Biography of Linda Davies

Childhood and Student Life

Linda Davies, the daughter of a Welsh father and Danish mother was born in Newton Mearns, near Glasgow in Scotland and brought up in south Wales. Her childhood home in Pontyclun was not far from the Royal Mint at Llantrisant. Linda's father Glyn Davies, an emeritus professor of the University of Wales, held a chair of banking and finance and was a director of the Commercial Bank of Wales and the author of a standard 700 page book on the history of money, now in its third edition. The second of Linda's three elder brothers is also a professor of economics, at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. As a child, Linda was originally more interested in horses than in economics, but, perhaps not surprisingly with this background, she developed an interest in that subject in her later years at school. From the local comprehensive in Pontyclun she moved to St Edmund Hall in the University of Oxford where she studied politics, philosophy and economics. While in Oxford she also worked for Cherwell, the student newspaper, as features and news editor and won the Philip Geddes prize for the most promising student journalist.

A Career in Investment Banking

Linda graduated from Oxford in 1985 and spent the next seven years as an investment banker working for first an American, then a Swiss-American, and finally a British bank. Her formal training in banking took place in New York, at a time when the cult of money and takeover madness was transforming Wall Street. Later, in an interview in the Sunday Times magazine section/colour supplement, 4 July 1993, p. 30-37 she described that experience.

A Wall Street Training

The training programme was a war of attrition, and had I known what was coming I would probably have caught the first plane back to London: 36 hour working stints, exams every fortnight (fail one and you're fired), the removal of all individual characteristics and the pasting on of a veneer of high seriousness. I was to learn from the training programme not just the mechanics of corporate finance, but how to look, act and survive in the financial world. The Americans, familiar with the required image, sailed through this part, but we all took a battering with the mind games ...

The pressure polarised the trainees. Some knuckled down and became ultra-committed, others became closet rebels. The committed were wiser, knowing that however tempting, it is better not to bite the hand that feeds you. I became an early rebel ...

I survived and gained confidence. I was extravagantly rewarded while the unsuccessful were banished with no references and no payoff - yet the margin between success and failure was so fine it seemed almost arbitrary. My introduction to the brutality of the merchant banking world forged feelings of panic, despair and exhausted resignation. It also shattered illusions, leaving me prepared to deal with the reality.

Sexism in the City

Linda returned to a deregulated City of London where she was the first woman her American bank had ever employed in corporate finance. After 4 years of regularly working until 9 or 10 pm she found the long working hours intolerable and joined a British merchant bank. However she found the environment there deeply inhospitable to women and a year later Linda moved to a flamboyant Swiss-American bank, regarded as one of the most ruthless of all the City banks.

Eastern Europe after Communism

She was responsible for finding venture capital investments in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, Czechoslavkia, and Hungary. Her work also took her to France, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Norway and the newly re-united Germany. The pursuit of deals took her to capital cities, factories and castles in the remote countryside; she stayed in communist holiday camps (in Slovakia) and a nineteenth century spa (in Bohemia); meetings were in palaces, casinos, tenement blocks, with high financiers and gangsters.

Dealing in Bonds

The lifestyle, though exciting was draining, and Linda contemplated leaving the City but instead decided to ask for a chance to work on the trading floor of the same bank, selling bonds. She had days on which she would make a profit of £75,000 in five minutes. Of one such occasion she said:
I should have been euphoric but instead was guilty and annoyed; my profit had been made, in large part, at someone else's expense and, infuriatingly, a stupid error made in the excitement had lost me a potential additional profit of £20,000. Aside from the money, life on the trading floor had little to recommend it.

Even the financial gains could easily vanish. When Gorbachev was deposed a colleague's £3 million profit turned into a £4 million loss overnight, and Linda was dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to salvage the situation. Such experiences are the stuff of which her novels are made. The idea for her first book came suddenly. One afternoon, in July 1991, she thought of the perfect crime and started to write Nest of Vipers ...

