Related to: 'Reading Between the Lines'

Quercus

How to Draw Anything

Do something amazing and learn a new skill thanks to the Little Ways to Live a Big Life books! As children, when we learn to write, we gain an important life skill: a practical means of communicating that we end up using almost every day of our lives, if only to jot down a shopping list or dash out an email. As children, we also know instinctively that drawing is a great way to communicate, but later in life it isn't universally valued and nurtured in the way that writing is. It's not seen as a necessity, it's seen as a specialism. As a result, most of us stop drawing completely, apart from the odd doodling. More than that, we lose all confidence in our ability to draw. Yet drawing is an incredibly prac­tical way of turning what's inside your head into something tangible and useful. It can equip you with new means of solving problems, sharing ideas and telling stories. How to Draw Anything sets out to repair our broken relationship with drawing. It will inspire you to pick up that pencil from where you left it all those years ago and start making pictures again. It will give you back the confidence and joy in drawing you never should have lost. And it will take drawing out of the art world and put it into your world, introducing you to drawing as a practical tool for everyday life that will change the way you work, think and communicate.

Quercus

The Little Book of Ikigai

Ken Mogi
Authors:
Ken Mogi
MacLehose Press

Belladonna

Daša Drndic
Authors:
Daša Drndic

Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, full of empathy, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In defying illness and old age, Andreas Ban is cynical and powerful, and in his investigations into his own past, he learns stories told by the disempowered, hunted down and helpless, stories that uncompromisingly lay bare a gamut of taboos.In Belladonna, Dasa Drndic pushes to the limit the issues about illness and the (im)possibility of living (and dying) in contemporary, utterly dehumanised world where old age and illness are the scarlet letters of shame thrown in the face of the advertised eternal youth and beauty. Belladonna brings together fiction and reality, and Andreas Ban stands for a true hero of our times; he is a castaway intellectual of a society which subdues every critical thought under the disguise of political correctness.

Quercus

This Book Will Make You Fearless

Jo Usmar
Authors:
Jo Usmar

'Take on January with new-found serenity with this series of self-help books' StylistOvercome your fears and change your life.We all feel frightened sometimes - it's totally natural - but if fear is holding you back, making you feel stuck in a rut and hindering your ambitions, it's time to make changes. Jo Usmar provides a concise, straight-forward guide to battling your fears. There are strategies, tools and relatable examples throughout that offer simple and effective ways to feel brave, independent and confident. Pushing through your fear will allow you to take back control of your life so you can make changes, accept that you have choices and recognise that you absolutely can cope with whatever life throws at you. Anxiety is one of the biggest mental health challenges of our times. Rather than a downbeat 'coping with' book this is an inspiring modern take on 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. Chapters include: CBT-based techniques, dealing with physical anxiety, getting to the root cause of your fear, negotiating obstacles, stopping self-sabotage, building confidence, combatting guilt and shame, feeling more powerful, breaking negative patterns.Praise for This Book Will series:'Top tips for making your life loads better.' Cosmo'The answer to all my problems.' Katie Piper

Quercus

This Book Will Make You Successful

Jo Usmar
Authors:
Jo Usmar
Quercus

How to Play the Piano

James Rhodes
Authors:
James Rhodes
Quercus

50 Science Ideas You Really Need to Know

Gail Dixon, Paul Parsons
Authors:
Gail Dixon, Paul Parsons
Quercus

This Book Will Make You Mindful

Jessamy Hibberd, Jo Usmar
Authors:
Jessamy Hibberd, Jo Usmar

'Beat the blues with this pocket-sized guide to mindfulness and living in the moment.' Stylist Live in the moment, make the most of today and feel happier and more fulfilled.We live increasingly busy lives and can struggle to cope with the pressure we're put under by external factors and, most importantly, by ourselves. It's very common to feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities you have to juggle and feel that time is running away from you - that days, weeks, months and even years are passing in a blur. However, help is at hand. This compact and friendly book is a mindfulness starter kit, giving you everything you need to live in the moment and get the most from life. Dr Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar use the latest mindfulness techniques to teach you how to stop worrying about the future and dwelling on the past so life - the life you're actually living rather than the one you wish you were living or are planning to live soon - doesn't pass you by. Learning how your mind works will enable you to cope with the bad things while fully appreciating the good things, making you more confident, content and productive day-to-day.Chapters include:Mindfulness-based Cognitive TherapyMind GamesDeactivating AutopilotThe Path of Most ResistanceLet It BePraise for the This Book Will series:'Top tips for making your life loads better.' Cosmo'The answer to all my problems.' Katie Piper

