Many years ago I read my first Modesty Blaise thriller. I was instantly hooked and continued to read Peter O´Donnell´s excellent thrillers about that female James Bond. After a few books I thought I dared to write to him asking for a letter-interview in my magazine DAST. I got a nice answer and also his latest book signed with a nice dedication. From that moment we started to exchange letters.
I got the opportunity to meet Peter at his office on Fleet Street, London in November 1978. I must say I have never seen a more modest office owned by a world wide famous author. A couple of chairs. A desk and some paintings of Modesty Blaise on the walls. That was it! Peter told me he really separated his work from his family life in Brighton, where he lived.
I meet him for a second time also at his office and that time together with a good friend. My friend got Peter to sign a book, and was so happy that he actually forgot it, and Peter had to send it to Sweden a week later.
Unfortunately Peter O´Donnell died in 2010 at the age of ninety. The story I´m going to tell I promised Peter not to do so until after his death. He was indeed also a very shy man who didn´t want to brag in any way. So here is what happened some years ago….
At least twenty years ago, if I remember right, I introduced two Swedish friends to Peter. They did some business together and they visited Peter in his home and Peter came to Sweden to meet them a couple of times. Peter liked them very much and specially the wife who he really took to his heart. When I talked to the wife, I got a feeling that Peter thought of her like a living Modesty Blaise in some way or another. This couple lived in Spain during the winter for many years.
Many years later the couple divorced - and it was not a nice divorce. The wife moved back to Sweden permanently and some time after that she married a Spaniard whom she had met in Spain. They both went back to Spain and lived under very small circumstances because her ex-husband had taken all money.
So came the financial strike and her Spanish husband lost his job and they had no money. They now also had a small daughter. It was a real crisis. My wife and I talked to the woman and asked her if she didn´t know anybody who could help her/the family? She said: “The only one I could think of could be Peter O´Donnell but I don´t dare to ask him.
So my wife and I talked about it and I wrote a long letter to Peter explaining what had happened to his “granddaughter”, which he often called her. After a week we got a letter in which Peter asked me to phone him up, which I did. We talked for a long time and finally he told me he would like to help the young woman. A week later I got an envelope with a cheque and a letter where Peter told me not to mention anything to anybody (until after his death). It was a large sum of money (X.XXX £) and it was with great pleasure we could drive over to the young family and give them the cheque from Peter. They were both crying and very soon after that she wrote a long letter to Peter and thanked him for saving them.
Today they are still married and now have two children. The husband now has a job from and security but Peter saved them at a very bad moment in their life.