Becoming a Writer

Linda gave up her City job to write full time and Nest of Vipers was published in Britain in 1994 and in the United States in 1995. Three years later, a former British secret agent, Richard Tomlinson, alleged that MI6 had a spy in the Bundesbank code-named Orcada, who provided inside information on Germany's proposed interest rate movements - a claim that could almost have come straight from the pages of Nest of Vipers! In 1999 another former British agent alleged the Russians were spying on banks in the City of London - another example of the novel's topicality and prescience.

As part of her research for her second novel, Wilderness of Mirrors, Linda travelled to Hong Kong and Vietnam. The plot involves the relationships between the security services, drug smugglers, arms dealers, the diamond industry and the stock markets. Wilderness of Mirrors was published in both Britain and the United States in 1996, but by that time Linda's life had taken another change of direction and she was living in Peru.

A Novelist's Adventures in Peru

Till a voice as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated-so:
"Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind
the Ranges -
"Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting
for you. Go!'

Rudyard Kipling, The Explorer.

That verse is quoted at the beginning of Linda's third novel, Into the Fire to express the feelings that motivate the actions of the heroine of the story. In some ways it could also be said to apply to Linda herself. The Explorer was also a favourite of Hiram Bingham who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911.

In 1995 Linda married Rupert Wise, an investment banker who was posted very shortly afterwards to Peru to establish a presence for his bank in Latin America.

In that country she had a very eventful 3 years with several close brushes with danger. As the wife of a high profile foreign banker (who entertained the Peruvian prime in his house and accompanied President Fujimori on a trip to London), Linda had to have a bodyguard with her whenever she left her house. Their neighbours ranged from respectable business people to drug barons. Even in her house she was not safe. Within weeks of moving in burglars broke in and stole Linda's and her husband's computers. Not long afterwards their guard dogs were poisoned. But the most frightening incident was still to come ...

The Gun Battle in the Garden

One evening, when Linda and Rupert were relaxing after the last guests had left a party at their house, they heard gunfire in the neighbourhood. Soon afterwards the house alarm went off as intruders tried to break in and moments later armed men climbed over the garden wall. Rupert, a former officer in the British army, grabbed a pistol and ventured outside. Linda took a knife from the kitchen and, while the sound of shots being exchanged in the garden reverberated through the house, she crept to a phone and called a friend who had several armed guards. He dashed round with his men and drove the attackers off. That gun battle inspired one of the chapters in her new novel, Into the Fire. A more permanent and peaceful occupant of the garden, Pepelucho the macaw, appears in the book under his own name.

The Hostage Crisis, Terrorists and Drug Dealers

Danger came not only from bandits but also from the members of the terrorist movements which, although they had lost most of their power by the mid-1990s were still a threat. Linda and her husband knew several of the hostages among the 500 seized in the reception at the Japanese embassy in Lima in December 1996 and would probably have been among them if Rupert hadn't had to go on business to Columbia - where he narrowly escaped a car bomb explosion on the way to the airport.

The successful conclusion to the hostage crisis was a major boost to President Fujimori's popularity. However, despite the improvements in the economy during his presidency the grinding poverty of a large proportion of the population fuelled terrorism, and continues to fuel banditry and the drug trade. In the 1990s some 40% of the world's cocaine originated in Peru's Huallaga Valley. Paste made from the coca grown there, is flown as to Colombia for processing into cocaine. Linda wanted to visit the Huallaga Valley as part of her research for her book and when she mentioned that to the Peruvian prime minister over dinner in their house he offered to provide a military escort, but Rupert persuaded her to change her mind. More journalists have been murdered in Peru than in any country since the Vietnam War - journalists investigating the narco business and SIN (Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional), the Peruvian National Intelligence Service, both of which are relevant to the plot of Into the Fire.

