On the bandwagon by Jan Needle

Huge jollities over poor old Rudy. The weekend when Endeavour Books put Death Order up for free, the Independent did a huge story headlined Adolf Hitler's Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess ‘murdered by British agents’ to stop him spilling wartime secrets - which is the nub of the novel.
Within hours the Daily Mail had lifted the Indy’s story, and fully credited their source, which in modern journalism terms might be something of a first! They also added a further twist: Nazi Rudolf Hess was 'murdered by British agents in prison to stop him revealing war secrets but Scotland Yard was told NOT to investigate'
Both papers named the Scotland Yard detective who undertook the enquiries – Detective Chief Superintendent Howard Jones – and also revealed that his investigation had been abruptly terminated on the orders of the DPP! They also named the British Army surgeon, Dr Hugh Thomas, who said the medical evidence proved that the prisoner who died in Spandau could not have been Hess.
In 1918, as an infantryman, a rifle bullet had passed through his lung from front to back. But Thomas revealed that the inevitable scars on the man’s torso did not in fact exist.
Germany, where the Nazis are still a source of shame and pain, were not long behind. The English-language internet news source The Local discovered a completely new angle. They reported:
The personal files of Rudolf Hess – Hitler’s right-hand man who flew to Britain in 1941 to attempt to end the war with a peace treaty – are going up for auction in the US. They could shed light on one of World War II's more mysterious events.
 This story, if true, is strange indeed. The papers were generally thought to have been lost to posterity many years ago. Like the British files, they will almost certainly have been heavily redacted if they do ever see the light of day.
The Lancashire Magazine took a robustly local line, with the heading MANCHESTER AUTHOR SCOOPS SCOTLAND YARD. Their piece was written by my friend and colleague Andrew Rosthorn, who has been investigating the Hess conundrum for many years. Characteristically generous, for if anyone scooped anyone, it was Andrew himself, not me.
Another friend who has been in on the tale for several years, Bernhard Mueller, is now well into translating the book into German. Be interesting to see what they make of it…
Anyway – as they say – life goes on, and another bonus of throwing in my lot with an ebook publisher rather than work my poor son Matti Gardner’s fingers to the bone is that they wanted me to write a sea book, as well. They knew of my novels based around the life and times of William Bentley, and when I told them they would be coming out soon anyway, asked for a novella, as a sort of ‘tie-in and taster.’
That struck me as a fantastic idea, so I threw myself into the fray. The result was a thirty thousand worder called The Devil’s Luck, which introduces Bentley’s extremely dangerous and unpleasant uncle, Daniel Swift, as a midshipman in his early twenties.
Among other things, the book limns in the way in which his later character became set. And gave me the chance to meet and develop some other characters, including one I fell in love with instantly, called Charlie Raven – or Craven Raven as he is cruelly dubbed by the captain of the Pointer.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing it, and it will be up on Amazon very shortly. I’ll announce it on Facebook and Kindle.
And in a way, it was all down to Herr Hess. Strange, isn’t it?



Lydia Bennet said…
Amazing timing! It's not clear from your post, did the indie and mail mention you and your book? have you been able to take marketing advantage of this scoop, apart from in the local piece? It can be more frustrating than anything when these coincidences happen and you can't do anything to connect yourself to them! Amazing too how these stories and conspiracy theories keep going, and things keep coming out - you'd imagine all docs would have been destroyed years ago.
Dennis Hamley said…
Jan, this whole business is developing into a synchronitic ganglion (if you'll pardon the expression) of extraordinary events which must make you dance with glee. But why should we be surprised? It's back to Arthur Koestler and coincidence - that we should not be surprised when it happens: rather we should be very alarmed if it doesn't. On that premiss is most fiction organised, as are some of the best things which happen in life. I'm fascinated by, and slightly suspicious of, the suddden reappearance of Hess's personal files. Would it be possible for you to see them? Might they ever be on the internet? I'm very chuffed about Charlie Raven. It will be bought and read, never fear. And reviewed as well.
Jan Needle said…
just got back from the badlands of leicestershire, where they don't have broadband (not in the village i go to, anyway). lydia, i didn't get a name check in the indie or mail - but i did get a rather lovely piece in the huffington post, which scooped a second story in the indie by 24 hours! it was all about this jan needle chap, written in the first person by me, and knocked about a bit by their subs i think. all true, but it feels a bit odd writing about yourself. book mentions galore, and fingers crossed. coincidence or synchronicity, it has been a fantastic few days. and endeavour press have sold several hundred copies in not time at all. flabbergasting.

what's more, dennis, on the back of the devil's luck, they've asked me if i'd like to write a series of novellas about nelson hisself! what a fabulous idea! i might have to give up beer drinking and folk music for a while. or then again, maybe not...

one thing is getting surer all the time. throwing in my lot with authors electric and the ebook world have been a wonderful move. better than popping ganglions!
Dennis Hamley said…
Wonderful, Jan. You're in REAL business again. How I envy you. And how I agree with you about AE. I wouldn't mind a few ganglions though. Perhaps when I reissue Ellen's People to coincide with the WW1 centenary one or two might boil up. Who knows?
But DON'T give anything up when you're writing. Golden rule.
Lydia Bennet said…
Good to hear, Jan, hope it keeps building for you!

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