Out of Mecklenburg, Spy novels, Writing

Cracking good reads for winter

The forecast in the UK for this weekend, and indeed the forseeable future, is rain and drizzle with the occasional downpour!

I hate this time of year, but the only consolation for the evenings drawing in so early is that it feels an absolute *necessity* to curl up with a good book. In my eyes, Frederick Forsyth and John le Carré are the all-time greats. No doubt I will revisit my favourites in the coming weeks, but are there any other cracking good reads you can recommend?

By way of thank you, here’s the first chapter from Out of Mecklenburg. You can read it either by clicking here or simply scrolling down the page. Happy reading!

1

Monday 23rd June 1941
German Foreign Office, Berlin

It was terse, wholly unexpected and positively unnerving:

LEAVE CANCELLED. REMAIN IN YOUR OFFICE.
By Order, Doctor Alfred Wehmen, Assistant Under-Secretary of State.

Carl von Menen read the memo again and again, each time the author’s signature sending a shudder of fear surging down his spine. Wehmen, the spirit of Machiavelli. Why the hell hasn’t Clarita phoned me?

Convinced that the lid had been lifted on his clandestine life, von Menen paced impatiently back and forth the entire length of his office, wanting desperately to call a number at Wittenberge, but thinking better of it. If Wehmen has the merest hint of my covert activities, he’ll have alerted the switchboard and ordered all my outside calls logged.

He sat down, took a deep breath, picked up his phone and dialled an internal extension. There was no reply. Over the next three hours, he tried the same number repeatedly. No reply.

An hour later, his phone knelled into life. He reached hesitantly across his desk, lifted the handset and brought it slowly to his ear, as if he were half-expecting to be shot in the back of the head.

‘Von Menen,’ he said cautiously.

‘Carl, it’s me.’

Von Menen sprang to his feet. ‘Thank God! Where’ve you been? I’ve been phoning you for hours.’

‘Shopping; he gave me a few hours off.’

‘But I’ve been ordered to stay in my office and you knew I’d planned to leave early today. Why didn’t you phone me?’

‘Er… yes, sorry about that… but he wants to see you, immediately, with all your files.’

‘All my…! Why?’

‘No idea, but he was very insistent.’

Von Menen replaced the receiver and stared at the ceiling. He knows… Wehmen knows.

Continue reading “Cracking good reads for winter”

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By Samborombón Bay, Sales and marketing, Spy novels

Do you judge a book by its cover?

As a writer, book covers are very important to me. The original cover for Out of Mecklenburg: The Unwilling Spy was going to be two dancers, but it looked too casual and modern. Matador listened to my feedback and came up with a design that used my preferred colours whilst beautifully intertwining the two threads of the story, in Berlin and Buenos Aires, and was instantly clear on its WWII theme.

For the sequel, By Samborombón Bay: The Hunt for Carl von Menen, I’ve chosen to self-publish on Amazon KDP. This meant finding a cover designer. I turned to Spiffing Covers upon my editor’s recommendation, and I’m pretty pleased with the results!

The year is 1985, and the man on the front cover is Richard Blandy, tasked with discovering the truth behind Carl’s disappearance some forty years later. It is set in multiple locations and it was important to me to keep the blend between Germany and Argentina, which I think they have beautifully achieved.

But the big question is: in this day and age, do you still choose a book by its cover? And what do you think of this one? Let me know in the comments!

Front cover design for the sequel.

Character profile, Out of Mecklenburg, Spy novels

Eva Schilling

In the final character profile for Out of Mecklenburg, I’d like to introduce the “dazzling” Eva Schilling, who becomes Manfred von Leiber‘s wife during the course of the novel.

Eva is a world-famous soprano, very beautiful and sixteen years younger than Manfred. Together, however, they make a good couple and their differences seem to complement each other. Eva enjoys the limelight of the stage but craves discretion in her private life.

Continue reading “Eva Schilling”

Character profile, Out of Mecklenburg, Spy novels

Hans Steiger

“One metre ninety and with a face like the north side of the Matterhorn, Hans Otto Steiger, the highest-decorated warrant officer in the entire German army, stood with his hand on the open door of a black Mercedes, waiting for a man he had served under for twenty-eight years.”

Hans Steiger saved General Klaus von Menen‘s life during the First World War, and the trust between the two men is absolute. They have risen through the ranks together and, although Steiger shows deference when they are on official business, outside of the army they have a firm kinship.

Continue reading “Hans Steiger”