Sam Knight’s New Book
I went to a book launch on Saturday. Well, it was the local launch. I believe the main launch was in London at the Army and Navy Club a couple of weeks ago. As I live near the author and got an invite for the local one I saved myself the train fare and hotel costs and attended that.
The book was Sam Knight’s MILFORD ULTIMATUM. It is about a British ex pat in Bahrain who develops a crush on a local girl with Saudi connections. He is working as a security advisor and things are obviously not about to run smoothly. Throw in a Palestinian connection and British, US and Israeli security interest and we have a witches brew of potential mayhem and intrigue.
Sam has a great background for this work. He worked in the gulf, not as a security advisor I hasten to add, but he knows the territory well and as a former journalist he knows how to write. His ability to build on his experience and extrapolate what ifs promises an intriguing and exciting journey through current tensions.
Available now on Amazon or direct through Carys Books, the Milford Ultimatum is well worth getting. Well written, carefully crafted, believable thriller stories with a human edge are not as common as you might think. Usually one or more of those essential ingredients are missing. Sam has left none out of the Milford Ultimatum and has baked an exceedingly good yarn. If you only buy one thriller this year, make it the Milford Ultimatum. If you want to know more click on the Carys Books logo below
Publicity for this series passed me by and it was by chance that I caught the last ten minutes of it on radio this morning. Intrigued, I immediately went and listened to the whole thing on iPlayer. It was fascinating to listen to authors of the quality and success of Martin Amis, Howard Jacobson and Deborah Mogach talking about novel writing and being a novelist. The episode title was ‘Thou Shalt Not Bore’. It didn’t.
One thing that struck me was how certain things are self evident to one writer as a keystone to the novel and either irrelevant or anathema to another. The VS Pritchett comment ‘There’s no such thing as plot, only characters’ was trotted out as an introduction to a discussion about character development. Deborah Mogach waxed lyrical about how vital an interest in character development was and she described a sort of ‘method writing’ whereby she became the character for a period in order to immerse herself in that person’s psyche, to understand how the character reacted as they went through the book. Will Self confessed to a total lack of interest in character. Mogach suggested later in a section on the dodgy middle of novels that the immersion in and development of character was what got the author through that period (the bit readers skip). At this point Robert McCrum, the ring master of the series, cunningly allowed Paul Auster and Siri Hustverdt to recall an encounter with Mickey Spillane who observed, ‘Nobody reads a book to get to the middle’. Spillane at that time had sold something like 175 million books and didn’t worry about fitting into the ‘literary’ fiction world. He also said to them ‘I am a writer, you guys are authors.’ In the pecking order of the literary world that put them clearly way above him. No doubt he failed to avoid cliché, adverbs and repetition of words. Interesting that Amis derided this last piece of advice often given to aspiring writers; ‘avoid repeating a word.’ His advice was that, if it were the word you needed, you should use it three times to show you knew what you were doing.
So an iconoclast perhaps. On the other hand he revealed he finished Lionel Asbo (could anyone who hadn’t got his reputation get away with such a clichéd name/title?) and then spent a year revising it. His reason was he hadn’t put any suffering in it. I guess spending a year rewriting something produces sufficient suffering for a whole raft of novels.
This led us neatly to McCrum’s comment that ‘finishing’ the novel was in fact as Churchill said about something else entirely: ‘Not the end, nor even the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning’. Editors and rewrites again.
I shall definitely be listening to the second programme, a room of one’s own ‘Thou Shalt not Hide’.