Today I’m delighted to welcome historical fiction author John Day to the blog.
John retired from private practice about 10 years ago and took up writing with no intention of publishing. He simply enjoyed the utter joy of creating stories.
A keen traveller, John has enjoyed combining story-telling with the locations he has visited. His interest in photography helped open his eyes to a new way of seeing things. Underwater photography and wreck diving added to his experience and have been turned into adventures in some of his books.
His new World War Two spy novel, Espionage – London, is out now.
What inspired you to write a spy novel set in World War 2?
It was after my third published book. I was on a cruise in the Pacific when the idea came to me. I should write about the wonderful Island I live on, Alderney, one of the Channel Islands.
The island is covered with forts and German bunkers, because it formed the essential part of Hitler’s Atlantic wall. However, therein lay a big problem. No weapon was ever fired in anger on the island, so what could I write?
It had to be a spy novel, set during World War Two. I love spy stories and this had so much potential.
Then it hit me, everyone knows how the war turned out, so the real challenge was how to use that and still come up with an amazing, unique plot.
The book is set partly on the island of Alderney. Can you give us a tour of the book’s locations?
I hate the obvious back story in a book so I worked it to set the grim atmosphere of a captured spy in German hands. So Peenemünde is where all the action briefly begins.
Alderney is the first big twist in the tale. Here the plot starts to boil, and Fort Clonque is the place where much of the intrigue and romance takes place.
To ramp up the atmosphere and tension as the new characters are introduced the reader gets a feel for the poor conditions the Germans suffered here and the discovery MI6 have a spy known as Raven in their midst.
Each character has a real identifiable personality and their own reason for going on the mission, emerges.
A hellish channel crossing to a rocky cove in Dorset is the first step to London, an area I lived in as a small child, though I was born in Dorset.
I chose Worth Matravers near Lulworth Cove for the landing because I know the area well. I think this comes out in my writing as I build the atmosphere of the scene.
The time in the dark back streets of London are decisive and much takes place in this dramatic and perilous part of the book.
Many people were unaware that parts of the underground railway were converted to factories. It will be no surprise that three of the spies work there, but they were not interested in what went on inside.
The return to Alderney forms yet another climax to the adventure as certain questions must be resolved. It is here where the invisible melding of fiction and fact take place in a credible conclusion.
You might be forgiven if you believe it actually happened.
Who are your favourite authors?
They have changed throughout my life. I believe authors are fashionable like everything else. It embarrasses me to reveal just two writers manage to keep me entertained. I would hate to give the impression that my books are even remotely similar to these writers, because they just aren’t. Chris Ryan and Andy McNab manage to inject tension into a plot that is going somewhere. I need that in a book and that is how I write.
What are you working on next?
My next book Secret Cargo the first of a new series, is at first draft stage. A modern setting this time where a disparate group of two men and two women end up chasing after the same treasure.
It is as close to a Cussler novel as I would want, yet offers so much more.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I travel the world a lot and take the sort of photos that most people seem to like. Certainly, the Island Tourism people like to use them a lot.
Thanks, John. That was great!
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