Related to: 'Jeremy Nicholas'

riverrun

Testament

Kim Sherwood
Authors:
Kim Sherwood

'I am absorbed by the delicacy, even the beauty, with which she writes of the trauma of history' Amit ChaudhuriWinner of the Bath Novel AwardThe letter was in the Blue Room - her grandfather's painting studio, where Eva spent the happier days of her childhood. After his death, she is the one responsible for his legacy - a legacy threatened by the letter she finds. It is from the Jewish Museum in Berlin.They have found the testimony her grandfather gave after surviving the labour camps in Austria. And, since he was one of Britain's greatest twentieth century artists, they want to exhibit it. But Joseph Silk - leaving behind József Zyyad - remade himself long ago. As Eva begins to uncover the truth, she understands the trauma, and the lies, that have haunted her family. She will unravel what happened to József and his brother, who came to England as refugees. One never spoke of his past - the other couldn't let it go. Their story - and that of the woman they both loved - is in her hands. Revealing it would change her grandfather's hard-won identity. But it could also change the tide of history. This testament can lend words to wordless grief, and teach her how to live.Kim Sherwood's extraordinary first novel is a powerful statement of intent. Beautifully written, moving and hopeful, it crosses the tidemark where the third generation meets the first, finding a new language to express love, loss and our place within history.

riverrun

All Rivers Run Free

Natasha Carthew
Authors:
Natasha Carthew

'Raw, passionate, hallucinatory. Reading All Rivers Run Free was to be lured by an edgy siren voice of fierce womanhood' Rachel HolmesA woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life. Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall. In years of living with Bran - her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband - she's never yet had her own baby. So when she discovers the waif washed up on the shore, Ia takes the risk and rescues her. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia - bringing back a memory she's lost, giving her the strength to escape, and leading her on a journey downriver.It will take her into the fringes of a society she's shunned, collapsed around its own isolation. It will take her through a valley ravaged by floods, into a world not too far from reckoning. It will take her in search of her sister, and the dark remembrance of their parting. It will take her, break her, remake her, in the shapes of freedom.Natasha Carthew is a startling new voice from beyond the limits of common urban experience. She tells a tale of marginalisation and motherhood in prose that crashes like waves on rocks; rough, breathless and beautiful.

Quercus

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Joanna Bolouri
Authors:
Joanna Bolouri

'Bloody hilarious' Isabelle Broom. A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Don't Stop Me Now and The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart.Emily has a satisfying job, fab friends and, most importantly, a wonderful flat, exactly 411 miles away from the judgemental, interfering family she reluctantly sees once a year. In fact, the only minor stress in her life is her twenty-something neighbour Evan and his penchant for flirting, loud music and even louder sex . . . but he's nothing she can't handle. Emily also has a boyfriend called Robert and it's going really well. So well, in fact, that Emily is hoping to take him home to meet her family. Finally no more pitying looks from her younger, married siblings. But when the relationship suddenly falls apart, Emily is gutted. How on earth is she going to face her family now? Enlisting the help of party-boy Evan, Emily is determined for Robert to meet the parents come hell or high water, even if it isn't the real Robert . . .

Quercus

Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to British Birds

Bill Bailey
Authors:
Bill Bailey

'When herons are spooked they have a habit of vomiting as a defence. Half-digested pieces of eel and water vole skull on your head is not a good look. Just so you know.'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. Whether it's what they eat, where they fly to or how they communicate, these birds are always fascinating, and Bailey introduces us to their weird and wonderful ways in a manner that is always entertaining. If you're a parent who'd like to appear a bit clever when your child asks you the name of a bird; if you want to find a new and healthy hobby that takes you outdoors; or whether, quite simply, you want to understand a bit more about our natural environment and have a laugh at the same time, this is the perfect companion book to have.Alongside music and stand-up, one of Bailey's favourite pastimes is birdwatching, which he has been doing since he was a child in the West Country. His fondest memories are of family outings with parents, grandparents and cousins, ticking the birds off in his little Observer's Book of Birds. As he has said about those formative years, 'birdwatching gave a purpose to the day and a love of the natural world which has carried on into my adult life'. A beautifully and originally designed hardback, it will delight Bailey's fans as well as those who like a bit of armchair escapism.

