward. We arranged for her to be flown to Portugal, with the doctor’s wife acting as chaperone, to meet a young Portuguese doctor. The ward and the Portuguese doctor fell in love, married and settled in Portugal. All this was achieved despite the formidable distances; absence of electronic communication, and the language and cultural barriers involved. There are of course many other stories of a similar nature, but I trust you will understand that they are perhaps better viewed within the contextual flow of the story.
It is history of course, that the internet subsumed such agencies, and in the process made many of the owners into multi-millionaires overnight. The reasons why this didn’t happen to the protagonist in this story are many and varied. These include the fact that the ISP I engaged to publish the agency on the internet, chose instead to sell the idea to a tractor manufacturing company, seeing no potential whatsoever in publishing a dating agency on the internet.
Targeted Age Group: 18-80
Book Price: $2.35
How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
The genre is “Fictionalized Memoir” which sounds pretty grand, but it’s really a catalogue of the crazy things that actually happened to me as a single guy trying to run a dating agency. Most books on dating agencies are good guesses, but they don’t come close to reality!
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
From what I have discovered it seems to me that self-promotion is crucially important. Even if you have an agent it seems you will still be expected to do most of the legwork as an author. My only other discovery is that it is exactly the same as any other form of self promotion: if you give in to your fears, insecurities or weaknesses you will not make it; you must keep at it to succeed – unless you have money and/or connections in which case ignore the foregoing!
I am married to the beautiful character named “Sally” in my book. We met just before starting the agency, and got married in Las Vegas in 2011 – it was a long courtship! As can be seen in my book, without her help in diffusing delicate situations the agency would never have survived a week! Sally’s children, whom I mention in the book, are all grown-up with families of their own now, and are spread across the globe.
Sally and I both like to travel and have made many friends across the world in our years together. Her hobby is painting, and she is very good at it; mine is golf and I am quite useless at it, but I still love the game!
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It’s strange how that happened. I took a degree course in law and went on to do a post graduate degree in legal research. Somewhere along the way I found I could write and that I enjoyed writing. I have had two academic articles, concerning quite technical legal issues, published in international legal journals. This book is light years away from an academic tome but it keeps my eye in!