Related to: 'Lalage Snow'

Quercus

War Gardens

Lalage Snow
Authors:
Lalage Snow

"This extraordinary book...warm and engaging...like a photograph magicked to life." Spectator'What makes War Gardens the most illuminating garden book to be published this year, is the realisation that people's gardens are the antidotes to the horrors of their surroundings.' Country LifeA journey through the most unlikely of gardens: the oases of peace people create in the midst of warIn this millennium, we have become war weary. From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Ukraine to South Sudan and Syria, from Kashmir to the West Bank, conflict is as contagious and poisonous as Japanese knotweed. Living through it are people just like us with ordinary jobs, ordinary pressures and ordinary lives. Against a new landscape of horror and violence it is up to them to maintain a modicum of normality and colour. For some,gardening is the way to achieve this.Working in the world's most dangerous war zones, freelance war correspondent and photographer Lally Snow has often chanced across a very moving sight, a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit in adversity, a celebration of hope and beauty: a war garden. In Kabul, the royal gardens are tended by a centenarian gardener, though the king is long gone; in Camp Bastion, bored soldiers improvise tiny gardens to give themselves a moment's peace; on both sides of the dividing line in Jerusalem families tend groves of olives and raise beautiful plants from the unforgiving, disputed landscape; in Ukraine,families tend their gardens in the middle of a surreal, frozen war.War Gardens is a surprising, tragic and beautiful journey through the darkest places of the modern world, revealing the ways people make time and space for themselves and for nature even in the middle of destruction. Illustrated with Lally Snow's own award-winning photography, this is a book to treasure.

riverrun

Histories

Sam Guglani
Authors:
Sam Guglani

'Remarkable and full of grace. It broke my heart' Sarah Perry'Guglani is the real deal' Michel Faber'Profound . . . Poetic . . . Humane' Gabriel Weston'Shows rare skill . . . Power and fear and morality' Sarah Moss, author of The Tidal ZoneHistories is a hypnotic portrait of life in one hospital, over one week. In the corridors and consulting rooms, by the bedside, through the open curtain, we witness charged encounters within the emotional and physical world of medicine. Old insecurities surface as junior doctors try to save a man from dying; an enraged chaplain picks a fight with a consultant; a porter waxes lyrical on his invisibility. These are only some of the stories that so seamlessly connect, collide and create an unforgettable panorama of being. Sam Guglani's vivid prose has the raw intensity of poetry that pulls the reader in on every page.

Jo Fletcher Books

Rotherweird

Andrew Caldecott, Sasha Laika
Contributors:
Andrew Caldecott, Sasha Laika

'A book with special and dangerous properties' Hilary Mantel, bestselling author of Wolf Hall'Enthralling' M.R. Carey, bestselling author of The Girl With All the Gifts 'An imaginative tour de force' The Times1558: Twelve children, gifted far beyond their years, are banished by their Tudor queen to the town of Rotherweird. Some say they are the golden generation; some say the devil's spawn. But everyone knows they are something to be revered - and feared. Four and a half centuries on, cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I and still bound by its ancient laws, Rotherweird's independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history. Then an Outsider arrives, a man of unparallelled wealth and power, enough to buy the whole of Rotherweird - deeply buried secrets and all . . . Welcome to Rotherweird. 'A remarkable achievement' Sunday Independent 'Compelling' Guardian

Jo Fletcher Books

Tyrant's Throne

Sebastien de Castell
Authors:
Sebastien de Castell

Would you - could you? - uphold the law at the cost of those you love?'First-rate fiction, first rate adventure, first rate full stop' - Sunday Times bestseller Conn Iggulden.Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King's dream: soon, Aline will take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.But in Tristia, nothing is ever that simple. In neighbouring Avares, an enigmatic warlord has risen, and his closest ally is none other than Falcio's old nemesis Trin. With the armies of Avares at her back, she'll be unstoppable.Falcio, Kest and Brasti go racing north to stop her, but in those treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous . . .'A gripping read with genuine emotion and excitement' - Mark Lawrence, bestselling author of Red Sister.