Quercus

How to Play the Piano

James Rhodes
Authors:
James Rhodes

Learn to play one of Bach's most exquisite preludes in just 6 weeks, even if you have never played the piano before.An accessible and inspiring book by the pianist and international bestselling writer James Rhodes, who promises that it 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.How often do we convince ourselves that it's just too late - too late to learn how to ride a bike, too late to know how to meditate, too late to travel the world... As we get older and time slips through our fingers like water, we become resigned, almost defeatist, about abandoning our dreams. For James Rhodes, after the inevitable "How many hours a day do you practice?" and "Show me your hands", the most common thing people say to him when they hear he's a pianist is "I used to play the piano as a kid. I really regret giving it up". Where does this mourned and misplaced creativity go? For Rhodes, it's still there to be tapped into by all of us, at any point. This inspirational book gives us the means to do this, by breaking up Bach's seminal Prelude No. 1 from the Well-Tempered Clavier into manageable segments, teaching us the basics of piano playing - how to read music, the difference between the treble and the bass clef, sharp and flat notes, how to practice etc.. - and encouraging personal interpretation in a way that is guaranteed to soothe the mind, feed the soul and unleash creative powers we didn't know we still had. All of this will culminate in an ability to perform one of Bach's masterpieces."If listening to music is soothing for the soul, then playing music is achieving enlightenment. It's going from kicking a ball around with a few pals to playing alongside Ronaldo."

MacLehose Press

Youth

Paolo Sorrentino
Authors:
Paolo Sorrentino
Quercus

I Followed the Rules

Joanna Bolouri
Authors:
Joanna Bolouri

'After a couple of pages I was already crying with laughter!' Amazon reviewer. The bestselling romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Don't Stop Me Now and The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart.True love by the book! Have you heard of The Rules of Engagement? It's a book that promises to teach you to find the man of your dreams in ten easy steps. Unsurprisingly, I don't own a copy. What is it, 1892? But I'm a journalist, and I've promised to follow it to the letter and write about the results. Never mind that my friends think I'm insane, I'm stalking men all over town and can't keep my mouth shut at the best of times. My name is Cat Buchanan. I've been single for six years, but that's about to change. After all, I'm on a deadline. I Followed the Rules and this is what happened . . .From the bestselling author of The List comes a hilarious romantic comedy about finding true love by the book.

Jo Fletcher Books

K.I.D.S.

Trevor Hoyle
Authors:
Trevor Hoyle
Jo Fletcher Books

Mirrorman

Trevor Hoyle
Authors:
Trevor Hoyle
Quercus

Netymology

Tom Chatfield
Authors:
Tom Chatfield

Composed of 100 bite-sized entries of 400 to 600 words each, Netymology weaves together stories, etymologies and analyses around digital culture's transformation, and creation, of words. Tom Chatfield presents a kaleidoscopic, thought-provoking tour through the buried roots of some of the digital age's most common terms: from the @ and Apple symbols, to HTML and Trojan horses, to the twisted histories of new forms of slang, memes, text messages and gaming terms. There's also discussion of the trends behind digital words, and of the ways language itself is being shaped by new forces - and revelations about how these forces are, in turn, reshaping us.

MacLehose Press

The Voyage

Murray Bail
Authors:
Murray Bail

Quercus

Play Better Guitar

David Black, David Black
Authors:
David Black, David Black

This inspirational, fully illustrated guide to playing the guitar provides a sound framework for the beginner and reinforces basic knowledge for the more experienced player. Arranged in three sections - The Basics, Moving On and Learning from the Experts - it builds into a progressive course, with exercises, useful tips and examples designed to enable you to play better. The comprehensive coverage ranges from mastering first chords, simple tuning and fingerpicking, to improvising and composing, creating effects and matching the sounds and styles of the guitar greats.