Hiking in the Andes and Exploring Ancient Ruins

But there is another side to Peru; the country is staggeringly beautiful. (For ordinary visitors, especially relatively penniless-looking backpackers, who know where to go and are sensible, the country is quite safe). Linda and Rupert hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu a number of times and also went hiking in Peru's highest mountain range near Huaraz. They also visited many of the archaeological sites of the Incas and Peru's other, earlier, less well-known indigenous civilisations.

Linda has depicted both sides of Peru in Into the Fire. She wanted to convey something of how a young woman fugitive from a totally different background reacts to the beauty and drama of life in that country, and the dilemma she faces of whether or not to trust a secretive and puzzling man she meets there - Evan Connor, apparently a tour guide but in reality a former SAS soldier now working for British intelligence. Despite her misgivings the heroine, Helen Jencks, throws in her lot with Evan Connor, and makes the irrevocable decision to walk into the fire ...

Back in London

In 1998, before the birth of their first son, Linda and Rupert moved back to Britain. Their second son was born in 2000 and shortly afterwards Linda completed her fourth novel, Something Wild, which deals with Bowie bonds and the music business, was published in September 2001. The paperback was published in November 2002. While working on the novel Linda went riding in Wyoming and also visited Venice to research some of the places in which the story is set.

London may seem to be a safer place than Peru but in May 2002 Linda was mugged in broad daylight just outside her house. She described the incident in the Evening Standard.

Imprisoned in Iran

At the end of 2004 Linda moved to Dubai with her husband and children, who by now included a baby girl. Linda and Rupert little suspected that a few months later they would find themselves in an Iranian prison at a time when relations between the British and the Iranian governments had hit a new low. On 28 October 2005 the couple were sailing in the Persian Gulf in a catamaran but as they approached the island of Abu Musa, which is claimed by both Iran and the United Arab Emirates, their boat was intercepted by two Iranian gunboats and they were taken at gunpoint, along with Paul Shulton, an Australian friend, to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas for interrogation.

It was not until some days later that British and Australian officials discovered that Linda and Rupert and Paul Shulton were being held as prisoners and started secret negotiations with the Iranian authorities. The timing could hardly have been worse. The seizure of the catamaran by Iranian gunboats came just the day after the European Union had issued a scathing condemnation of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his speech a few days earlier in which he called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Nevertheless, after nearly a couple of weeks of frenetic behind the scenes activities involving Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, and many others, the British couple and their Australian friend were released.

Children's Books new!

Before being arrested by the Iranian navy Linda Davies had started writing a book for children and had completed a chapter in which the parents of the main character were captured at sea! It was not until a year afterwards that she resumed writing but in November 2007 Sea Djinn was published by Jerboa Books, a Dubai-based publisher. It is now available world-wide from or or The second and third books in the series, Fire Djinn, and Storm Djinn can be ordered from the publisher's distributor Magrudy's, the main bookseller in Dubai.Fire Djinn will be available world-wide from 1 February 2010 and orders for it are already been taken by and