Jo Fletcher Books

Saint's Blood

Sebastien de Castell
Authors:
Sebastien de Castell

'High energy, highly unique, swashbuckling-cop-epic-noir story. Buy it. BUY IT NOW' Sam SykesThe Greatcoats are back - and this time it's personal.How do you kill a Saint? Falcio, Brasti and Kest are about to find out, as someone is doing just that, and they've started with a friend.The Dukes were already looking for ways to weasel out of their promise to put Aline on her father's throne - but with Saints turning up dead, and Church Inquistitors pushing for control - rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension.The only way Falcio can stop the country turning into a vicious theocracy is to find and stop the Saint-killer - but his only clue is the iron mask encasing the head of the Saint of Mercy, which prevents her from speaking. And even if he can find the murderer, he will still have to face them in battle - and this may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can win.(P)2017 Quercus Editions Limited

MacLehose Press

Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa

Joseph Farrell
Authors:
Joseph Farrell

Almost every adult and child is familiar with his Treasure Island, but few know that Robert Louis Stevenson lived out his last years on an equally remote island, which was squabbled over by colonial powers much as Captain Flint's treasure was contested by the mongrel crew of the Hispaniola.In 1890 Stevenson settled in Upolu, an island in Samoa, after two years sailing round the South Pacific. He was given a Samoan name and became a fierce critic of the interference of Germany, Britain and the U.S.A. in Samoan affairs - a stance that earned him Oscar Wilde's sneers, and brought him into conflict with the Colonial Office, who regarded him as a menace and even threatened him with expulsion from the island.Joseph Farrell's pioneering study of Stevenson's twilight years stands apart from previous biographies by giving as much weight to the Samoa and the Samoans - their culture, their manners, their history - as to the life and work of the man himself. For it is only by examining the full complexity of Samoa and the political situation it faced as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, that Stevenson's lasting and generous contribution to its cause can be appreciated.

Quercus

Make Your Own Christmas Jumper

Nicolette Lafonseca
Authors:
Nicolette Lafonseca
riverrun

A Field Guide to Reality

Joanna Kavenna, Oly Ralfe
Contributors:
Joanna Kavenna, Oly Ralfe

'An extraordinary, wise, funny, adventurous and hallucinogenic book that combines fiction with gleefully warped fact. Kavenna explores the complex nature of reality and perception with vast imaginative energy and a generous spirit.' A. L. KennedyEliade Jencks knows the only reason people call at midnight is to tell you someone has died. Professor Solete was one of her few friends. Perhaps her only friend. But his friends don't think much of her - a vague, scruffy waitress, impatient with philosophical onanism at parties. Naturally, they're horrified to find out that Solete has left her his Field Guide to Reality.The Guide has taken on legendary proportions among the celebrated minds of Oxford. The work of a lifetime, it purportedly advances Solete's great philosophical Theory of Everything and even defines the very nature of reality. A big, important book. Only, they can't find it.So, baffled, grieving, and slightly annoyed, Eliade sets out on a quest for the missing manuscript, and falls down a rabbit-hole of metaphysical possibility. From a psychotropic tea party to the Priests of the Quantum Realm, she trips her way through Solete's wonderland reality and, without quite meaning to, bursts open the boundaries of her own. In this clever, darkly ironic and moving novel, Granta Best of Young British author Joanna Kavenna displays fearless originality and dread wit in confronting the strangeness of reality and how we contend with the disappearance of those we love. Beautiful original drawings by Oly Ralfe illustrate this haunting tale of bringing light to an empty room.

Quercus

Shrill

Lindy West
Authors:
Lindy West

'Women are told, from birth, that it's our job to be small: physically small, small in our presence, and small in our impact on the world. We're supposed to spend our lives passive, quiet and hungry. I want to obliterate that expectation...'Guardian columnist Lindy West wasn't always loud. It's difficult to believe she was once a nerdy, overweight teen who wanted nothing more than to be invisible. Fortunately for women everywhere, along the road she found her voice - and how she found it! That cripplingly shy girl who refused to make a sound, somehow grew up to be one of the loudest, shrillest, most fearless feminazis on the internet, making a living standing up for what's right instead of what's cool.In Shrill, Lindy recounts how she went from being the butt of people's jokes, to telling her own brand of jokes - ones that carry with them with a serious message and aren't at someone else's expense. She reveals the obstacles and stereotyping she's had to overcome to make herself heard, in a society that doesn't think women (especially fat women and feminists) are or can be funny. She also tackles some of the most burning issues of popular culture today, taking a frank and provocative look at racism, oppression, fat-shaming, twitter-trolling and even rape culture, unpicking the bullshit and calling out unpalatable truths with conviction, intelligence and a large dose of her trademark black humour.'Lindy West is an essential (and hilarious) voice for women. Her talent and bravery have made the Internet a place I actually want to be.' Lena Dunham

riverrun

Daydreams of Angels

Heather O'Neill
Authors:
Heather O'Neill

'Like Angela Carter, she is relentlessly inventive' Sunday TimesAward-winning short stories by the Bailey's Prize longlisted author of The Lonely Hearts HotelA cherub breaks all the rules when he spends one night with a girl on earth.Snow White and Rose Red forge a unique way to survive the Paris occupation.A soldier is brought back to life by a toymaker, but he's not grateful.And a child begins the story of a Gypsy and a bear, who have to finish it themselves.These are old stories, but not as you know them. These are set not in the forests of Europe or fantasy worlds, but on the battlefields of World War Two and the wilderness of downtown Montreal.With her blazing imagination, irreverent humour and arresting prose, Heather O'Neill twists them anew: more magical for their realism, more profound for their darkness; captivating, witty and wicked.

