Authors in the Media – August

On July 20th Michael Smith launched his new book at Bletchley Park, The Real Special Relationship: The True Story of How the British and US Secret Services Work Together, published on August 4.

Michael Smith with (l-r) former CIA Director ⁦John Brennan, former MI6 Chief John Scarlett and former GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan.
At Bletchley Park: Michael Smith with (l-r) former CIA Director ⁦John Brennan, former MI6 Chief John Scarlett and former GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan.
Mark Urban reported for BBC Newsnight at the launch of The Real Special Relationship from Bletchley Park, including interviews with Sir John Scarlett, John Brennan and Michael Smith. Interviews begin at 28:00.

The Real Special Relationship was also in The Times’ recommended reading list for the new prime minister.

Alan Judd reviewed the book for the Spectator.

Michael also appeared on the True Spies podcast, narrated by Vanessa Kirby, with former CIA case officer Jim Lawler to lift the lid on a rare joint operation between the CIA and MI6.

Seth Thevoz’s new book Behind Closed Doors (published July 28) had wide coverage in the national newspapers, including The Observer, The Times, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

He also appeared on Times Radio with Michael Portillo. The interview can be found here, approximately 1 hour 35 minutes in.

Neil Robinson’s spy novel The Other Side of Trust was reviewed on the popular Spybrary podcast.

Mark Simmons appeared on BBC Radio Cornwall discussing his new book Alistair MacLean’s War.

Finally, Mary Novakovich is featured in this month’s edition of The Lady Magazine, recalling her first trip to Croatia. Her new travelogue/memoir, My Family and Other Enemies: Life and Travels in Croatia’s Hinterland, is published by Bradt on 18 August. In the meantime, Bradt has just published an extract on its website.

Authors in the Media – July

A round up of agency authors’ recent press coverage and media appearances.

Sarah-Louise MillerSarah-Louise Miller features as an expert on the new documentary series, now airing on Sky History on Mondays at 9pm – ‘Bomber: Terror of WWII’.

She also helped actor Ralf Little investigate his grandfather Arthur’s experiences during the Second World War on BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Mary Novakovich has been busy writing for The Guardian and The Telegraph, with all the best recommendations for traveling hidden Croatia and under the radar French cities.

Dan Collyns reports from South America for The Guardian, on the tragic circumstances leading to the death of fellow journalist and colleague Dom Phillips, including the Javari valley: the lawless primal wilderness where Dom Phillips went missing and the narco war in the deadly Amazon region where he disappeared.

Michael Smith and Henry Schlesinger teamed up for a 3-parts series for the True Spies podcast, narrated by actress Vanessa Kirby, to uncover the real stories behind some of history’s most explosive honeytrap operations: Operation Diamond; Anna Chapman and Leon Trotsky.

Henry also wrote pieces for HistoryNet: Founding Forger: How Benjamin Franklin Mastered the Art of Fake News and for Graydon Carter’s AirMail on Hardy Amies: The Spy Who Dressed Me.

Hardy Amies
(CREDIT David Montgomery/Getty Images) British fashion designer Hardy Amies (1909 – 2003), circa 1985. (Photo by David Montgomery/Getty Images)

Xue Yiwei was reviewed in the TLS for his new novel Celia, Misoka, I by Jeff Wasserstrom.

Finally, Seth Thevoz, whose latest book is Behind Closed Doors: the Secret Life of London’s Private Members’ Clubs, is quoted in The Guardian about the Carlton Club’s links to Tories

Sarah Black Spy Series by Lucy Hooft to Burning Chair

World English Rights have gone to Burning Chair for the former assistant to Queen Rania and author long listed for The Caledonia Prize Lucy Hooft‘s THE KING’S PAWN and THE HEAD OF THE SNAKE, the first two books in the Sarah Black spy series, based on the author’s real-life experiences.

The series follows the career of a spy who begins as a naïve young graduate, enticed into a career with MI6 (or so she thinks) by a silver-tongued spook; struggling to understand her place in her mentor’s murky hierarchy.

The first novel sees Sarah sent to the Caucasus by Michael, the head of an off-the-books operational section of MI6. She is being used as an expendable and deniable agent, but through her natural pluck (and a hefty dose of luck) she survives and uncovers the real villain and a Russian plot to assassinate the Georgian and US Presidents.

