In 1973, at the height of the Cold War, Joanna and Denis Hilton and their little car, Yoddy, a bright yellow Toyota Celica, embarked on their greatest adventure -- a motoring holiday in the Soviet Union. They had booked passage on the Soviet cruise liner Alexandr Pushkin, which plied between Montreal and Leningrad during the summer months. With Yoddy winched up and dumped unceremoniously on the main deck, they finally cast off for Leningrad. The car caused a sensation everywhere she went. It wasn't her fault that they were arrested as soon as they arrived in Leningrad, neither was it her fault that they were turned back at the first road block on their six-hundred mile journey from Leningrad to Moscow. Let's just say that she stood out a mile among the drab Czechoslovakian Skodas and East German Trabbis that she met on the way. They were advised to keep a low profile as far as possible. Although foreigners were allowed to bring their own cars, it was (so we were told) courting disaster for anyone to bring themselves to the attention of 'those in authority'. Yoddy, bright yellow as she was, seemed to relish being stared at, so it was almost inevitable that the authorities went out of their way to watch them like hawks wherever they went. Suffice it to say that, after four weeks and, several thousand miles, Denis, Joanna and Yoddy returned safely, after eugh excitement to last them a lifetime.
Denis Knight was born in 1922. After three dreadful years of caning and bullying at boarding school, he finally ran away when he was sixteen. His father, a well-known Barnstaple photographer, arranged for him to be articled to a portrait photographer in Tottenham Court Road. The war intervened and it was ten years before he returned to Barnstaple with his wife Joan and three small children and, in due course, took over the family photographic business. Later in life, he started writing again, mostly poetry and short stories. He went on his very first residential writers' course, where he was lucky enough to have Beryl Bainbridge as a tutor, it was she who insisted that he start his first novel, although it took him many years to finish and even longer to revise before it was considered good enough for publication. His second novel soon followed and now, at an age when any long-term commitment might be considered unwise, he has just spent eighteen months on this, his third novel, as a final tribute to his wife Joan and their memorable and exciting holiday in the Soviet Union.