I’m delighted to report that my publisher of my Spycatcher books 1 to 5 (William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins) has renewed my contract for a further 2 books in the series. Book 6 will be published in 2016, book 7 in 2017. As with all previous books, both will feature my main MI6 protagonist Will Cochrane. This is great news and means I will be fully employed for the next three years writing my novels and related projects. I hope you look foward to reading the books!
First, my sincere apologies for my lack of recent updates in my blog.
In my defence, the last few months have been rather frantic. I’ve been writing the fifth novel in my Spycatcher series. Yesterday, I completed writing the book and its now with my U.S. HarperCollins editor. It will be published late summer this year. In places, the book has a different style compared to my previous novels. I’ve written my main MI6 protagonist – Will Cochrane – in the first person. I’d decided to do that because so many people have told me they’re fascinated by how spies think. Writing in the first person is a good way to answer that.
In the last couple of months, my two children and I have moved home, which in its own right was a logistical “challenge”. Then Christmas turned up and I had to metaphorically put my Santa Claus hat on (now there’s a thought – tough Will Cochrane dressing up like Father Christmas for the festive season…).
SLINGSHOT, the third novel in my series, is published this February 12th in paperback in the UK. I’m delighted to see that DARK SPIES, my fourth novel (published late last year), is doing really well and getting great reviews.
Don’t forget you can follow me on my Facebook page (details on this website) to get more updates on my novels, my current affairs articles for various media outlets, and in general information about what I’m currently working on.
I hope 2015 is thus far proving a great year for you all.
My below article was published on 1st September 2014 in “The Murder Room Blog” (www.themurderroom.com).
ESPIONAGE THRILLERS & THEIR ENDURING POPULARITY
The best fictional characters in thrillers, crime, and horror are those that are dislocated from the majority of humanity because they have traits, skills, and a mindset that put them at odds with obedient conformity. These characters can be ultimately good, yet unhinged – think Dirty Harry pointing a Magnum .44 at your face, and Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher beating a gang of local town bad guys to a pulp after he’s predetermined their weaknesses. And they can also be bad, yet brilliantly charming – the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, and serial killer Hannibal Lecter are notable examples. These protagonists and antagonists prowl through the dark recesses in the pages in our best books, moving through populations of decent people and ne’er-do-wells who’ve no inkling as to the lethal capabilities of the stranger in their midst.
But, these dislocated strangers don’t exist in true life and can’t. A real Dirty Harry would have been suspended from the San Francisco Police Department within minutes of his first case. A Jack Reacher-wannabe would likely end up begging on the streets or in prison, with no crime to solve. Vampires don’t exist, and thus their penetrative analogical raison d’être has become passé in the minds of many young ladies who’ve turned to the more credible possibility of a 50 Shades of Grey personality. And most serial killers turn out to be rather disappointing rednecks who don’t know what Chianti is but do look perfect for drinking Bourbon straight from the bottle while playing an extra in the movie Deliverance.
There is only one person that is real and at the same time charms, fascinates, and terrifies us on the fictional page. That person is a spy. Like Lestat, he is a creature that sucks out enough of a victim’s secret soul to satiate the spy’s needs but doesn’t kill him unless necessary; a loner, like Harry and Reacher, who operates in an environment where laws don’t apply unless he gets caught; a sociopathic or rather other-creature man who knows his wine and art and has brilliant perception that would make junior FBI agents like Clarice Starling wobbly in the throat, heart, and knees.
Spies are Machiavellians. We steal and deploy multiple personalities because we want you to think we are you, or endearing, or otherwise personas of what you want. We serve good and bad depending on one’s outlook. We are always alone and look at the world from the altitude of a satellite. In fiction, you want to know who we are yet you are fully cognisant that our lives are ones you wish to know only on paper. You like Jason Bourne but wouldn’t invite him for dinner, I suspect. After all, he might inadvertently trigger a Treadstone assassination team to come to your house. Less importantly, what would you say to him while serving him a hearty bowl of chicken chasseur? Maybe you’d ask James Bond to pop over and mix some martinis to lighten the mood, though you’d probably need to lock up your loved ones in case he whisks them away in his Aston Martin.
We love reading about spies because they are, in essence, the living persona of all that is possible. They are sometimes our guardians, and other times our worst enemies. That dichotomy, coupled with our desire to know who spies really are beneath the layer upon layer of their misdirection, makes them fascinating in real life and enduring on the fictional page.
Matthew Dunn is author of the Spycatcher novels. His latest, Slingshot, is published by Orion and is out now in hardback and ebook, and future novella Counterspy (26 August 2014) and novel Dark Spies (7 October 2014) will be published by HarperCollins.