MacLehose Press

Zola and the Victorians

Eileen Horne
Authors:
Eileen Horne

London, 1888: Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of Whitechapel; national strikes and social unrest threaten the status quo; a grave economic crisis is spreading across the Atlantic . . . Yet Her Majesty's government is preoccupied with "a mere book" - or rather, a series of books: new translations of the Rougon-Macquart saga by French literary giant Émile Zola.In his time, Zola made his British contemporaries look positively pastoral; much of his work is considered shocking and transgressive even now. But it was his English publisher who bore the brunt of the Victorians' moral outrage at Zola's "realistic" depictions of striking miners, society courtesans and priapic, feuding farmers.Seventy years before Lady Chatterley's Lover broke the back of British censorship, Henry Vizetelly's commitment to publishing Zola, and to the nascent principle of free speech, not only landed him in the dock and thereafter in prison, but brought to ruin to the publishing house he had founded. Meanwhile, Zola was going from strength to strength, establishing his reputation as a literary legend and falling in love with a woman half his age.This lively, humorous and ultimately tragic tale is an exploration of the consequences of translation and censorship which remains relevant today for readers, publishers and authors everywhere.

MacLehose Press

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair

Joël Dicker
Authors:
Joël Dicker
Jo Fletcher Books

City of Stairs

Robert Jackson Bennett
Authors:
Robert Jackson Bennett
Quercus

Complete Guide to Digital Photography

Ian Farrell
Authors:
Ian Farrell

Are you intent on capturing the perfect sunset? A budding photojournalist? Or ready to take your holiday snaps to the next level? The Complete Guide to Digital Photography is your definitive guide to taking, processing and printing sharper, more colourful and better looking pictures. Ian Farrell's expert tips take you from the basics of using your camera to advanced darkroom techniques with 52 step-by-step projects including portraits, landscapes, still-life images, fast-moving objects and photographing live events. Easy-to-follow instructions introduce you to the latest software, allowing you to retouch blemishes, restore old photographs or adjust the colour to transform washed-out pictures into professional-quality photographs. Reflecting the latest online developments, this comprehensive guide also includes advice on selling your images through agencies, high-quality printing and even creating your own coffee-table book. Featuring technical tips, interviews with the professionals, troubleshooting techniques and over 400 inspirational images, the Complete Guide to Digital Photography is the ultimate master class in digital photography. Contents include: Portrait photography, Landscape photography, Street photography, Nature and wildlife, Dynamic live action, Special effects, Macro photography, Travel photography, Wedding photography, Digital darkroom, Colour management, Sharpening, High dynamic range, Skin smoothing, Printing your images, Making a portfolio, Your first exhibition, Selling your photographs.

Jo Fletcher Books

Traitor's Blade

Sebastien de Castell
Authors:
Sebastien de Castell

'One hell of a good book' - Conn IgguldenThe Greatcoats - legendary heroes, arbiters of justice . . . or notorious traitors? The Greatcoats are travelling magistrates bringing justice to all . . . or at least they were, before they watched the Dukes impale their King's head on a spike. Now the land's heroes are reviled as traitors, their Greatcoats in tatters.Facio, Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as mercenaries, but when they find their employer dead - and are forced to watch as the killer plants evidence framing them for the murder - they realise things are about to get even worse.For the royal conspiracy that began with overthrowing an idealistic young king is spreading to Rijou, the most corrupt city in the land, and the life of a young girl hangs in the balance.When every noble is a tyrant and every knight is a thug, the only thing you can really trust is a traitor's blade.

Jo Fletcher Books

A Cold Season

Alison Littlewood
Authors:
Alison Littlewood

How far would you go to save your child? A nail-biting thriller, 'perfect reading for a dark winter's night' (Richard and Judy). Cass's husband is missing, presumed dead in Afghanistan. Floored by grief, Cass is left alone to take care of her son, Ben, who has been traumatised by his father's death. So when a renovated mill becomes available in the remote Lancashire village of Darnshaw, Cass decides it will be the perfect place for her family to heal. But it quickly becomes clear that outsiders are not welcome in the village, and Ben is displaying a hostility Cass can't understand. As darker events unfold, Cass starts to question her son's sanity. Then a blizzard blows in and Darnshaw is marooned in a sea of snow. Threatened on all sides, Cass finds herself pitted against forces she can barely comprehend. A broken family. A dark secret. The cold season has begun . . .

