Related to: 'Find your local bookshop'

riverrun

The Book of Forgotten Authors

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Authors:
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All Things Cease to Appear

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Authors:
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'Ghosts, murder, a terrifying psychotic who seems normal, and beautiful writing. Loved it' Stephen King'Can make you gasp in astonishment or break your heart with a single line' Wall St Journal'Superb. Think a more literary, and feminist, Gone Girl' VogueThis begins the morning Catherine Clare died. The day her daughter spent in the house with her. The evening her husband came home to find her.This becomes the tale of their marriage, and the ones around them. A tale of bonds between families, between lives living and lost and of the lonely ones that share no bonds at all. Who should be pitied. Who must be feared.

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Keep Books on the High Street

Find your local bookshop

Our books are available through most booksellers. Follow the link to find your local chain and independent bookshops - for browsing the good, old-fashioned way.

Keep Books on the High Street

Find your local bookshop

Our books are available through most booksellers. Follow the link to find your local chain and independent bookshops - for browsing the good, old-fashioned way.

Keep Books on the High Street

Find your local bookshop

Our books are available through most booksellers. Follow the link to find your local chain and independent bookshops - for browsing the good, old-fashioned way.

You want it - we've got it

Stocking Fillers

By George, these nifty little books have shot straight to the top of many-a-Christmas-list this year, and are guaranteed to go down well with a mince pie or two. Enid Blyton's books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of her fans. Now, in this new series of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy confront a number of new adult challenges, like finding a decent gluten-free cream tea, surviving an unbearable work strategy away day and navigating the murky waters of parenthood! The Five Go series is available to buy online at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Next on the Chirstmas list we have the book that accompanies the hilarious, massively successful My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: the ultimate, annotated edition of Belinda Blinked. Rocky Flintstone's now-legendary porno (sorry, erotic novel), became a sensation thanks to the outrageously funny podcast created by his son and two friends, who week on week read (and critiqued) chapters of the book. Adored by legions of fans, My Dad Wrote a Porno has been downloaded over ten million times - and we've made it into a steamy book once again. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Up for a challenge in 2017? Why not learn to play the piano? We've got just the book you need - How to Play the Piano by James Rhodes. An accessible and inspiring guide by the pianist and international bestselling writer James Rhodes, who promises that this book gives anyone with two hands, a piano or an electric keyboard and just 45 minutes a day the tools they need to learn to play Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major in 6 weeks, even if they know nothing about music and have never even touched a piano before. Available at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Dust off your axes, it's back! The interactive follow up to last year's Christmas sensation Norwegian Wood is available to anyone looking ro get crafty this Christmas. An original gift for all seasons and the perfect fireside companion, The Norwegian Wood Activity Book, with it's bespoke wooden finish, will bring warmth and entertainment to armchair enthusiasts and active woodcutters alike. Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon, Wordery and from your local indepdent bookshop. The Most Wondeful Time of the Year is a hilarious and heartwarming Christmas comedy from Joanna Bolouri, the bestselling author of The List. It's perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Kat French and Lindsey Kelk, and will have you laughing all the way to New Year! Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. What is more irresistible than an adorable puppy looking for a home and a family to love him? NOT MUCH! The Christmas Guest is a touching story of Teddy, the little lost puppy who appears on a family's doorstep covered in snow just before Christmas. Turns out, the family need Teddy as much as he needs them,and they might just have made each others Christmas wishes come true. Available to buy at Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without a kitsch novelty knit - now you can make your own with these, fast, easy, no-knit ideas for one-of-a-kind Christmas jumpers. Make Your Own Christmas Jumper by super-crafter and blogger Nicolette Lafonseca is a wonderful gift for that crafty someone. With all styles covered - be it glitzy and glam, twee and tasteless, laugh-out-loud or cute as a button - you're sure to find your perfect Christmas look, not to mention all the sequins, pompoms and twinkly lights your heart could desire. Available to buy from Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop.

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From snowy dogs to chopping logs - we've got something for everyone this Christmas!

Stocking Fillers

By George, these nifty little books have shot straight to the top of many-a-Christmas-list this year, and are guaranteed to go down well with a mince pie or two. Enid Blyton's books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of her fans. Now, in this new series of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy confront a number of new adult challenges, like finding a decent gluten-free cream tea, surviving an unbearable work strategy away day and navigating the murky waters of parenthood! The Five Go series is available to buy online at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Next on the Chirstmas list we have the book that accompanies the hilarious, massively successful My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: the ultimate, annotated edition of Belinda Blinked. Rocky Flintstone's now-legendary porno (sorry, erotic novel), became a sensation thanks to the outrageously funny podcast created by his son and two friends, who week on week read (and critiqued) chapters of the book. Adored by legions of fans, My Dad Wrote a Porno has been downloaded over ten million times - and we've made it into a steamy book once again. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Up for a challenge in 2017? Why not learn to play the piano? We've got just the book you need - How to Play the Piano by James Rhodes. An accessible and inspiring guide by the pianist and international bestselling writer James Rhodes, who promises that this book gives anyone with two hands, a piano or an electric keyboard and just 45 minutes a day the tools they need to learn to play Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major in 6 weeks, even if they know nothing about music and have never even touched a piano before. Available at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Dust off your axes, it's back! The interactive follow up to last year's Christmas sensation Norwegian Wood is available to anyone looking ro get crafty this Christmas. An original gift for all seasons and the perfect fireside companion, The Norwegian Wood Activity Book, with it's bespoke wooden finish, will bring warmth and entertainment to armchair enthusiasts and active woodcutters alike. Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon, Wordery and from your local indepdent bookshop. The Most Wondeful Time of the Year is a hilarious and heartwarming Christmas comedy from Joanna Bolouri, the bestselling author of The List. It's perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Kat French and Lindsey Kelk, and will have you laughing all the way to New Year! Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. What is more irresistible than an adorable puppy looking for a home and a family to love him? NOT MUCH! The Christmas Guest is a touching story of Teddy, the little lost puppy who appears on a family's doorstep covered in snow just before Christmas. Turns out, the family need Teddy as much as he needs them, and they might just have made each others Christmas wishes come true. Available to buy at Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without a kitsch novelty knit - now you can make your own with these, fast, easy, no-knit ideas for one-of-a-kind Christmas jumpers. Make Your Own Christmas Jumper by super-crafter and blogger Nicolette Lafonseca is a wonderful gift for that crafty someone. With all styles covered - be it glitzy and glam, twee and tasteless, laugh-out-loud or cute as a button - you're sure to find your perfect Christmas look, not to mention all the sequins, pompoms and twinkly lights your heart could desire. Available to buy from Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop.

