David Shibli has come a long way. A former homeless man who suffered from a serious gambling addiction, he hit rock bottom in the ‘80s. Having a hard time as a young man, he started writing as an outlet for his dark feelings. After about six months The Cayman Conspiracy was born.
At the time, David didn’t think he could be an author, so he threw his copy away and gave another a member of his family. Little did he know, but his mother sent the manuscript to a publisher in London, where it sat in the bottom of a drawer for 20 years.
David went on with his life, without thinking about the manuscript. Until earlier this year, when, oddly enough, during a visit to Sheffield, the original manuscript was returned to him. Dave Pike, the publisher, happened to do a clean-out the same year David was coincidently in the UK.
Reading the manuscript for the first time in 20 years, David got emotional. He decided to make digital copies, to see what other people thought of it. To his surprise the book got great reviews.
“My boss for eight years read a copy. He said this is a great book, non-stop action straight to finish, couldn’t put it down,” says David.
About the book
David says the book is 30 per cent memoir and 70 per cent fiction. “I’ve been reading since I was four years old, so I’ve devoured books over my life. I actually got an A in English literature, I always enjoyed writing at school, and it was a lot of fun, expressing myself, but I always saw myself as a scientist or engineer.”
He says the book contains characters and situations that have been involved in his real life.
“I mean, they say you should only write about things you know, so it’s about casinos. When I was very early 20s I thought that I could be a great winner in casinos, so I visited Las Vegas at least three times, so … in this book the street geography, the names, it’s all accurate because it’s based on my own experience.”
The main character, Joe, is married to a daughter of one of the MLA’s in Cayman, Arthur. His task is evaluating gambling, and because he’s been a gambler himself at university and had a bad experience, he’s not really keen on the idea of legalising gambling in Cayman.
“It’s really a book about people, persistence, forgiveness and redemption, and that no one is perfect and that people can work together, that there is goodness in each person, they can bring the best out of each other.”
He also hints that there are some, “quite interesting twists towards the end where the main character’s weakness is very dramatically exposed, and yet his friends have accepted him for what he is, and they work around that to bring the story to a good conclusion.”
Joe accidently comes across a letter addressed to Arthur warning him not legalise gambling in Cayman, as the organisation Eastern Promise Gaming Inc. was responsible for the gambling problems of his brother, and his death. Joe then decides to go to the corporation in Las Vegas to determine whether it is criminal or not.
“He is a very idealistic character, everything to him is simple, he lives in a dream world if you like, and he’s never had any hardship in his life. On the plane to Vegas, he sits next to this girl who was obviously a hooker,” says David.
“I developed the character – she was so pivotal to helping Joe, so I made her partner with this guy as he’s on his way to Vegas to try and find out if he can prevent the casino from coming.”
“There are some interesting little parts where I develop the characters to work with each other to discuss how real people feel,” he says.
“I’m sure that many people will read this and see a little bit of themselves in one or two of these characters. I’m hoping as well that people that have been caught up hopeless situations in their lives, if they read this, they will feel there’s hope, and redemption so it’s a very positive story.”
Meet the author
David launches The Cayman Conspiracy at Books & Books at 7pm tonight (Friday 19, August) with a book discussion and signing.