They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.
When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.
Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.
As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….…
– When and where do you prefer to write?
Always at home at my desk which has a laptop, and desk lamp, and coasters to hold my red wine ! I mostly write in the evenings and weekends due to working full time in cyber security, and often my young 4-year-old daughter will sit on my lap while I type with one finger! She also loves drawing all over my sketch pads that have the plot written down and is incredibly helpful as striking out with a line those parts of the plot that need to be culled.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Absolutely none! I have zero routine mainly because I have a full-time day job, a family with children, and a hectic life with social and sports that stops routine. I suppose my ritual is that I spend the first 3 months thinking and plotting a spy novel, creating linkage maps of characters and plots, then I create an outline plot with sub plot – plus more research and thinking. I like to intertwine topical political events, with current geo-political threats, and then build a story line and a character arc that merges the strategic politics with the frustrations and conflict of the ground operators. Then I’ll write for 5 or 6 months grabbing time at home wherever I can. The final 3 months is editing and preparing for publication
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Generally water and red wine – Hemmingway once said write drunk edit sober – and whilst I’ve never been drunk writing I do find a small wine useful to get creative.
– What is your favourite book?
Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy by Le Carre
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I think I’d find that quite challenging but actually, now that you’ve posed the question, I might have a think on that. I currently enjoy writing spy thrillers because I am able to draw upon my own experiences to craft the stories. The genre appeals because I can use my background and experiences in the military to craft a story that is perhaps authentic and insightful, making use of modern-day cyber technology and spy tradecraft that utilises a range of technologies including geo-forensics. I think if I was to write in another genre, it might be crime and mystery.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Most of my characters are based upon people I know and served with. Its great to be able to paint their own persona’s and foibles which I know well and then create story arcs for them all. The characters are generally a blend of numerous people I served with. Sean, the main character, for example, is based upon three individuals I served with as an intelligence and bomb disposal officer – It was great fun blending in some of the raw character of my friends, their foibles, and their rough edges. It was important to me that Sean did not become the tired ‘lone wolf’ superspy that you usually find in spy thrillers, but I wanted him to use his charisma and flair to lead a team of highly skilled forensics operators. Sean is a highly skilled professional, who pulls off his missions by selecting and leading the right team of people for the job. He is flawed, he makes mistakes, pays his dues, and has to find ways to live with the extensive trauma his profession has caused him. The antagonists though, are very much created from scratch in my own mind.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Not really – I tend to write down my ideas in e mails to myself and then I store them in a folder for future reference. Most often I write such ideas down on my daily commute on London tubes, but I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night and write down an idea on a piece of paper.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I love all genres but rarely read romance!
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
My wife – she has some great ideas!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Mali – although it’s very dangerous right now, it’s the epicentre of my next novel. Luckily, I have a couple of friends who are serving out there who feed me photos, newspaper clips, and ideas for my next novel. I haven’t started writing the third yet, but I have the framework of a plot that involves the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and how they will target Europe. Sean and the gang will undertake deniable operations as weapons runners, linking in with the middlemen who are supplying the terrorists across the Sahel, Mali, and sub-Sahara – The conflict will be the Russians involvement, and Sean will have to be sharp to stop devastation on home soil.
Thank you, Michael Jenkins and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.
I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.
I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.
The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.
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