Q&A with Andreas Norman

If there was a film of Into A Raging Blaze, who do you think would play the main characters of Bente Jensen, the Secret Service Head, and Carina Dymek, the civil servant on the run? Well, the Swedish original of Into A Raging Blaze (En rasande eld), is actually being adapted for bigscreen right now by a major Swedish film company. They are right now starting to cast it! But then of course, Bente and Carina will be played by Swedish actors. In a British remake I would love to see a character actress like Jodie Foster or Imelda Staunton play Bente, who could take on that utterly unsentimental, tough-minded, no-nonsense type of woman. Carina – I think Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emily Blunt or Sarah Solemani would be perfect for the role. Brainy actresses with a lot of energy. You worked in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ten years in Counter-terrorism and Security. Can you tell us anything about the kinds of projects you worked on, and what it was like? They were mainly projects launched to prevent further terrorism – in other words, the recruitment and radicalisation of individuals and groups in countries around the world. I can't tell you much more, it is all very classified information; other than that we worked in partnership with other countries on this, and their police forces, intelligence agencies as well as various local non-governmental organisations. Our main slogan was: counter-terrorism without the respect for human rights is counter-productive. That was a one-liner I came up with, actually, in order to easily convey the Swedish view on these matters. And I still believe that it is absolutely valid. If you violate people's basic rights, you will end up with more politically motivated violence, and that is unfortunately what is happening today in, for example, Pakistan and many other places around the world today. How much is the diplomatic service as portrayed in the novel based on your experience of that world? The descriptions of the Ministry’s interior and other places are absolutely authentic; you could use the book for a guided tour around the Swedish MFA and the Government offices! If you ever visit the pub Pickwick’s on the corner of Fredsgatan and Drottninggatan in Stockholm, where all the civil servants hang out after work, look out for the elk head hanging on the inner wall. You'll find that place, and all other locations in the book exactly as I describe them. It was great fun to portray my workplace and the people in it. There are such a wealth of stories and characters in the diplomatic and intelligence community, that for most of the time remain untold, unseen, due to the secrecy that surrounds the trade. At the same time, there’s a lot that is universal which every person who spends their days in an office can easily relate to: the struggle for having an office with a nice view, the byzantine procedure for requisitioning an ergonomic chair, the career angst, all that. You left the Ministry to become a full time writer. What do your former colleagues think of the novel? Were you worried about revealing any government secrets? They think it’s great! I was surprised and happy to get so many positive reactions from colleagues in the MFA. Dozens of ambassadors and desk officers from all over the world have emailed me to congratulate me on what they felt was both a very entertaining and wholly accurate panorama of the rather absurd everyday life in the foreign service. I think many felt that, for once, their profession and work life had been portrayed in an authentic way. I wasn't worried for a second that I would reveal any secrets. I'm so used to handling classified information, you know, and the people in the ministry knows that. But just to be sure, I actually read my first draft as if I were looking for intelligence, classified procedures, etc. In some cases I obscured one or two details to make sure that Into A Raging Blaze would be useless – as intelligence, I mean. Your novel has a plot point whereby British agencies and GCHQ use cyber-spying to access private communications in European countries, even from governments. Was this based on fact when you wrote it, and if so, how did you come across the information? Sure, this is common practice. Just look at what Snowden revealed: NSA tapping the mobile phones of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. My book basically outlines GCHQ’s mass surveillance programme code-named Tempora. I was not aware of the code name at the time I wrote the book, but knew something like this existed. That was in 2009. It was also in this period that NSA got enormously enhanced capacities to collect and store data, and later, to mine them. They were building big new facilities in Utah for data storage. As part of my job in the Foreign Ministry, I had the opportunity to learn how the signals intelligence agencies were organised, their methods, their technology. It was top secret back then; now you can find all about it on Google in an instant. Since you wrote the novel and it was published in Sweden, the world woke up to the same reality when Julian Assange published Edward Snowden’s leaked documents. What was the reaction to your book when this happened? A lot of readers were surprised by how close to reality my book actually was. Everyone who read it reacted with, ‘Wow, did you know about all this?’ Especially since the depth of the partnerships between NSA, GCHQ and the Swedish signals intelligence agency FRA was revealed later that year. Then even political op ed's in the main Swedish papers started using my book as a starting point for discussing the surveillance scandal, which thrilled me. The Swedish agency took a lot of criticism for being mixed up in the mass surveillance revealed by Snowden, and my story pointed towards precisely this partnership. It´s called Five Eyes, by the way. Al Gore has now come out in support of Snowden. What do you think of Snowden’s and Assange’s actions, and the reaction to them? I completely agree with Al Gore's statement. Snowden has done everyone a great service. Leaking classified information is always damaging someone, and sure, if it’s being revealed to the public, there is a risk of jeopardizing national security or hampering operations that can save lives. But when state agencies like the NSA or GCHQ operate massive systems that violate the basic civil rights of millions of innocent people, and do so without any democratic control, you end up with a state within the state; an omnipotent machine working outside the boundaries of democratic society, and that is very dangerous. That cannot be tolerated in an open, democratic, rule of law-based society. Assange created the platform for leaks, and Snowden provided the content. How uncomfortable it ever may be for state agencies and corporate executives, I think society will always need whistle-blowers like them. That the intelligence community reacts with horror is no surprise. Disappointing, but not a surprise at all, is the way the Obama administration is pursuing whistle-blowers like Snowden and Manning, in spite of their rethoric about openness. What is most worrying is the complacency of the public. But I think this is due to the fact that we, the ordinary internet users, have no alternative to the internet. Even though our digital lives are being monitored we have no real way to protest, since you can't really say, ‘Hey, I'll stop using the internet and go buy some other product!’ In a way, it shows the limits of consumer power. What is needed are sound state policies that put citizen rights first. The leaked documents in your novel are plans for a Europe-wide intelligence service that would not only cross borders, but skirt national and international law in the name of counter-terrorism. Are there any signs that this is a real possibility, and what would you consider are the major risks of such an operation? The idea came to me when I learned about the US drone warfare in Pakistan. There you have exactly this situation. The US Air Force fly thousands of drone missions for the CIA over Pakistan every year. They fly wherever they want, target whomever they want, regardless of Pakistani law, and probably also in violation of international law. What if drone missions were carried out over UK soil, with the silent approval of the British government and the EU? That is the question I hope my book raises. Even more chilling is that the US administration also targets its own citizens, putting not only foreigners but Americans on so-called 'kill lists'. This practice not only violates basic rights of individuals, but weakens the judicial system, and corrodes the trust we put in our governments. It's a disturbing development. Your fictional ‘European Intelligence Service’ had a clause allowing American services to launch attacks within European borders if they could justify a potential threat. Your novel shows convincing ‘threats’ can easily be created from little evidence. Do you think that US intelligence services pushes the boundaries of acceptable strategy, and how much are European services in thrall to them? Yes, well, you know, intelligence services are masters of fabrication and betrayal. To fabricate ‘threats’ to support wars and other foreign policy adventures are textbook tactics. Just think of the introduction to the Iraqi war, and the massive fabrication of ‘threats’ back then. Or the last and current US administration's circumvention of international law, in order to justify huge counter-terrorism operations. Today, the Obama administration have moved more towards extrajudicial assinations, drones and special forces operations, and the CIA, together with parts of the US military, like the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have turned into smooth war machines. What if it would lie in the interests of the US to launch the same counter-terrorism operations they carry out in Afghanistan or northern Pakistan in the heart of Europe, and the EU would condone it? That question lies at the core of my book. It's fiction, but at the same close to reality. Because all intelligence services depend more or less on each other. You trade intel, you build alliances. The US service is the most powerful player, simply on the strength of their vast capacities. They can push boundaries to fit their objectives and cooperate with European services when it serves their interests. The Brits have a privileged position in this business, being very close to the US system, whereas the Swedes are just a minor, but useful partner. As I put it in Into A Raging Blaze: the Brits and Americans create the weather of tomorrow, while the Swedes are forced to guess the forecast. In the novel, a young Egyptian-born civil servant in the Swedish Ministry of Justice is suspected of being linked to a terrorist cell. How much do you think immigrated Arabs, North Africans and people of Islamic origin are at risk of being unjustly persecuted? Or is paranoia justified in the face of a terrorist threat? Intelligence services nurture professional paranoia, and rightly so; it’s part of their job description to be suspicious. But in the today’s era of counter-terrorism, with its strong focus on Islamic fundamentalism, whole Muslim minorities run the risk of being regarded as a ‘problem’, or an environment conducive to political violence and terrorism. When a security service try to pin down someone who might pose a terrorist threat, a large number of people are screened, which is standard procedure for all investigations. The problem is, with the mass surveillance currently in use, it is possible to screen literally millions, which means that whole populations of Muslims or immigrants – for example, everyone in the UK with the surename ‘Mohammad’ – could be routinely monitored. This is a depressing reality, and adds to the strong islamophobic tendencies we witness in Europe today. In the UK, John Le Carré’s novels were instrumental in forming the spy compromised group in opposition to the realpolitik practices of ‘big brother’ CIA. In your novel there’s a similar relationship, but between the Swedish and British, relatively. Is this a realistic portrayal? Yes, absolutely! The only difference is, Swedes are nicer because they are weaker and further down the food chain in global politics. If Swedish services had the same spying capacity as the colleagues in Vauxhall, not to mention Langley, they would be meaner, I'm sure. But there are historic reasons as well to why Swedish services are less ruthless than their AngloSaxon counterparts: we have not been forced to fight for our survival in World War II or fight terrorism at home; we have no recent colonial history, no real ambition to dominate the world – other than perhaps through exports of pop music, cars and crime novels. Swedish intelligence services are just small, efficient sub-suppliers in the global security business. It’s funny you mention LeCarré, since his latest novel A Delicate Truth is quite a turnaround where he portrays the British government and the MI6 as the corrupt and morally rotten ones, don't you agree? I hope Mr LeCarré nods in approval of my portrayal of the Swedish-British relationship. The recent European elections saw a surge in extreme right-wing groups gaining votes. Why do you think this is, and how might it affect counter-terrorism and relationships between diplomatic services? Oh, I just get depressed when I think about the recent EU-parliament election . . .The reasons for this can probably be found in the recent economic recession that plagued many European countries since the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008. Europe is being strongly affected by globalization, and financial crises with immediate repercussions in national economies, resulting in redunduncies and harsher everyday lives for a lot of people. This generates fear and hatred. When citizens don't feel that there is a social contract anymore, that there is no state to provide them with basic services, there is always a temptation to join the populist chant. It’s easy to blame immigrants, or a weak minority with no voice, like the Roma. Fascism offers a tempting dream of unity and strength. It’s an enthusiastic ideology, selling easy solutions. Unfortunately, a lot of people are lost in this dream nowadays. To diplomats, the appearance of right-wing extremists in leading positions around Europe complicates bilateral relations. Some relations will become frosty, new alliances will be made. For example, a social liberal democracy like Sweden cannot rely on support from Hungary or Denmark in the EU-council for its view on migration. And so on. For professionals in the intelligence services, an increase of militant right-wing extremists of course means more work, and in the long-term perhaps also a shift towards monitoring right-wing terrorist networks more closely. After the Utöya massacre and the bombing of the Norwegian government offices in 2012, this has certainly been the case with Norwegian and Swedish security services. What are you writing next? I have a book out in autumn, 9,3 på Richterskalan (9,3 on the Richter scale). It's an eyewitness account of my days in Thailand after the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. I was sent to Thailand as a member of some one the first response teams, being a young diplomat who just entered the service. My publisher calls it a harrowing read, I suppose it is. Right now, I'm writing the sequel to Into A Raging Blaze. You'll see more of Bente Jensen, this time in a family crisis with lethal consequences. Surveillance, counter-espionage, deadly lies and deception, all against the backdrop of the recent Crimea crisis. That’s about all I can tell you, the rest is classified!

