Charles Cumming is a British writer of spy fiction. He was educated at Eton College (1985-1989) and the University of Edinburgh (1990-1994), where he graduated with 1st Class Honours in English Literature. The Observer has described him as “the best of the new generation of British spy writers who are taking over where John le Carré and Len Deighton left off”.
1. How did you get started writing?
I wrote a short story at my secondary school which won a prize. That gave me the confidence to continue writing fiction. I published a couple more stories while studying at Edinburgh University.
2. What drew you to write a novel?
When I was 25, I was interviewed for a job by MI6. The whole experience was so fascinating that I felt it was crying out to be dramatised. So I wrote A Spy by Nature.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
Apart from John le Carré, the writers I most enjoy and admire are John Updike, Martin Amis, Richard Ford and Graham Greene.
4. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
I was lucky in that I found an agent quite quickly who was able to sell A Spy by Nature to Penguin. But the book was turned down by several other publishers.
5. There are many interesting characters in your Novels, do you have a particular favourite one?
I enjoyed writing about Kit Carradine, the hero of The Man Between. Miles Coolidge, the grotesque CIA officer in Typhoon, is another favourite.
6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novels?
I like to visit the places I am writing about, to smell the air in Shanghai, so to speak, to taste the food in Istanbul and walk the ground in Odessa. For The Man Between I made two separate trips to Casablanca and Marrakech in order to try to recreate the atmosphere in Morocco.
7. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
There’s a little bit of me in Kit Carradine and Thomas Kell, but otherwise I tend not to draw on real people when creating characters. The only time I’ve ever done that was in The Hidden Man. Ben Keen’s journalist wife was based on somebody I knew very well at the time.
8. Do you have a particular favourite place you like to set your novels?
I’m increasingly drawn to setting my books here at home in the UK. London is a great city to write about. My next novel will feature a character born and raised in Edinburgh.
9. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
Maybe that’s for other people to judge! It would be impossible for any novelist not to reveal something of their own personality in the stories they tell and the characters they create.
10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned.
I’m working on a new idea, but it’s too early to go into any detail. I don’t want to jinx it!
11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any crime writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?
It would have been fascinating to meet Raymond Chandler, but I’m not sure how he would have felt about collaborating on a book. He wouldn’t have needed any help when it came to writing.
12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?
Don’t give up your day job. You’ll need the money.
He risked it all to become a spy. Now he must pay the price.
A gripping new standalone spy thriller from the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year and ‘the master of the modern spy thriller’ (Mail on Sunday).
One simple task for British Intelligence takes him into a world of danger.
Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invites him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown.
But the glamour of being a spy is soon tainted by fear and betrayal, as Carradine finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok – a mysterious fugitive with links to international terrorism.
Bartok is a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on prominent right-wing politicians have spread hatred and violence throughout the West.
As the coils of a ruthless plot tighten around him, Carradine finds himself drawn to Lara. Caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, he soon faces an awful choice: to abandon Lara to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.
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