A few friends and followers have asked “How’s the sequel to KILL WITH A BORROWED KNIFE going?” – so here’s a quick update.
Although he’s a few years older, George Quant refuses to take his foot off the accelerator in the (as yet) unnamed novel. Working as a cloak-and-dagger man for Hong Kong’s leading conglomerate, still moonlighting with western intelligence, George is asked to develop a “Leading Personality Report” for his customers.
Relieved to be back in the game, what George uncovers trudging around Malaysia, and then Pakistan’s northern tribal areas, spells bad news for his employer. Before he can act, an event with deadly consequence changes all the rules. An international manhunt gets underway, with no stone left unturned.
Against that backdrop is the establishment of a new China securities joint venture business, the maiden voyage of a new high speed train, and the launch of the Shanghai World Expo. With money, lives, and reputations at stake, George is left wondering if he can sort it all out in time.
I’m a big fan of “Number 1 Bestselling author” Robert Harris, and eagerly devoured Enigma, Fatherland, The Ghost, and Archangel. Judging from some of its reviews, I think I was also one of only a handful of people who genuinely enjoyed The Fear Index.
Having said that, I rather struggled with An Officer and a Spy. The cast was so extensive that with the exception of messieurs Picquart, Henry, Dreyfus and the various ministers, it was hard to know who was who …
Perhaps the idea is to refer to the dramatis personae, but with an e-reader that’s something you can more or less forget. Although undeniably well-written, with a train spotter’s attention to detail, I can’t deny that towards the end I was flagging a little.
It was a pleasure to have recently assisted Thrillerbooksjournal (Twitter: @ThrillBJournal) with my first interview as a published author. You can read it online here: http://bit.ly/1pHNl39
The contribution that Giuseppe and the folks do over there is really important – for mainstream and self-published authors alike. Hats off to them!
As my main character in my novel, journalist George Quant, discovers halfway through “Agent Ai”, as a writer it can feel unusual to find yourself on the receiving end of an interview. At least in my case I wasn’t dealing with an American interrogator …
Discussing motives and influences, wasn’t something that came naturally to me at first; I had to put some through into it. Enjoy the read!
Initially it felt great – the manuscript that took over 18 months to develop has finally hit the Amazon store! Euphoria followed as the book galloped up the Espionage charts, where it settled into the number two position.
With thousands of people now reading my work, what, possibly, could I have to complain about?
Marketing aside, the completion of the project has left a huge void. Where to channel excess creativity to? What if I have a spare 30 minutes? What if I have a great plot concept?
In addition to that, there’s a lingering uneasiness around reviews. Initially these seem positive (several ***** reviews is a pleasing start) – but I accept that not all books are to every reader’s tastes.
I need something to take my mind off it; nothing for it but a sequel!
Two authors writing as one takes quite some discipline. The advantages of having two minds working at the story is that it drives the narrative forward, stimulates an element of friendly competition and also means that there is always someone there to encourage or chase to make things happen. However, there are pitfalls too: the competition and drive need to be kept in check lest they snowball and get out of hand, no one wants to read something terribly exciting but completely preposterous!
One thing that we paid special attention to was the clustering of plot elements and timelines; too little in one then jumping to another can create a fractured, flitting story. Being conscious of this will allow the story to flow more smoothly, and spend enough time in each area or scene before moving on. Working at a distance in different timezones poses its own challenges as many of you will know, so it is important to keep in touch regularly and to talk developments over. And when you do talk things over, be honest. If you’re embarking on a dual-author adventure, we hope these few words will come in useful.
An experienced novelist friend of mine said “a first draft is like weaving cloth, editing is cutting and sewing the garment together from it”. She is quite right. Although it feels like it takes as much blood, sweat, toil and tears as writing the draft in the first place, the result is well worth it. From the material springs a more shapely form, its lines more pleasing, its shape more flattering and it hangs together in an improved way. My advice from this exercise: don’t be afraid to take out the scissors, strictly cut out and trim back, then deftly sew the elements together again. This is the difference between mechanised production and hand tailoring, even in the world of writing.
The Chinese characters at the top “借刀杀人”—or “Kill with a Borrowed Knife”—come from The 36 Stratagems. This historical Chinese essay is an important backdrop in Agent Ai, and each of novel’s chapters (36 in total) quotes one of the stratagems. They tie into the storyline and drive it along.
Binary code. The code represents the digital element of our story—the threat of a powerful cyber weapon. I can’t give away much more than that.
The dark figure with the knife. George Quant is a man on the run. He doesn’t know who to trust and must watch his own back.
The double title. To kill with a borrowed knife: or Agent Ai. Two titles are always better than one—W. Somerset Maugham did it too, with Ashenden: Or the British Agent.
Michael Wreford. For more info on the author, see here.
Thanks to John Amy at http://www.ebookdesigner.co.uk/ for his cooperation.