Mick Herron Meet the Author


Mick Herron

Jim Naughtie speaks to Mick Herron about his new spy fiction thriller, London Rules.


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Now it's time for Meet the Author.

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If you read any of the four Mick

Herron novels you will know what to

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expect in the fifth, London Rules.

Skulduggery and streets alive with

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terror, a political class that is

self-centred and often corrupt, time

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is pressing and the threat real and

the ramshackle outfit, never fleeing

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by the rules, has to try and save

the day, welcome.

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Jackson Lamb and his many men and

women at a pretty rough lot?

Sort

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of. They are quite ordinary people

in many ways and I'm quite keen on

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these spies having daily lives in

contemporary London.

That's right,

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they don't lead gilded lives, they

are not pampered and they are under

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enormous pressure with a terrorist

threat in this book and they will go

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into that in some detail but not too

much. They are pretty rough in the

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way they deal with each other in the

office stop what strikes me is that

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very seldom are they really nice to

each other.

Very seldom. That

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certain bonds between different

characters, not as a group very

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much, but there are pairings that

happens the series.

Indeed.

I like

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to think in the group seems

particularly, I always have at least

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one scene where everybody is their

are all at once, and on those

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occasions they reach some kind of

harmony, usually working on the

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problem.

It may be harmonious in

that sense and they do care about

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each other and their situations but

you never get them saying, what are

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you really like? They seem to be

driven by a desire not to show too

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much of themselves. Do you think it

is a characteristic of people who

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find themselves in that world?

It

may be a characteristic of people

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who work in offices and I focus on

the order in this of these people.

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-- ordinariness. And they are spies

but to an extent they could be

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anything and the relationships are

determined by the fact they are all

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frustrated in their ambitions and

clearers and all having to work

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together and don't want to.

And the

point is that if we met any of them

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in the street from would have no

idea what they do by the way they

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behave, which is the point.

I was

looking in the tube on the way in

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this morning trying to spot

characters.

One of the things, and I

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am trying not to give too much away

because it is a tense plot, but

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there's a blackmail threats made

against someone and it is made

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directly by someone who is quite

high up in the establishment. Do you

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think that in that form could happen

is that it clear is that?

Almost

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certainly.

A real threat. We have

got this photograph, and we talked

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about this beforehand, but we can

see it involves somebody who is

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involved in cross dressing and

therefore is going to produce an

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embarrassing series of stories in

the papers and the questioners, will

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he brazen it out and say, this is

me, or will he fold at the threat of

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blackmail?

Part of the reason for

introducing that blackmail was

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because I was interested in allowing

this character who is mostly not

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pleasant to have some integrity and

bravery so he is facing a challenge

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and will he toughed it out Cave, and

so the decision he partly makes to

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tough it out indicates that as a

court of integrity.

When you're a

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character like that in circumstances

like that, do you try however hard

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it might be to put yourself in that

position?

Always, I try to write

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characters from the Inside Out. The

only character they don't do that

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with is Jackson Lamb himself. You

see what he does and says but never

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what he thinks feels.

To somebody

who hasn't read the four preceding

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books and might perhaps pick up this

one and go back, how would you

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describe Jackson Lamb?

The best way

of describing him would be to meet

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him. To enter his department of the

Secret Service were all the failure

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is get assigned. You have to go

round the back of the building

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through the door that jams and all

the way up to the top attic and when

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you open the door you would find a

very dark room was no natural light

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because yoghurt as the blind down,

and you would see a very large man

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with his feet up on the desk, the

aid would be noxious because he

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smokes and is aggressively

flatulent.

That's a Marxist

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territory. -- how he marks his

territory.

Do you know Jackson Lamb

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well are you still discovering him?

Still discovering him although in

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the book I am working on at the

moment that is more revealed about

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him.

Are you going inside him for

the first time?

He is seeing things

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he has not said before.

What will we

learn about him that we don't know

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without giving away the plot.

A bit

more about his past. That is really

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the core to the character.

There's a

sense in which we had always meant

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to ask the question, how did he end

up your? We might know a bit of the

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story but we don't know the whole

story.

That is partly because I

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don't know what either yet.

So it

wasn't deliberate to conceal his

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background, just that as you began

to tease out the character you

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discovered as well that there was a

mystery about him which is a

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mystification use year with the

reader.

The character was never

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meant to take the central role he

has come to do but as soon as I

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started writing I realised there

were opportunities in a way I had

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never done before, in order to bring

humour into the books and also that

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larger than life character who has a

past cloaked in mystery.

The other

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fascinating thing about this story

and it is quite unusual is that you

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set it not just in the contemporary

world, in a London principally where

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the threat of a terrorist act is

ever present, but you have been very

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specific. There has been a

referendum on Brexit, the political

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figures who they are not a

resemblance in an imitator of way

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but a broad resemblance to

characters we might recognise only

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political spectrum, but as

individuals but as people with

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points of view. Quite a risky thing

to do, quite bold?

It didn't seem to

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me at the time that was the case, I

was simply writing about the world I

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find myself in. The novel had been

in preparation before the referendum

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and they didn't start writing to

afterwords and it changed a lot of

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things. I hadn't foreseen the result

of the referendum, few people had,

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but as soon as it happened a lot of

things became clear, clear from the

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terrorised reactions from a lot of

the Cabinet ministers who had

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organised that, from the cowardice

of the Prime Minister as he realised

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what he had done, and the Cabinet of

backstabbing in the leadership

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election afterwards, we it was clear

we were in for a long period of

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farce and chaos. London Rules is a

thriller and dramatic events happen

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but the political backdrop is one we

have all been living through.

The

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other thing finally about this book

is that you resist very deliberately

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the idea that on the last page

everything can be neatly tied up, it

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is all over. Maybe something has

happened that avoids a cataclysm but

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the idea that calm has been restored

is not really what you comfortable

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with?

We live in a state of ongoing

tension and it can't be solved the

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eye final chapter.

So you say,

prepare to be disturbed and don't

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think you can relax when it is over?

Yes.

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