Lally Snow

Award winning photographer, filmmaker and writer Lalage Snow has covered conflict and unrest since 2007 after finishing a Masters degree with Distinction in photojournalism at London College of Communication. Her personal projects have been published and exhibited to critical acclaim around the world and have been featured on the Channel 4, BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. She has also given a number of public talks at literary festivals, museums and academic institutions including MIT. A series of short films made in Afghanistan are currently on display at the Smithsonian, the worlds largest museum complex.

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!

Welovethisbook.com

Q&A with Elly and Keith Walters

Elly Griffiths tells us about her fourth novel in the Ruth Galloway Investigation series, a possible BBC adaptation, and why she hates Time Team In A Room Full of Bones, new mother and forensic archeologist Ruth finds a museum curator dead ahead of the opening of a new medieval bones exhibition. How have the character dynamics changed now that Ruth Galloway’s one-year-old daughter Kate is around? It feels like a real privilege to have the time and space to develop the characters. It does get easier but I have to say that Kate was a challenge. I wanted her to be a distinct presence in Ruth’s life – every parent knows that a baby disrupts your life completely – but I didn’t want the books to become diatribes about the hardships of being a single parent. Are museums somewhere you spend a lot of time? I used to live in South London and visited the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill a few times. I have to say, though, that the museum that influenced me most is the Booth Museum in Hove. It’s very near my old school and I remember many happy stolen hours staring at the Great Auk... Was it always your intention to make Ruth dissimilar to traditional female detectives, with her clumsiness and weight issues? I just wanted to make her real. It wasn’t until after the book was published that I realised how many crime heroines were, in essence, superwomen – looking beautiful, cooking gourmet meals, running twenty miles before breakfast. Ruth could certainly eat a gourmet meal but she would struggle with the rest. Are the Rebus and Springsteen references in the books favourites of yours, as they appear to be the books and CDs of choice to Ruth Galloway? Do you have a favourite Boss album? Yes, I’m a big fan of both Ian Rankin and Bruce Springsteen. My favourite Springsteen album is Born to Run and my favourite track is Thunder Road. Are there any crime writers who have been a particular help or influence when you started out? I hadn’t read a lot of crime novels when I wrote The Crossing Places. My biggest influences were probably Victorian writers like Wilkie Collins. Since then I have met quite a few stars of the crime world and they have all been incredibly friendly and supportive. Val McDermid, in particular, has been delightful. Crime writers seem particularly charming. Maybe they exorcise all their demons in their books. I don’t know any Brighton-based writers, though I did meet Peter James when we were both shortlisted for the same award. You featured a location map in the first book, The Crossing Places, are there any plans to get maps into any future books? I love drawing maps and managed to get one into The House at Sea’s End. I think every book should have a map at the front. How do you write? My system hasn’t really changed. I write a rough chapter-by-chapter outline and then go for it. I write for about three hours a day and the rest of the time it’s going round in my head. I hope my plots have got a bit better as I’ve gone on though. Is Ruth going to be brought to the TV screen? The BBC has expressed interest, but I don’t think I’m allowed to say more than that. I would love to see Ruth on TV. Not sure who would play her, though... The location of your books is fantastic and they all give a tremendous sense of place - but could you ever see yourself writing Ruth into Brighton, or writing a standalone novel in Brighton? Or is your hometown too crowded with fictional crime already? Peter James does have Brighton sewn up and I’m sure I couldn’t better him. I do have a vague idea about a historical crime novel set in Brighton, though. My granddad was a music hall comedian and I’d love to write about that world. Ruth has no plans to leave Norfolk, although in book five she does visit Blackpool. Why does Ruth not like Time Team? Well, I have a bit of a grudge against Time Team, as my husband had a well-paid city job before he started watching it and now he’s a poorly-paid archaeologist! I think it’s a great programme, but Ruth, being a professional, would be rather sniffy about it (whilst, at the same time, watching it avidly). What can we look forward to next from Ruth Galloway or from Elly Griffiths? I’ve almost finished book five, which will be about Roman remains found near Blackpool. It takes Ruth into Nelson’s territory and, of course, into danger. I’ve already got a pretty good idea for Book 6. After that, who knows? A Room Full of Bones is out tomorrow, published by Quercus.