His ideas and inspirations behind Into A Raging Blaze

Q&A with Andreas Norman

If there was a film of Into A Raging Blaze, who do you think would play the main characters of Bente Jensen, the Secret Service Head, and Carina Dymek, the civil servant on the run? Well, the Swedish original of Into A Raging Blaze (En rasande eld), is actually being adapted for bigscreen right now by a major Swedish film company. They are right now starting to cast it! But then of course, Bente and Carina will be played by Swedish actors. In a British remake I would love to see a character actress like Jodie Foster or Imelda Staunton play Bente, who could take on that utterly unsentimental, tough-minded, no-nonsense type of woman. Carina – I think Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emily Blunt or Sarah Solemani would be perfect for the role. Brainy actresses with a lot of energy. You worked in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ten years in Counter-terrorism and Security. Can you tell us anything about the kinds of projects you worked on, and what it was like? They were mainly projects launched to prevent further terrorism – in other words, the recruitment and radicalisation of individuals and groups in countries around the world. I can't tell you much more, it is all very classified information; other than that we worked in partnership with other countries on this, and their police forces, intelligence agencies as well as various local non-governmental organisations. Our main slogan was: counter-terrorism without the respect for human rights is counter-productive. That was a one-liner I came up with, actually, in order to easily convey the Swedish view on these matters. And I still believe that it is absolutely valid. If you violate people's basic rights, you will end up with more politically motivated violence, and that is unfortunately what is happening today in, for example, Pakistan and many other places around the world today. How much is the diplomatic service as portrayed in the novel based on your experience of that world? The descriptions of the Ministry’s interior and other places are absolutely authentic; you could use the book for a guided tour around the Swedish MFA and the Government offices! If you ever visit the pub Pickwick’s on the corner of Fredsgatan and Drottninggatan in Stockholm, where all the civil servants hang out after work, look out for the elk head hanging on the inner wall. You'll find that place, and all other locations in the book exactly as I describe them. It was great fun to portray my workplace and the people in it. There are such a wealth of stories and characters in the diplomatic and intelligence community, that for most of the time remain untold, unseen, due to the secrecy that surrounds the trade. At the same time, there’s a lot that is universal which every person who spends their days in an office can easily relate to: the struggle for having an office with a nice view, the byzantine procedure for requisitioning an ergonomic chair, the career angst, all that. You left the Ministry to become a full time writer. What do your former colleagues think of the novel? Were you worried about revealing any government secrets? They think it’s great! I was surprised and happy to get so many positive reactions from colleagues in the MFA. Dozens of ambassadors and desk officers from all over the world have emailed me to congratulate me on what they felt was both a very entertaining and wholly accurate panorama of the rather absurd everyday life in the foreign service. I think many felt that, for once, their profession and work life had been portrayed in an authentic way. I wasn't worried for a second that I would reveal any secrets. I'm so used to handling classified information, you know, and the people in the ministry knows that. But just to be sure, I actually read my first draft as if I were looking for intelligence, classified procedures, etc. In some cases I obscured one or two details to make sure that Into A Raging Blaze would be useless – as intelligence, I mean. Your novel has a plot point whereby British agencies and GCHQ use cyber-spying to access private communications in European countries, even from governments. Was this based on fact when you wrote it, and if so, how did you come across the information? Sure, this is common practice. Just look at what Snowden revealed: NSA tapping the mobile phones of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. My book basically outlines GCHQ’s mass surveillance programme code-named Tempora. I was not aware of the code name at the time I wrote the book, but knew something like this existed. That was in 2009. It was also in this period that NSA got enormously enhanced capacities to collect and store data, and later, to mine them. They were building big new facilities in Utah for data storage. As part of my job in the Foreign Ministry, I had the opportunity to learn how the signals intelligence agencies were organised, their methods, their technology. It was top secret back then; now you can find all about it on Google in an instant. Since you wrote the novel and it was published in Sweden, the world woke up to the same reality when Julian Assange published Edward Snowden’s leaked documents. What was the reaction to your book when this happened? A lot of readers were surprised by how close to reality my book actually was. Everyone who read it reacted with, ‘Wow, did you know about all this?’ Especially since the depth of the partnerships between NSA, GCHQ and the Swedish signals intelligence agency FRA was revealed later that year. Then even political op ed's in the main Swedish papers started using my book as a starting point for discussing the surveillance scandal, which thrilled me. The Swedish agency took a lot of criticism for being mixed up in the mass surveillance revealed by Snowden, and my story pointed towards precisely this partnership. It´s called Five Eyes, by the way. Al Gore has now come out in support of Snowden. What do you think of Snowden’s and Assange’s actions, and the reaction to them? I completely agree with Al Gore's statement. Snowden has done everyone a great service. Leaking classified information is always damaging someone, and sure, if it’s being revealed to the public, there is a risk of jeopardizing national security or hampering operations that can save lives. But when state agencies like the NSA or GCHQ operate massive systems that violate the basic civil rights of millions of innocent people, and do so without any democratic control, you end up with a state within the state; an omnipotent machine working outside the boundaries of democratic society, and that is very dangerous. That cannot be tolerated in an open, democratic, rule of law-based society. Assange created the platform for leaks, and Snowden provided the content. How uncomfortable it ever may be for state agencies and corporate executives, I think society will always need whistle-blowers like them. That the intelligence community reacts with horror is no surprise. Disappointing, but not a surprise at all, is the way the Obama administration is pursuing whistle-blowers like Snowden and Manning, in spite of their rethoric about openness. What is most worrying is the complacency of the public. But I think this is due to the fact that we, the ordinary internet users, have no alternative to the internet. Even though our digital lives are being monitored we have no real way to protest, since you can't really say, ‘Hey, I'll stop using the internet and go buy some other product!’ In a way, it shows the limits of consumer power. What is needed are sound state policies that put citizen rights first. The leaked documents in your novel are plans for a Europe-wide intelligence service that would not only cross borders, but skirt national and international law in the name of counter-terrorism. Are there any signs that this is a real possibility, and what would you consider are the major risks of such an operation? The idea came to me when I learned about the US drone warfare in Pakistan. There you have exactly this situation. The US Air Force fly thousands of drone missions for the CIA over Pakistan every year. They fly wherever they want, target whomever they want, regardless of Pakistani law, and probably also in violation of international law. What if drone missions were carried out over UK soil, with the silent approval of the British government and the EU? That is the question I hope my book raises. Even more chilling is that the US administration also targets its own citizens, putting not only foreigners but Americans on so-called 'kill lists'. This practice not only violates basic rights of individuals, but weakens the judicial system, and corrodes the trust we put in our governments. It's a disturbing development. Your fictional ‘European Intelligence Service’ had a clause allowing American services to launch attacks within European borders if they could justify a potential threat. Your novel shows convincing ‘threats’ can easily be created from little evidence. Do you think that US intelligence services pushes the boundaries of acceptable strategy, and how much are European services in thrall to them? Yes, well, you know, intelligence services are masters of fabrication and betrayal. To fabricate ‘threats’ to support wars and other foreign policy adventures are textbook tactics. Just think of the introduction to the Iraqi war, and the massive fabrication of ‘threats’ back then. Or the last and current US administration's circumvention of international law, in order to justify huge counter-terrorism operations. Today, the Obama administration have moved more towards extrajudicial assinations, drones and special forces operations, and the CIA, together with parts of the US military, like the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have turned into smooth war machines. What if it would lie in the interests of the US to launch the same counter-terrorism operations they carry out in Afghanistan or northern Pakistan in the heart of Europe, and the EU would condone it? That question lies at the core of my book. It's fiction, but at the same close to reality. Because all intelligence services depend more or less on each other. You trade intel, you build alliances. The US service is the most powerful player, simply on the strength of their vast capacities. They can push boundaries to fit their objectives and cooperate with European services when it serves their interests. The Brits have a privileged position in this business, being very close to the US system, whereas the Swedes are just a minor, but useful partner. As I put it in Into A Raging Blaze: the Brits and Americans create the weather of tomorrow, while the Swedes are forced to guess the forecast. In the novel, a young Egyptian-born civil servant in the Swedish Ministry of Justice is suspected of being linked to a terrorist cell. How much do you think immigrated Arabs, North Africans and people of Islamic origin are at risk of being unjustly persecuted? Or is paranoia justified in the face of a terrorist threat? Intelligence services nurture professional paranoia, and rightly so; it’s part of their job description to be suspicious. But in the today’s era of counter-terrorism, with its strong focus on Islamic fundamentalism, whole Muslim minorities run the risk of being regarded as a ‘problem’, or an environment conducive to political violence and terrorism. When a security service try to pin down someone who might pose a terrorist threat, a large number of people are screened, which is standard procedure for all investigations. The problem is, with the mass surveillance currently in use, it is possible to screen literally millions, which means that whole populations of Muslims or immigrants – for example, everyone in the UK with the surename ‘Mohammad’ – could be routinely monitored. This is a depressing reality, and adds to the strong islamophobic tendencies we witness in Europe today. In the UK, John Le Carré’s novels were instrumental in forming the spy compromised group in opposition to the realpolitik practices of ‘big brother’ CIA. In your novel there’s a similar relationship, but between the Swedish and British, relatively. Is this a realistic portrayal? Yes, absolutely! The only difference is, Swedes are nicer because they are weaker and further down the food chain in global politics. If Swedish services had the same spying capacity as the colleagues in Vauxhall, not to mention Langley, they would be meaner, I'm sure. But there are historic reasons as well to why Swedish services are less ruthless than their AngloSaxon counterparts: we have not been forced to fight for our survival in World War II or fight terrorism at home; we have no recent colonial history, no real ambition to dominate the world – other than perhaps through exports of pop music, cars and crime novels. Swedish intelligence services are just small, efficient sub-suppliers in the global security business. It’s funny you mention LeCarré, since his latest novel A Delicate Truth is quite a turnaround where he portrays the British government and the MI6 as the corrupt and morally rotten ones, don't you agree? I hope Mr LeCarré nods in approval of my portrayal of the Swedish-British relationship. The recent European elections saw a surge in extreme right-wing groups gaining votes. Why do you think this is, and how might it affect counter-terrorism and relationships between diplomatic services? Oh, I just get depressed when I think about the recent EU-parliament election . . .The reasons for this can probably be found in the recent economic recession that plagued many European countries since the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008. Europe is being strongly affected by globalization, and financial crises with immediate repercussions in national economies, resulting in redunduncies and harsher everyday lives for a lot of people. This generates fear and hatred. When citizens don't feel that there is a social contract anymore, that there is no state to provide them with basic services, there is always a temptation to join the populist chant. It’s easy to blame immigrants, or a weak minority with no voice, like the Roma. Fascism offers a tempting dream of unity and strength. It’s an enthusiastic ideology, selling easy solutions. Unfortunately, a lot of people are lost in this dream nowadays. To diplomats, the appearance of right-wing extremists in leading positions around Europe complicates bilateral relations. Some relations will become frosty, new alliances will be made. For example, a social liberal democracy like Sweden cannot rely on support from Hungary or Denmark in the EU-council for its view on migration. And so on. For professionals in the intelligence services, an increase of militant right-wing extremists of course means more work, and in the long-term perhaps also a shift towards monitoring right-wing terrorist networks more closely. After the Utöya massacre and the bombing of the Norwegian government offices in 2012, this has certainly been the case with Norwegian and Swedish security services. What are you writing next? I have a book out in autumn, 9,3 på Richterskalan (9,3 on the Richter scale). It's an eyewitness account of my days in Thailand after the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. I was sent to Thailand as a member of some one the first response teams, being a young diplomat who just entered the service. My publisher calls it a harrowing read, I suppose it is. Right now, I'm writing the sequel to Into A Raging Blaze. You'll see more of Bente Jensen, this time in a family crisis with lethal consequences. Surveillance, counter-espionage, deadly lies and deception, all against the backdrop of the recent Crimea crisis. That’s about all I can tell you, the rest is classified!

