The idea of this is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” three – or five, depending on which version you see – other writers to do the same. Then, the writer posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

I was tagged by Dan Holloway:
I had the pleasure to meet Dan a year ago, when we appeared on an author panel together at London Book Fair, for the launch of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
(He even gave me his own coffee when he saw I didn’t have any!)
He has recently released “Evie and Guy: A novel with no words”, which is available for download at Dan’s site there.
I’ve enjoyed exchanging notes with Dan now and then over the last year, regarding some lesser-known gems of European literature and cinema!

I was also tagged by Steve Christie, author of crime thriller, Good Deed:
Good Deed is a fast paced crime novel that introduces a new Scottish detective hero, DI Ronnie Buchanan. Events take Buchanan from his base in Aberdeen on a frantic journey around all the major Scottish cities as his increasingly deadly pursuit of a mysterious criminal master mind known only as Vince comes to a breath-taking climax back in Aberdeen.
“The pace of Good Deed is exceptional and unremitting. It is the kind of book that demands to be read in one sitting, but most readers will be so breathless as the saga unfolds without pause that they will need occasional rests before eagerly returning for more.”

The writers I have tagged in my turn appear at the bottom of this post.


What is the working title for your book?

Agency Woman.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

I started writing the book in January 2006. The psychological (and actual) remilitarisation of the West after the post- 9/11 declaration of War on Terror had been in full swing for some time by then. Cases of extraordinary rendition, abduction of suspected terrorists, using air bases on UK soil, had come to light in the media. It occurred to me that, in an age of bureaucracy and subcontracting, such an operation taking place in the remote Scottish Highlands, could go terribly wrong.

What genre does your book fall under?

Psychological suspense/espionage thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm…I’d have to organise a time machine and go back to the 1970s for the cast: Jenny Agutter, Roman Polanski, Ian Bannen, Freddie Jones…Peter Firth…Ruth Gordon...and then, in that ideal world, if I could get Polanski or Kubrick to direct…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The most reluctant, traumatised secret agent in the world is lured out of early retirement by lust, only to find his small Scottish Agency has taken on a deadly subcontracting job it can never possibly fulfil.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published…or what I prefer to call E-published!
I had my first, second, and fifth, novels signed up by literary agencies.
Agency Woman is my fourth novel, but one which I’ve been working away at now years…and all independently.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I said, the “War on Terror”…but I can also see the seed of subtle inspiration that came my way via Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold…and the off-the-wall aspects of The Eiger Sanction. Also, the beautiful beaches and mountains of Sutherland, wonderful locations, and seldom used for international intrigue!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The mountain. The mountain becomes an object of near-spiritual quest for the novel’s protagonist, a place to head for when the horrors at sea level overwhelm, at some point I realised that the mountain had somehow become the heart of the book.  

 *** The following three writers are all exceptionally talented, which is why I am tagging them for The Next Big Thing.

Roz Morris, author of My Memories of a Future Life and Nail Your Novel.

Orla Broderick, author of The January Flower.

Reb Macrath, author of The Vanishing Magic of Snow and Nobility.


glitter noir said…
Thanks for tagging me, John--and for ramping up my interest in Agency Woman. Sounds weird, wild and wonderful. This is probably Top Secret but: when do you expect to release it?
Thanks Reb, all the Ministry of Top Secrets will allow me to say at this point will be a 2013 release for Agency Woman!
Jan Needle said…
i'm looking forward to it john. and thanks for the guides to the others.
Mark Chisnell said…
Yeah, lots of trails to follow back to good books in this post!
Dan Holloway said…
Particularly like the sound of the looming presence of the mountain. The quest/presence of the wilderness/mountain as existential force element within a thriller makes me think of a film I'm sure must be high on your favourites list - Tarkovsky's existential thriller Runaway Train
Thanks Jan...thanks Mark...Happy Trails!
Thanks Dan!
Runaway Train is a visceral experience first hit me in the head 20 years ago...
Then was struck by the Shakespearian quote at end:
"No beast so fierce it does not know some pity; Yet I know none, and so am not a beast."

Jon Voight definitely playing out of Midnight Cowboy character in that one...

