It was while researching her first book, a biography of her lighthouse-building ancestors the Stevensons, that Bella Bathurst first came upon a description by Robert Louis Stevenson of a village of wreckers. The ship on which Stevenson's father and grandfather were travelling was trapped in bad weather close to land in the treacherous Pentland Firth. As the ship struggled in the swell and fired a distress signal, those on board could see the inhabitants of the coastal village emerge from their homes in the early morning, ready for a kill.
Door after door was opened, and in the grey light of the morning fisher after fisher was seen to come forth yawning and stretching himself, nightcap on head. Fisher after fisher, I wrote, and my pen tripped; for it should stand wrecker after wrecker. There was no emotion. no animation.