Why do I write spy thrillers? I’m fascinated by the idea of people lying for a living. Fake identities, secret meetings, shadowing and surveillance – how can that not make excellent story material? Motivations, too. What makes someone betray their country or their comrades, colleagues or loved ones? Spies are motivated by loyalty to their country while their success depends on persuading others to become traitors. And I love John Le Carre – who doesn’t? My other favourite spy thriller writer is Mick Herron who brilliantly manages to incorporate comedy into otherwise serious thrillers.
Why China and Tibet? This is inspired by my own travel. I lived in Hong Kong for a few months back in 1999, and I came to love the place. In 2011 I did a big overland journey, by train all the way from Brighton UK to Beijing, then all round China by train or bus and then overland across Tibet to Kathmandu. Clarke and Fairchild cover a lot of the same ground and I hope I’ve described the extreme contrasts in climate from the dripping humidity of the Chinese cities through to exotic Xining in the vast northwest of China, then across to Lhasa with its combination of old and new, Tibetan and Chinese, and consequent political conflict. And of course, the Himalayas, of which my experience was a one-night stay in a comfortable tent at Everest Base Camp plus a hike up to the base itself of about 90 minutes due to my travelling companion and me getting lost… Clarke and Fairchild have a much more difficult time of things, as well as the monks they are searching for.
Why this story? The main character in Reborn (Jinpa) is based on a real person, the Panchen Lama, whose whereabouts are unknown since he was taken by the Chinese authorities at the age of six. This makes him the world’s youngest political prisoner, assuming he is still alive. The reason he was taken is that he was identified as the Panchen Lama (a reincarnated figure of incredible significance within the Tibetan faith) by the current Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India because China doesn’t recognise his authority. My story is an imaginary hypothesis based on this character. The contrast between Tibet’s ancient Buddhist beliefs of karma and reincarnation contrasts so strongly with China’s massive wealth, power and atheism. It seems extraordinary that such a figure could be considered so dangerous to modern-day China that he has to spend his life locked away somewhere.
I’m currently working on the sequel, based in Russia and Georgia. I’m intending to write a series of around six or seven novels. All of them will feature Rose Clarke and John Fairchild, and their stories will progress through the series. Clarke will pursue her MI6 career with variable success, and Fairchild will eventually discover the secrets of his own past. Each novel will be set in a different part of the world. I also have two short stories that are free to download for anyone who joins my mailing list – see www.tmparris.com. These are based in the Philippines and in Croatia.
Reborn is available on Amazon (price $0.99) here: http://mybook.to/tmparrisReborn. I’d love to hear from readers, so please contact me on email@example.com.