Beautiful fiction and bespoke non-fiction

Have a Classy Christmas

UNDER A POLE STAR Stef Penney returns to the wild Arctic landscape she portrayed so beautifully in her debut The Tenderness of Wolves, to bring us the story of ‘The Snow Queen’ Flora Mackie and her Geologist beau Jakob de Beyn. Their paths cross on the frozen landscape of Greenland whilst on opposing expeditions, yet they have an instant connection that has the power to transcend any distance between them. A passionate love affair, and a couple of trips back to the North later, and it seems nothing can tear Flora and Jakob apart. Until… Set against the stark, timeless beauty of northern Greenland, and fin-de-siècle New York and London, Under a Pole Star is a compelling look at the dark side of the ‘golden age’ of exploration, a study of the corrosive power of ambition, and an epic, incendiary love story. It shows that sometimes you have to travel to the furthest edge of the world in order to find your true place in it. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon, Hive and from your local indepdendent bookshop. THE BOOK OF TIDES An idiosyncratic, richly illustrated guide to Britain's rivers, seas and shores, for everyone who loves the water and the natural world - a Norwegian Wood for Britain's waters. Both graphically beautiful and lyrically written, The Book of Tides is a unique and essential book, ideal for anyone who knows and loves the British coast, and who wants to understand, discover, surf, or sail it better. Inspired by his own witnessing of the power of the sea through travelling around Britain's coastline in a panel van with his young family, William Thomson tells the story of the cycles of the sea. He combines a lyrical, passionate narrative with graphically beautiful renderings of the main forms of water which affect Britain: Rip, Rapids, Swell, Stream, Tide, Wave, Whirlpool, Tsunami. Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdent bookshop. (photo credit: West End Lane Books) BILL BAILEY'S REMARKABLE GUIDE TO BRITISH BIRDS Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to British Birds is all about comedian Bailey's love of birds. A visual feast - it is packed with illustrations, sketches and notes by Bailey - as well as informative, it is funny and insightful, and positively crackles with energy, knowledge and wit as he takes us on a journey around the British isles, zooming in on those birds that enthuse him the most. A beautifully and originally designed hardback, it will delight Bailey's fans as well as those who like a bit of armchair escapism. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon, Hive and from your local independent bookshop THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF NOT GIVING A F**K: CHRISTMAS EDITION It was the 'self help with an edge' book of 2016 (Vogue said that, so you know this thing's legit) - and now it's back with a gorgeous new jacket to help you give fewer, better f**ks this Christmas! A genius parody of the bestselling The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Sarah Knight's no nonsense guide to focussing on the things in your life that make you happy, and giving way less of your time and energy to the things that don't, will help to revolutionalise your thinking. From family dramas to having a bikini body, the simple 'NotSorry Method' for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f**k and will free you to spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter. This festive red edition will sit perfectly in any stocking, and would make an ideal office secret santa gift for that stressed colleague... Available to buy from Waterstones, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. NO PICNIC ON MOUNT KENYA A classic tale of derring-do: The Great Escape meets Touching the Void No Picnic on Mount Kenya is a rediscovered mountaineering classic and the extraordinary true story of a daring escape up Mount Kenya by three prisoners of war. It's a remarkable story of three incredibly brave men with an outrageous, dangerous, brilliant idea. It is also a powerful testament to the human spirit of revolt and adventure in even the darkest of places. A Waterstones non-fiction Book of the Month, No Picnic on Mount Kenya is a terrific gift for the adventurous type, yet equally for the armchair traveller! Available to buy from Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. NORWEGIAN WOOD Whether you're a seasoned woodcutter, or your passion is yet to be kindled, Norwegian Wood is the perfect fireside read, and an ideal seasonal gift. Last year's runaway bestseller is back to take over Christmas once again! Teaching you everything you need to know about chopping, stacking and drying wood - the Scandinavian way - this is truly 'a how-to book with poetry at its heart'(TLS). For Lars Mytting, our relationship to fire is so ancient, so universal, it seems that in learning about wood, you can also learn about life. Available to but at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. (photo credit: Abrams Books)