In the second book, Sarah – still inexperienced but significantly tougher with the confidence of a lucky start behind her – strikes out on her own without Michael’s help to war-torn Sierra Leone to bring the villain of book 1 to justice.

Lucy studied languages and philosophy at Oxford and joined the Foreign Office straight out of university in search of adventure and new people and places. She quickly moved across to the Department for International Development (DFID), where she spent time in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, China and Sierra Leone. She left Sierra Leone to join her now husband in Jordan, taking the long way there across the Sahara, Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and Syria in a much-beloved Land Rover. In Jordan, she worked for Her Majesty Queen Rania while spending much time bumping around the phenomenal Jordanian desert.

After Jordan, she spent several years in a jungle camp in Gabon surrounded by elephants and humpback whales, which is where the Sarah Black books began. They took life, as a way to record all the best bits of people she had met and places she had been, with a plot to make them much more exciting. Lucy has always plausibly denied being a spy—but she wrote the books to show what that life might have been like.

She now lives at the end of the world in Lüderitz, Namibia, crafting stories and making films about the adventure of growing giant kelp.

THE KING’S PAWN will publish in 2022 followed by THE HEAD OF THE SNAKE in 2023.

Authorised Biography of WHITNEY STRAIGHT to The History Press

The History Press has secured World Rights to the first authorised biography of the racing driver, aviator, war hero, and industrialist Whitney Straight.

A gripping tale of speed, heroism, romance, determination, and tragedy: Whitney Straight was born into great wealth in New York, the eldest of three children – his sister would become an Oscar-winning actress and his brother the youngest of the Cambridge spies. He dropped out of Cambridge to become an outstanding racing driver and ran his own team against Hitler’s Silver Arrows. A qualified pilot at 17, he revolutionised aircraft design.

Whitney Straight

His extraordinary war saw him rise from Flying Officer to Air Commodore. He survived the disastrous invasion of Norway, a crash-landing in occupied France, and spent a year as a PoW. He turned down Churchill’s proposal of a career in politics to become CEO of BOAC, transforming it from a sales vehicle for outmoded aircraft into a national airline to be proud of. At Rolls-Royce, he railed against a company dominated by engineers who made poor businessmen, and after the national tragedy of the great company going bust, played a fundamental role in the splitting of the auto and aero businesses still seen today.

Paul Kenny has been granted unfettered access to Straight’s diaries and photograph albums and has scoured archives on both sides of the Atlantic, leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of the first full story of one of the twentieth century’s greatest mavericks.

The book will be published in September 2023. Audio Rights have been sold to Blackstone Audio USA.

LENIN: ONE AGAINST ALL by Roberto Echavarren to Academica Press

World English Language rights to Uruguayan poet, essayist, and translator and winner of the National Prize of the Ministry of Culture of Uruguay Roberto Echavarren‘s One Against All: Lenin, His Government and Legacy have gone to Academica Press.

One century later, we are now in a position in which we can achieve a certain balance in our views on what Lenin’s government meant for Russia and for the world. With chapters on the evolution of land tenancy in Russia, the collectivization of land under Stalin, and the suppression of sexual minorities under Soviet rule, this book adds breadth and scope to our understanding of Lenin’s government and legacy.

The stream of new archival material from Russia is dwindling. Overwhelmed by history’s damning evidence, apprehensive before the West and its scholars, and encouraged by Vladimir Putin’s autocratic nationalism, Russians are closing their archives.

One Against All: Lenin, His Government and Legacy, was originally written and published in Spanish. It will now be available in English translation.

Roberto taught at New York University from 1975 to 1995 in the Spanish and Portuguese, and Comparative Literature Departments. He is the director of La Flauta Mágica publishing company, specializing in critical bilingual editions of poetry and the rescue of major poetical works written in Spanish. Prize wins include the National Prize of the Ministry of Culture of Uruguay, essay; National Prize of the Ministry of Culture of Uruguay, poetry; Nancy Bacelo Foundation Poetry Prize; Cultural Center of Spain Theatre Prize. He was also awarded the 2021 Amado Alonso International Prize of Literary Criticism for his book El pensamiento chino (Chinese Thought) and will be published soon by Editorial Pre-Textos in Spain.