If you ever wondered how a seemingly insignificant detail can derail a perfectly planned caper, you should add Loot for the Taking to your list of books to read.
Former Colwood resident Don Levers found inspiration for his book in three of the most famous robberies in history. Although Lever draws from the thefts in London at the Baker Street branch of the Lloyd’s Bank Deposit in 1971 and the Knightsbridge Deposit in 1987, one famous heist much closer to home forms much of the creative threads that weave their way through his story.
The more Levers was able to find out about the theft from Vancouver Safety Deposit Vaults in 1977, the more that crime resonated with him, he explained in a telephone interview from Sturgeon County, Alberta, where he has lived since 2012.
“I first heard about it around the time it happened,” Levers said. “It always amazed me that these guys pulled off the perfect robbery only to get caught at the airport because one of the suitcases was too heavy,” he explained. “I kept thinking, who planned the getaway?” That motivated Levers to come up with a story involving a monumental heist pulled of by “just four average guys,” instead of a seasoned gang of career criminals.
Although he began writing Loot for the Taking in 1987, it had to stay on the back burner for the most part during a 17-year stretch when Levers owned and operated Capit Canopy and Truck Accessory on the West Shore. Once he finally found the time to invest in some serious research, Levers was surprised by how difficult it was to track down information on the robbery – arguably the largest in Canadian history – other than some old headlines and clippings he dug up at the library. It wasn’t until June of last year that he was able to get down to some serious writing.
Loot for the Taking was published in July of this year, which was the 40th anniversary of the Vancouver Safety Deposit Vaults robbery.
“I started writing stories when my kids were young,” he explained when asked how he got bitten by the writer’s bug. “History and writing were always my favourite subjects in high school.”
He sold 25,000 copies of his first book, Ogopogo the Misunderstood Lake Monster, which Levers wrote for his children in about six months. “I worked with a friend, a local artist, who developed the art work to go with the story.”
He enlisted the help of TellWell Talent in Victoria for Loot for the Taking, which assists writers through the process of getting their books published. Levers admits there’s a sense of accomplishment when you finally finish the book. “I had some people whose opinion I respect take a look,” he said. “They liked the story and the feedback was positive. As a self-published author, writing is the easy part,” he noted. “Marketing and reaching out, the shameless self-promotion, is the hard part.”
Levers will be back in B.C. to promote his book on Sept. 2 at Chapters bookstore in Victoria and Cole’s bookstore in Westshore Town Centre in Langford on Sept. 3. For more on the book, take a look at lootforthetaking.com.