Interviews, Features and Links

There was a major feature article in the Sunday Times magazine section, 4 July 1993, p. 30-37, the Woman Who Wouldn't Play City Boys' Games, about her experience in the world of international finance. Linda was also interviewed at length in the first three episodes of a documentary series on BBC2, The Naked City , (first shown in October and November 1996) about the changes in the City of London since the Big Bang or deregulation of the financial markets exactly 10 years earlier, the role of women in the financial world, the world-wide stock market crash in 1987, and the ease with which insider trading can take place. In February 2002 she was interviewed on the Irish TV station TV3 on the subject of rogue traders which was topical again after John Rusnak, a foreign exchange dealer at Allfirst Financial, an American subsidiary of Allied Irish Banks, had been blamed for losses of $750 million.
Sexism and the City: London's old-boy financial district wakes up to the new world
By Tara Pepper, Newseek International, July 10, 2002.
Sexism and the City
An article in the Evening Standard, Monday 1 July 2002, prompted by recent, high-profile sex discrimination cases in financial institutions.
Living in fear in London
An article by Linda Davies about crime in London based on her own experience of being mugged. Evening Standard, Wednesday 26 June 2002.
David Pullman, The Financier Who Rocked the Music Industry With Pullman Bonds, is the Inspiration of Something Wild
"I was so honored when I heard that a best-selling author of Linda Davies' caliber was writing a novel based on my first deal with David Bowie," said David Pullman, Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Pullman Group. "Intellectual property continues to grow and is now a trillion dollar market. Linda's book gives readers a look at how exciting this industry can be." Business Wire, May 1, 2002.
Excess Baggage, BBC Radio 4 travel programme.
On 6 April 2002, Linda was one of three speakers in an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Excess Baggage devoted to the subject of travel and espionage.
Fired Up! An author's Adventures in Peru
An interview in which Linda explains how her experiences in Peru, as well as her earlier work, affected her writing.
USA Today Feature
Linda Davies' own 'Wilderness' of high intrigue from USA Today, 26 February 1996.
Interview for Absolute Write
Linda Davies interviewed by by Jenna Glatzer, April 2000.
Best of times, worst of times. The Sunday Times magazine, 8 December, 2002, p.15-16.
An article about Linda's school days and how she came to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.
Captured Britons released in Iran
BBC, 11 November 2005.
"We set sail on a perfect summer's morning. Within hours we were in fear of our lives" by Linda Wise.
Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2005.
The banker with a CV out of a spy novel
Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2005.
Captive trio's truth about their Iran drama is stranger than wife's fiction
Scotsman, 12 November 2005.
Writer tells of Iran kidnap ordeal
Western Mail, 12 November 2005.
Iran frees British couple after 13-day detention
Guardian, November 11, 2005.
Crime Writer Freed
Daily Mirror, 12 November 2005.
Australian detained by Iran for 13 days
ABC News, 12 November 2005.
Straw "very glad" British couple released by Iran
Payvand's Iran News, November 11, 2005. By coincidence sailing featured strongly in Linda's 5th novel, Final Settlement, first published in Canada a few months earlier! An even stranger coincidence was that she had started work on a children's novel and had recently completed a chapter in which the parents of the main character were captured at sea!
How author’s kidnapping tale turned into reality
She made a name for herself as the writer of financial thrillers, but when Linda Davies moved to Dubai she decided to try her hand at a children’s adventure story complete with sea monsters and kidnapping. Little did she know reality would follow fiction as she herself was kidnapped and held hostage in Iran. Western Mail, 2 October 2009.
A sea change
An article about how Linda Davies came to write Sea Djinn and a review of the book, Khaleej Times, 14 December 2007.
Gulfnews: Imagine!
Daring and escape from reality is what drives Linda Davies' new work of fiction – Sea Djinn. A fine piece of prose, Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary discovers that it is just the beginning ... Gulf News, December 13, 2007.
Change of course
If anyone is qualified to write a children's novel which includes a kidnap at sea, it is Dubai-based author Linda Davies. Gulf News, November 23, 2007.
"Dubai's Harry Potter" series continues
Linda Davies talks to Time Out about Fire Djinn the latest book in her fantasy series. Time Out Dubai, 3 December 2008.
Djinn’s a tonic
Linda Davies, author of the fantasy Djinn series, tells Time Out how writing lured her away from the trading floor. Time Out Dubai, 28 October 2009.
Empty Quarter stirs children’s author new!
An article about how Linda Davies came to write Storm Djinn, The National, 6 November 2009.

[ Top ]
[ Linda Davies' home page ]
[ Nest of Vipers | Wilderness of Mirrors | Into the Fire | Something Wild | Final Settlement ]
[ The Djinn series of children's books ]
[ Book Orders ]
[ The Financial Fiction Genre | Financial Scandals | History of Money ]
[Glyn Davies - the father of Linda Davies | Roy Davies' Home Page ]
Biography of Linda Davis (i.e. Davies), written by her brother.
E-mail Roy Davies.
last updated 20 December 2009.