Quercus

This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful

Jessamy Hibberd, Jo Usmar
Authors:
Jessamy Hibberd, Jo Usmar

Improve your body image and learn to combat self-doubt so you feel comfortable in your own skin.Body image insecurities can affect your entire life. Constantly worrying about how you look can ruin your day-to-day experiences - whether in your career, with family, or in relationships - curb your ambitions and make you feel you don't measure up in some way. If this sounds familiar, it's time to take action. This compact book addresses the root causes of body image anxiety and breaks them down so you can start changing how you view yourself, your appearance and any difficulties you're facing. You'll learn how to stop destructive behaviours, limit self-criticism, manage emotional eating and see yourself differently. Dr Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar use the latest CBT techniques with practical exercises to enable you to build your self-esteem and boost your wellbeing so you'll feel confident, self-assured and beautiful.Chapters include: Why Do We Hate the Way We Look?Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)Stopping Bad Body Image BehaviourFood for ThoughtJudgement DayFacing Your FearsPraise for the This Book Will series:'Top tips for making your life loads better.' Cosmo'The answer to all my problems.' Katie Piper'Take on January with new-found serenity with this series of self-help books' Stylist

Daša Drndic

Dasa Drndic is a distinguished Croatian novelist and playwright. She also translates and teaches at the Faculty of Philosophy in Rijeka.

Daša Drndic

Dasa Drndic is a distinguished Croatian novelist and playwright. She has also been a translator, and a lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy in Rijeka. Trieste (2012), her first novel to be translated into English, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has now been translated into many other languages. It was followed by Leica Format (2015) and Belladonna (2017).

Emma Bache

The UK's leading handwriting expert, Emma Bache has worked as a graphologist since 1989, analysing handwriting in both the Corporate and private sectors. With additional qualifications in Psychotherapy and Hypnotherapy, Emma has helped to solve cases of fraud for both private individuals and the corporate world, giving a valuable insight into the criminal mind. She has had her own columns in The Times and the Financial Times and has written for other major publications such as the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan. She has made frequent TV and Radio appearances, including GMTV's This Morning, BBC's History Hunter and Radio 4's Today Programme.

Gail Dixon

GAIL DIXON is a journalist and editor with many years' experience. She has worked as a commissioning editor for BBC Focus and is a regular contributor to Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. She is co-author, with Paul Parsons, of The Periodic Table, which became a number 1 Amazon bestseller.

Jessamy Hibberd

Dr Jessamy Hibberd is a highly respected clinical psychologist who worked for the NHS before setting up her own private practice. She is a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). Jo Usmar is a freelance journalist and editor. She has contributed to a variety of national titles, including Stylist and Fabulous, as well as writing a regular relationship column for Cosmopolitan. She has appeared on TV and radio commenting on lifestyle and relationship issues.

Jo Usmar

Jo Usmar is the co-author of six titles in the This Book Will Make You series and sole author of This Book Will Make You Fearless and This Book Will Make You Successful.Through her work as a journalist for magazines, newspapers and websites including the Telegraph, Huffington Post, Stylist, ShortList, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, the Mirror and Look, Jo is well known for her entertaining tone and light touch with tricky subjects. She has appeared on Radio 4 Woman's Hour and Sky News discussing her work and is the founder of the Instagram self-help vlog project Bite Sized Psych.www.jousmar.com

Paul Parsons

Dr Paul Parsons is a regular contributor to Nature, New Scientist and the Daily Telegraph. He frequently appears on BBC radio and his television credits include Richard & Judy and BBC Breakfast. He was formerly editor of the BBC's award-winning science and technology magazine Focus. The Science of Doctor Who (Icon Books), was longlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books. His latest book is Science 1001 published by Quercus.

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!

You want it - we've got it

Stocking Fillers

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

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

Stocking Fillers

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