When looking for that special someone, we've put in the extra effort so you don't have to!

Have a Classy Christmas

UNDER A POLE STAR Stef Penney returns to the wild Arctic landscape she portrayed so beautifully in her debut The Tenderness of Wolves, to bring us the story of ‘The Snow Queen’ Flora Mackie and her Geologist beau Jakob de Beyn. Their paths cross on the frozen landscape of Greenland whilst on opposing expeditions, yet they have an instant connection that has the power to transcend any distance between them. A passionate love affair, and a couple of trips back to the North later, and it seems nothing can tear Flora and Jakob apart. Until… Set against the stark, timeless beauty of northern Greenland, and fin-de-siècle New York and London, Under a Pole Star is a compelling look at the dark side of the ‘golden age’ of exploration, a study of the corrosive power of ambition, and an epic, incendiary love story. It shows that sometimes you have to travel to the furthest edge of the world in order to find your true place in it. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon, Hive and from your local indepdendent bookshop. THE BOOK OF TIDES An idiosyncratic, richly illustrated guide to Britain's rivers, seas and shores, for everyone who loves the water and the natural world - a Norwegian Wood for Britain's waters. Both graphically beautiful and lyrically written, The Book of Tides is a unique and essential book, ideal for anyone who knows and loves the British coast, and who wants to understand, discover, surf, or sail it better. Inspired by his own witnessing of the power of the sea through travelling around Britain's coastline in a panel van with his young family, William Thomson tells the story of the cycles of the sea. He combines a lyrical, passionate narrative with graphically beautiful renderings of the main forms of water which affect Britain: Rip, Rapids, Swell, Stream, Tide, Wave, Whirlpool, Tsunami. Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdent bookshop. (photo credit: West End Lane Books) BILL BAILEY'S REMARKABLE GUIDE TO BRITISH BIRDS Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to British Birds is all about comedian Bailey's love of birds. A visual feast - it is packed with illustrations, sketches and notes by Bailey - as well as informative, it is funny and insightful, and positively crackles with energy, knowledge and wit as he takes us on a journey around the British isles, zooming in on those birds that enthuse him the most. A beautifully and originally designed hardback, it will delight Bailey's fans as well as those who like a bit of armchair escapism. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon, Hive and from your local independent bookshop THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF NOT GIVING A F**K: CHRISTMAS EDITION It was the 'self help with an edge' book of 2016 (Vogue said that, so you know this thing's legit) - and now it's back with a gorgeous new jacket to help you give fewer, better f**ks this Christmas! A genius parody of the bestselling The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Sarah Knight's no nonsense guide to focussing on the things in your life that make you happy, and giving way less of your time and energy to the things that don't, will help to revolutionalise your thinking. From family dramas to having a bikini body, the simple 'NotSorry Method' for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f**k and will free you to spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter. This festive red edition will sit perfectly in any stocking, and would make an ideal office secret santa gift for that stressed colleague... Available to buy from Waterstones, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. NO PICNIC ON MOUNT KENYA A classic tale of derring-do: The Great Escape meets Touching the Void No Picnic on Mount Kenya is a rediscovered mountaineering classic and the extraordinary true story of a daring escape up Mount Kenya by three prisoners of war. It's a remarkable story of three incredibly brave men with an outrageous, dangerous, brilliant idea. It is also a powerful testament to the human spirit of revolt and adventure in even the darkest of places. A Waterstones non-fiction Book of the Month, No Picnic on Mount Kenya is a terrific gift for the adventurous type, yet equally for the armchair traveller! Available to buy from

Jessica Cornwell talks about her inspiration for writing her new novel, The Serpent Papers.

