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Jude Lyon of MI6 has narrowly foiled the traitor Fowle’s plot to level London, but the public are demanding answers.
Answers the government doesn’t have.
As the country reels, a new populist political figure carves a stratospheric trajectory – but is he all he seems?
In Moscow the President is furious. The world now knows the destructive power of the programme his people had been developing, and as the Russians scramble to understand how it got into Fowle’s hands, they start to worry that perhaps it could be used against them . . .
But Jude Lyon has just one question on his mind: Guy Fowle is missing, with nothing left to lose,
So what is he planning next?
Seething with political machinations, burning with blood-thumping action, and featuring the best returning MI6 operative since James Bond ‘The Survivor’ brings the espionage novel crashing into the modern day.
PAJNewman (PN): ‘The Survivor’ follows just over a year from the publication of ‘The Saboteur’. How has your last year been? I think I’m correct in thinking that you have moved to America. Is that altering the way you work and are you still planning on publishing at the rate you’ve been for this trilogy?
Simon Conway (SC): I moved to the USA in March with my wife who is reporting on US politics for the BBC. I’m still travelling but at a slight slower pace. This year I’ve been in East Africa, Ukraine and the South Pacific for work but with long enough between trips to settle in here in Washington, DC. It’s a fascinating and in many ways disturbing time to be here. If anything, the atmosphere here is more febrile than in the wake of the storming of the capitol. It feels like democracy is under threat and there is a danger of politically motivated violence. It’s rich material for future books. I am enjoying writing and I’m hoping to keep up the pace.
PN: How are you getting on with balancing the demands of the publisher, the public and your other job for the HALO Trust?
SC: I’m finding a balance. For the last year I’ve been working part-time for HALO unless I’m overseas on mission. That gives me more time to time to stare out the window, which I’ve convinced myself is all important for writers. I have a large laurel oak just outside my window in Georgetown and watching it change with the seasons has been ceaselessly diverting.
PN: In ‘The Survivor’ Jude is still recovering from his injuries sustained at the end of his last outing and London remains in ruins. The marketing is saying that this concludes the Jude Lyon series. Is this confirmed or can you imagine bring Jude back in future?
SC: Put this way, we may see more of those who survive…
PN: How do you feel about this outing for Jude? Are you finding your attitude to your work has shifted across the three novels?
SC: Jude is understandably scarred by what has happened in the last two books and I think we see a more reflective side of him and Yulia Ermolaeva in The Survivor. There is a quiet pleasure in writing characters that you are familiar with and I’m going to miss some of them. At the same time, I wanted to keep up the pace. I got a message from Mick Herron a couple of days ago, who read an advance copy. He said that it’s like being “strapped to a rocket” which pleased me no end. It was always going to be a challenge to complete the trilogy given the mayhem caused in The Saboteur and I hope that I’ve achieved it.
PN: How easy or hard was it to avoid the Covid overtures to some of the decisions taken by the Prime Minister in the novel. Do you get satisfaction out of the layers of comic irony this generates?
SC: I think that Covid has highlighted the fragility and inter-connectedness of modern society and that is particularly interesting if you are exploring its vulnerability to acts of sabotage and how ill-prepared our political system is to respond. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the books has been creating the politicians: Frank Booth the self-pitying former Foreign Secretary responsible for an illegal rendition in The Stranger; Gabriel Morley, the hapless Chancellor of the Exchequer in The Saboteur who becomes a Russian pawn; and Lee Chapeaux, the youthful insurgent who sees himself as a latter-day Cromwell and becomes Prime Minister in The Survivor without facing the electorate. He is quite happy to burn everything down to rebuild from the ashes.
PN: I know one of your novels is in development for TV (https://www.simonconwaybooks.com/rock-creek-park) Would you be willing to let this trilogy be adapted? If so, do you have an actor in mind for either Jude or Guy?
SC: I’m open minded. They’d have to do a lot of damage to London! I don’t have a specific actor in mind. That’s for others to decide. Who do you have in mind?
PN: In terms of the HALO Trust, is there any way for readers to help support the work that you are doing?
SC: Absolutely, I encourage people to follow The HALO Trust on social media and spread the message. Take a look at www.halotrust.org. We have been quite successful at public fund raising for our work in Ukraine.
PN: What is the question you wished interviewers and readers would ask but never do?
SC: I think that interviewers and readers find their way to the right questions.
Simon Conway is a former British Army officer and international aid worker. He has cleared landmines and the other debris of war across the world.
As Co-Chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition he successfully campaigned to achieve an international ban on cluster bombs.
He is currently working as Director of Capability for The HALO Trust.
He lives in Edinburgh with his wife the journalist and broadcaster Sarah Smith. He has two daughters. (Biography courtesy of www.simonconwaybooks.com)