John Day is an author who writes thrillers from unique angles and perspectives. His book “Espionage London” was recently reviewed by AlliesOpinions and it blew us away. I hope you enjoy our interview with Mr. Day. Don’t forget to comment and let us know if there’s an addittional question you have for Mr. Day. We love to hear from our readers!
Q: “Espionage London” is a riveting story. What are your hopes for the book?
A: If readers enjoy my stories, that is all I want. If it became a best seller and a movie, that would be the validation I look for.
Q: A decent portion of the book occurs on Alderney where you currently reside. Did you feel closer to the story while writing since you have such a strong connection to the island?
A: Fort Clonque is a picturesque location and much of the betrayal and romance goes on there. The cliff top scenes with Raven doing spy things in the dead of night is inspiring, France is so close, it all fits the book perfectly. In that sense, I do think of Espionage – London when I am there.
Q: What inspired you to write “Espionage London”?
A: I was on a Pacific cruise at the time, so I was feeling very stimulated with ideas. I thought, what sort of thriller could I write involving Alderney? So much of the Islands history starts with WW2. There are Victorian forts, and times before that, but the Germans expunged Alderney’s past, so it starts afresh with WW2.
Q: Each of the four main characters in your book felt easily relatable. Were these characters based off real people?
A: I had no individuals in mind. They were stereotypical people, given an individual face.
To meet him, Karl Strom was not a man of mystery. To be a good spy, you would never suspect his intent or penetrate his persona. Of necessity, the team he leads saw a person of great complexity, cunning and resolve. He will surprise you many times.
Horst is the steady, knowledgeable type that people see and respect without knowing anything about him. To save his skin, he could be brutal or deeply compassionate. He will shock you.
Andreas is the immature and excitable young lad. Desperate to please, bright, but a waste of space. When the going gets tough, he shines.
Carina, the sort of girl that is two-faced. You instinctively like her, but can’t bring yourself to trust her. She will astound you.
Q: The “Beacon” in your story has had my imagination in a tizzy. It’s such a clever and innovative design. It almost felt like its own character in the story. So much depends on it and so much happens because of it. Is this Beacon a real part of history? How did you discover it?
A: The German scientists were amazing people. When I researched the technical aspects, I was impressed at the care and quality of their tech compared with other countries. Why this device was never recorded in history is explained in the story. Right from the start, the reader knows this simple device is Hitler’s answer to victory. I have a background in electronics, so the details of the device was viable at the time.
Q: “Espionage London” is one of the very few books set in WW2 that’s written from the perspective of the Germans. Did you feel conflicted while writing?
A: No, I didn’t. The reality is that most Germans are decent human beings and they do have a sense of humor. A few Germans in positions of power were bad people and made people under them do bad things. I wonder how many people would prefer to be executed rather than carry out a barbaric order? Anyway, the British weren’t angels, for the same reason.
It should be noted that the story is not written from the perspective of one side is better than the other.
Q: There are some very clever political plays made by some of the characters in your story. It set me to thinking about English (among other countries) families and if there were many who played both sides. How did you go about researching for this? Did you find anyone who took you by surprise?
A: I doubt many intelligent readers will be unaware of the duplicitous actions of a few wealthy families, on both sides. They didn’t ask for war, but it was forced on everyone. You have to keep your options open until the winning card is played.
Q: Have you considered fleshing any of the four spies out further in another novel? I’m extremely interested in learning their experiences prior to their stint on Alderney.
A: I had considered Sundown and Raven as being worthy of a book, but that flies in the face of impartiality and the human dimension in this dreadful war. The three characters from Alderney were nobodies until tested by the mission. Karl Strom could be spun out, but the reader would know he survived in that earlier episode, whatever danger he was in.
Allie – True, but a stories merit isn’t tied solely to it’s ending. The best parts of books are the middle. The ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’ are an integral part of any story.
Q: In “Espionage London”, you did a great job of humanizing the German side of the war. Often, spies are portrayed as cold and unshakeable. You took another turn and explored the pain and deprivation spies had to endure while attempting to complete their mission. I found this incredibly insightful. Have you thought of exploring this further with other aspects of German society during the war?
A: I picked the German side in Espionage London because the plot was everything a thriller could be. The reader knew the outcome of the conflict yet at the time of the story, there was this absolute certainty that provided the secret device worked, Hitler would win. It was probably the first thought the reader had that the team would all be caught or the device failed. How else could History be reconciled. As the story advances, the reader has to face the fact they are wrong and this just cannot be. The thoughtful reader will understand, from the clear explanation in the story, how the simplest thing can turn things around. I promise readers a clear logical story and no smoke and mirrors. That is what makes this story so compelling.
Q: The Holocaust and the Germans other war crimes aren’t explored at all in your book. The main focus is on the spies and their cog in the machine of war. Was the story always so hyper focused?
A: Yes, it had to be with that focus. I don’t support any aspect of war. If it were up to me, all wars would have to be fought solely by the individuals who instigate it. They would be shipped out to some deserted island somewhere and left to get on with it. There wouldn’t be a return trip for any of them.
Allie – I completely agree with your philosophy of war.
Q: In “Espionage London” the difference of rationing between the rich and the poor is briefly highlighted. I found this to be another unique approach to writing about this era. Have you thought of exploring this further in your writing?
A: No I haven’t. The reason for mentioning it in the book was like many other things I described, I wanted the reader to feel what an appalling situation being at war was. I wanted them to experience first-hand, albeit from the comfort of their reading chair, that this was a desperate and unglamorous time. The poor and middle classes always come off worst at any time. I don’t despise or judge the wealthy either, they have their part to play in society. There are other authors and readers who might enjoy such divisions in society, but it wouldn’t be thrilling.
By late 1943, Hitler desperately needed a secret weapon to win WW2. Engineer & master spy Karl Strom devised a simple device that would bring Britain to its knees over night.
This character driven story of intrigue and guile, love and revenge, tells of the suicide mission undertaken by 4 German spies. It will transport you back in time to the Channel Island of Alderney where they prepared and to the back streets of London, where they struggle to survive.
Timing is everything in war, and a cruel twist of fate changes history.
A super-intense John Day Thriller.