Writing The Serpent Papers

When I set out to write a novel, the first thing I encountered in the dark recess of my imagination was a man. His name was Ferran Fons, and he was a lonely, aging, professor at a drama school in Barcelona. Fons had an office window facing the theatre across the courtyard and so he spent the majority of his day staring at an enormous poster hanging from the wall of the building. The poster featured a portrait of a beautiful young woman. Her name – I knew in a flash – was Natalia Hernandez. And very soon she was going to die. In the weeks and months following my discovery of Natalia Hernandez, I found myself writing a mystery. New characters sprang into being – the irascible Inspector Fabregat with his love of rich food and distaste for murder – tormented by the unsolved deaths of four young women, bodies tattooed with cryptic letters, tongues cut from their mouths. Next came Rex Illuminatus: a thirteenth century Majorcan mystic who hid The Serpent Papers beneath an alchemical scrawl, secreting away an ancient manuscript written in the language of witches. Anna Verco presented herself as a young, American academic whose psychic abilities and quest to find the Serpent Papers lead her into the drawing room of Inspector Fabregat… a decade after the murder of Natalia Hernandez. I had not set out to write a thriller, but suddenly I was. Not only that, but I knew, without doubt, upon finding Anna, that I was also writing a trilogy. I read and reread the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While making notes in the margin of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, I repeatedly returned to Wilkie Collin’s The Moonstone and the gothic novels of Horace Walpole and Mary Shelley. I wanted to write a contemporary thriller that had its roots in nineteenth century crime, so I analyzed the structure of the gothic novel, and decided that the first pulp books had evolved into vampire stories and then into serial killer narratives. I set the book in Barcelona’s gothic quarters, with its air of supernatural menace. Amidst the distinct flavor of an old, and violent, fairy tale – I saw Anna Vero driving the action forward. I loved her feminism, her single mindedness, her independence and focus, and how little she wanted to share of herself. Anna takes her lead from The Killing’s Sarah Lund, The Bridge’s Saga Norén (with whom I am completely obsessed) and Lisbeth Salander – the queens of Scandi Noir – but she’s also a very different interpretation of the genre’s damaged ‘woman detective’ or female protagonist. She blends the supernatural and the hyper-real, and in that way I think she’s quite original – and genre-bending. She also consistently surprises me, leading me on unexpected adventures into Palaeography courses at Senate House in London, the Manuscript room at the British Library, and up rocky Majorcan trails in the pouring rain. Throughout, Anna Verco remains deliciously, autonomously her own.

Peter May tells us all about what led him to write his latest book, Runaway.

Peter May - my inspiration for Runaway

The story itself, obviously, drew its inspiration from the real runaway events, which actually took place in 1969. The characters drew their inspiration from different sources. Jack is partially based on myself. “Jobby” Jeff was loosely based on our then drummer, whose almost every sentence was punctuated by the word “jobbies”. Luke Sharp took his name from a childhood friend of my father (what were his parents thinking of), and his circumstance from another of my father’s friends called Johnny Main. Johnny’s parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses and had dragged him around the doors with them for years. He ran away to the south when he was fifteen and never came back. But my father never lost touch with him, and I remember visiting him in Kent on a trip to France in the 1980s. Maurie’s Jewish background was based on my experiences of virtually growing up with Stephen and his family, and the whole community of Glasgow south-side Jews which existed during my childhood. And Dave was loosely based on a friend whose acquaintance I made during my short time at the DNS. He was hugely into music, and we would often meet at the Maryland Blues Club, in Scott Street, beside the Art School. However, cannabis was his predilection, rather than drink. The character of Dr. Cliff Robert was partly based on a very creepy manager we once had in Glasgow, but took his name from The Beatles’ song, “Dr. Robert”, which was the fictitious name The Beatles used for the doctor who provided them, and many other stars of the mid-sixties, with drugs. The character of Rachel, really, is the embodiment of that person we all fall madly in love with at some point in our lives, but are destined (for any number of reasons) never to be with. The Victoria Hall, where they boys find employment improvising dramas for an experimental community of mental patients, took its inspiration from the Kingsley Hall experiment run in the mid-to-late sixties by the famous Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing. There are two unusual coincidences in that. My wife, it transpired, was at school with R.D. Laing’s son, who later went on to write the definitive biography of his father. And it also turned out that R.D. Laing and myself were both trained to play the piano at the Ommer School of Music in Glasgow. To create and describe the authentic atmosphere surrounding events in the (fictitious) Victoria Hall, I was able to purchase online access to rare footage taken during the actual Kingsley Hall experiment. I also read several of R.D. Laing’s books, as well as the biography written by his son, along with an account of her time there written by the Kingsley Hall’s most famous resident, Mary Barnes, and her psychiatrist Joe Berke. I also visited the hall itself, which is still there, although all boarded up now. To get the detail right, I made the return journey of the old boys myself last year – through the Lake District and Leeds, to London, and all the locations there where the action takes place. I also did extensive research on the year 1965, including tracking down an original AA 1965 road map of Britain which I bid for on eBay, to fill in the gaps in my own memory. One particularly interesting location that I tracked down was the spot, behind the Savoy Hotel, where, in the spring of 1965, Bob Dylan shot the iconic video for his song “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and I had the boys witnessing the filming of it in the book. I took a photograph of myself in the very spot where Dylan had stood discarding his large lyric cue cards. The Merchants’ Tavern, which appears at the end of the book, is a real restaurant to be found in Charlotte Road in Shoreditch, London. It is owned by celebrity chef, Angela Hartnet, and the chef is her partner, Neil Borthwick, a young Scotsman whom I met when he was No.2 to the top chef in France, Michel Bras, and I spent time in Bras’s kitchen researching another book.

Peter May tells us all about what led him to write his latest book, Runaway.

Peter May - my inspiration for Runaway

Peter May tells us all about what led him to write his latest book, Runaway.

Quercus Autumn 2015

Click below to view the Autumn 2015 catalogue from Quercus.

Quercus Spring 2016

Click below to view the Spring 2016 catalogue from Quercus.

Quercus Spring 2016

Click below to view the Spring 2016 catalogue from Quercus.

The Independent

Entry Island Book Review: New detective investigates age-old injustices

There is a certain pleasure (however smug) in being ahead of the curve when spotting a particularly gifted writer, and a certain regret when the masses catch up with your discovery. The latter, of course, is the state desired by author and publisher, and Peter May has now made the transition from connoisseurs’ taste to popular bestseller.