I never was conscious of who directed Runaway Train...checked just now, though, and not Tarkovsky, but close colleague of his, and a co-writer...and another "ovsky" with same first name, Andrei Konchalovsky...glad I looked this up, as the idea of a Tarkovsky-directed The Master and Margarita strikes me as wonderful...also something did go wrong with 2nd half of Ken Russell's Altered States, maybe Tarkovsky at helm would have kept control of that, unless it was editorial interference by the money-men producers that caused the problem, in which case no studio director in Hollywood can control Peckinpah found out:
"Yet interestingly enough, projects Tarkovsky had in the works (but never got to) include adaptations of FAUST, Carlos Castaneda’s mystical text THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, and Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastic satire THE MASTER AND MARGARITA. An even more intriguing possibility was breached by actress Natalaya Bonderchuck (the space babe of SOLARIS), who in an interview on the Criterion SOLARIS DVD hinted that Tarkovsky tried to find work in Hollywood in the late seventies. This would appear to be confirmed by filmmaker Ken Russell, who in his 1991 autobiography reveals that Tarkovsky was once under consideration to direct ALTERED STATES (1980).
Tarkovsky working in Hollywood? That seems a pretty outrageous idea, though maybe not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Tarkovsky’s onetime colleague Andrei Konchalovsy (co-writer of THE STREAMROLLER AND THE VIOLIN and ANDREI ROUBLEV) relocated to the U.S. in the 1980s and even thrived for a time, helming RUNAWAY TRAIN, SHY PEOPLE, TANGO AND CASH and the miniseries version of THE ODYSSEY.
An Andrei Tarkovsky directed film of ALTERED STATES doesn’t seem that farfetched given his evident interest in horror and science fiction. As for the action cinema so integral to Hollywood, I find it a little harder to picture how Tarkovsky might have fared, although Konchalovsky’s example gives some indication--I believe the final scenes of RUNAWAY TRAIN provide a tantalizing suggestion of how a Tarkovsky directed action movie might have played."
glitter noir said…
Don't want to get 'off track' here, but I loved Runaway Train--except for one thing. And this is odd because I've enjoyed many of his later films, once he had learned to relax. But Eric Roberts's voice ruined the film somewhat for me. Too much straining for the baritone high notes. Too bad, but when he learned to chill his career had gone south--pretty much all straight to DVD. Unless Tarantino rediscovers him...
glitter noir said…
Tears and sadness. Good Deed, shown above, really caught my fancy--till I checked it out and saw it priced nearly ten U.S. bucks. Not the author's call, I'm sure. But I can't see that price tag working in his favor.
Margaret Tanner said…
Hi John,
Great blog. Agency Woman sounds fascinating. When I first saw the title, I thought, goodness me, I have converted John Logan and he has written a romance,(as in dating agency), but it is another one of his excellent, edge of the seat thrillers. The location is a new twist on the usual terrorist/post 9/11 stories.


Yes, I remember Eric Roberts' voice in Runaway Train clearly, especially the way he said Voight's character's name. But for me it worked, as Roberts' character was so dominated and overwhelmed by Voight's, and by the situation's reality, and by the cold, that the animalistic, whining voice seemed to fit. Sometimes his speech is like a perfect mixture of crying and talking (a bit reminiscent of Norman Mailer's observation of Brando's voice as that of being muted, mumbling, animalistic, never quite expressing what the audience felt lay hidden beneath)(until, in Last Tango in Paris, Mailer felt that Brando had finally "said it all out loud" at last)

Yes, Steve's publisher, Ringwood, has chosen to set the ebook price high, perhaps to encourage more paperback sales, and less ebook.
(But don't cry about it, Reb, or you'll start to sound like Eric Roberts in Runaway Train!)
Thanks Margaret!
Yes, by talking so soon about the book I have destroyed some of the ambiguity...and I like to preserve ambiguity long as possible usually.
I quite liked the idea of people thinking that maybe it was a book about a woman from an employment agency or something...(or even a literary agency?)
But now the secret is out!
All best,
(PS...there IS a hefty dose of romance in the book, though, version of romance anyway!)
Honoured to be tagged, John! And Agency Woman sounds like a heady mix. Windswept locations and cold war... delicious! How on earth am I going to follow a trailer like that?

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