Quercus

Philosophy

Jeremy Harwood
Authors:
Jeremy Harwood

From philosophy's founding fathers - Thales, Socrates, Plato... to great minds of the post-modern era - Satre, Ayer, Feyerabend... this concise new guide presents 100 of the world's most influential thinkers. Arranged from the ancient world to the present day, each philosopher's key ideas, notable works and pronouncements are encapsulated in a series of succinct biographies, accompanied by illustrations, at-a-glance fact panels and thought-provoking quotations. Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide uncovers the fundamental concepts of this fascinating discipline, explaining the diverging schools of thought and revealing the universal aim of philosophy throughout the ages - to push back the boundaries of human knowledge in order to understand the fundamental nature of human existence. THE ANCIENT WORLD: Thales (c.635-c.543 BCE); Buddha (c.563-483 BCE); Confucius (c.55-479 BCE); Socrates (470-399 BCE); Plato (427-347 BCE); Aristotle (384-322 BCE). THE MIDDLE AGES: Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980-1037); Peter Lombard (c1100-1160); Averroes (Ibn Rushd) 1126-1198); Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274); William of Ockham (1285- 1349). THE EARLY MODERN ERA: Machiavelli (1469-1527); Hobbes (1588-1679); Descartes (1596-1650); Locke (1632-1704); Voltaire (1694-1778). THE MODERN ERA: Fichte (1762-1814); G W F Hegel (1770-1831); Schopenhauer (1788-1860); Marx (1818-1883); Engels (1820-1895); Nietzsche (1844-1900); Dewy (1859-1952); Max Weber (1864-1920); Gasset (1883-1955); Heidegger (1889-1976). THE POST-MODERN ERA: Marcuse (1898-1979); Karl Popper (1902-1994); Sartre (1905-1980); Arendt (1906-1975); de Beauvoir (1908-1986); A J Ayer (1910-1989); Feyerabend (1924-1994); Rorty (1931-2007). And many more...

MacLehose Press

The Vintage and the Gleaning

Jeremy Chambers
Authors:
Jeremy Chambers

Quercus

Immortal Words

Terry Breverton
Authors:
Terry Breverton

Immortal Words is an anthology of history's most memorable, uplifting or thought-provoking quotations from all ages and nations. The texts are drawn not only from the works and words of great writers, thinkers and orators, but also from less well-known sources such as gravestones, book dedications, speeches and political manifestos, letters and diaries, inscriptions and chance remarks. Each of the 370 quotations is accompanied by an extended annotation that tells the story of the speaker or explains the circumstances that gave rise to the quotation. The words and sentiments expressed have been used to encapsulate the human condition, to inspire great works or deeds in times of hardship, or simply reflect the spirit of the time - they will live with you and inspire you day by day, from one year's end to the next. Sample entries include:Marcus Aurelius - 'Nowhere can a man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul .'. Martin Luther King - 'I have a dream .'. John F. Kennedy - 'Ask not, what your country .'. John Gillespie Magee, Royal Air Force pilot, 1941 - 'High Flight'. Ronald Reagan - 'Tear down his wall .'. Isadora Duncan - on her sickbed, writes a feverishly passionate letter to her lover, the actor Gordon Craig. Mother Teresa of Calcutta - 'Life is .'. Colonel Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment, March 19 2003 - 'We come not to conquer .''. Emma Lazarus - 'The New Colossus' (plaque on Statue of Liberty). Joseph Stalin - first broadcast to the Russian people after the German invasion, July 3 1941. Mahatma Gandhi - 'I am a man of peace .'. Abraham Lincoln - on leaving Springfield, Illinois, to take the oath as President. February 11, 1861. Cicero - quoting Cato the Elder, in De Senectute (On Old Age), 44 BC. Charles Lindbergh - describing the last minutes of his pioneering non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Nelson Mandela - 'I am the First Accused'. Buddha - 'All acts of living creatures become bad by ten things .'. Benjamin Franklin - writes a first draft of his own epitaph. Thomas Jefferson - 'Force cannot change right . Winston Churchill - 'Never in the field of human conflict .'. Adolf Hitler - 'My patience is now at an end'. Edward Everett - President of Harvard on the protest of the student body against the admission of a Negro student. Francis Bacon - 'This world's a bubble; and the life of Man Less than a span .'. Horatio Nelson - 'Separated from all I hold dear in this world .'. Charlotte Cushman - inscription on the curtain of Ford's Opera House, Baltimore. Shakespeare - 'Once more unto the breach .' Henry V. Marie Antoinette - letter to her sister on the day of her execution. Ludwig Van Beethoven - 'I carry my ideas about me for along time, often a very long time.'. Aldous Huxley 1920- 'A million million spermatozoa .'. Eleanor Roosevelt - speaking on the function of hatred in a just cause. Indira Gandhi - 'Women's education is almost more important than the education of boys and men.'

Quercus

Brodeck's Report

Philippe Claudel
Authors:
Philippe Claudel

Quercus

The Great Composers

Jeremy Nicholas
Authors:
Jeremy Nicholas

Joanna Bolouri

Joanna Bolouri worked in sales before she began writing professionally at the age of thirty. Winning a BBC comedy script competition allowed her to work and write with stand-up comedians, comedy scriptwriters and actors from across the UK. She's had articles and reviews published in The Skinny, the Scottish Sun, the Huffington Post and HecklerSpray. She lives in Glasgow with her daughter.

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!