Good Morning! Today I would like to welcome our guest author, Steven Savile to AR. For those that do not already know, I stumbled across Steven's book at Hagel Rat's place, and immediately added him to my Friday Find! So a big thanks goes not just to the author, but Hagel, too. :) At the bottom of this guest post we have the details of how to enter Steven Savile's givewaway - where you can win one of TWO of his latest book - Silver, pictured below:

Anyway, enough of my rambling, take it away, Steve! :)

Putting the Brit In...


Steven Savile

In a world where everyone and their aunt would have you believe the only sellable drama is Americo-centric I decided I’d be deliberately obstinate and have my drama very firmly rooted in Europe, my threat European, and my good guys British. There were lots of reasons for this, not least the fact that I am a Brit, that I grew up in Britain and age 27 emigrated to Sweden. My mindset is ‘European’ if there can be such a thing. I remember well Maggie declaring that we were in Europe but not of Europe, and now better than ever I understand that notion, because I am of Britain, but not in Britain...

So when I was invited to talk to you, I thought about this, and the fact that my host is based in Cambridge, which is not too far away (as the crow flies) from Nonesuch, the base of my Ogmios team in Silver. And I thought why don’t I tell you a bit about why I love being a British writer, why Europe is important to me as a setting, and why my team will never set foot on American soil...

My heroes Orla Nyrén, Noah Larkin, Ronan Frost and Jude Lethe are *very* British, representing different personalities of the Isles, while Koni, is a Russian exile who has grown up as a stranger in a strange land - it’s something I can identify with.

Sweden is like England in so many ways, but completely unlike England in those same ways... Forgive me while I meander a little, it’s the way my thought processes work. To look at the two countries for a moment, I remember one of my first jarring memories of moving was going into the in-laws bathroom and finding a washing machine and tumble drier in there. I’ve grown up completely used to the idea of the washing machine being in the kitchen (or the utility room if the house is big enough). It seems like such a minor thing, but the notion of bringing dirty laundry into the room where you prepare your food is disgusting, and likewise the notion of bringing clean laundry out of the machine into a room full of the aromas of food and dirty dishes is equally disgusting... it’s just something I never would have considered - for me the bathroom was for the three S’s, shit shower and shave. But then that started me thinking about other things that on the surface were the same but were just so so different in reality, like why in England does the wrong sort of snow on the tracks stop trains for a day, yet in Stockholm 5 months of the year under ice and snow doesn’t delay the public transport by even 20 minutes... or why pipes burst in England and don’t over here, or why we have our gutters and water pipes on the outside of the houses in England or or or, you get the idea. We’re the same but we’re different...

Anyway, I think the truth is I am probably more British now that I don’t live on the island than I ever was when I did. I feel passionately about my national team, be it cricket, rugby, football, the athletics, I check the Sky News and BBC websites on my rss feeder keeping up with the news back home. Hell, I watch BBC 1 and ITV and all the channels in between on the internet thanks to iplayer and proxy servers. I’ve just re-watched the entire five seasons of The Professionals and am about to launch into Callan. I’m planning a thriller series set during the Falklands War, all sorts of stuff like this that keeps me grounded to my roots. I was a teen in 1980s England, Bodie hair cut in ’82, Howard Jones in ’85 and lots of bad taste between. This is my England....

Bodie (left) - aka Steven's Bodie hair cut in ’82

So, when I sat down to write Silver, my first thought was look at the markets, what’s being read, and if we’re a little cynical about it we can see that the most successful series are always Americo-centric, we’ve got our Jack Reacher’s selling hundreds of thousands of books, where something like my friend Jeremy Duns‘ excellent Paul Dark series, set in 60s cold war England and Biafra, is doing very nicely back home, but hardly denting the US market, and you start to realise that the adage that American audiences for those movies really do want an American character/theme/setting to identify with... or maybe just an American actor, given that Jason Bourne seems to be teaching the world all about Europe these days. Books can’t give them the actor, so they seem to need the setting, character or theme to help that audience connect with them.

But the fact is I am British, European, whatever you want to call me, that’s my mindset. I lived on and off in the States for about a year when all of the days are added together, and I swear I do not understand the mindset of the people. It’s more than just being divided by a common language, though in Nashville I swear even something simple like a waitress asking if I wanted a refill of my Coke would leave me scratching my head and in my best slow British smiling apologetically and saying “I haven’t got a clue what you just said, sorry.”  I don’t believe I could write a convincing American hero. I could write a convincing American cliche, but that’s not the same thing. So give me my Chavs, give me my hoodies and my knife crime, give me rats on the streets poking around the wheelie bins at night, give me my new Labour, just like the old Labour, give me my bow of burning gold, give me my chariot of desire. Anything else just isn’t me.

You see, it is about something Ian Fleming called Solid Exactitude... I know the mindset and the locales, I can take you to London 2010, I can take you to Newcastle 1996, I know the feel of the place, but more, I know the minutiae, the exactness of a man wearing a Next hoodie with 1969 emblazoned across his blue chest, the jeans hanging not on the hips but on the arse cheeks, Calvin Klein elasticated band in sight, and probably just a little too much actual arse for comfort, down to the white leather trainers, the whiter the better, and the gravity defying baseball cap, and I give you Chavdom, Birmingham, UK.  Throw in some spots, a fair bit of swearing and you’ve got yourself a little bit of that Solid Exactitude. It’s much more believable than me trying to sell you a redneck in Birmingham, Alabama.

But it’s not just that, its the politics, it’s the paranoia, the football culture, the cultural references... No American thriller reader is going to have a clue who Christopher Lillicrap is, but to a 1980s boy he’s more than just a silly name, he’s a cultural icon. I can say Marathon and it’s still a Marathon, all of those peanuts packed into every bite... but I can also remember the uneasiness on the streets of Brixton, the youth riots up in Newcastle, all of the frustrations and the sheer hopelessness of the disenfranchised of Maggie’s Britain.  

So if you were going to write a thriller, wanting people to come along with you for the ride, what would you do? Give them cookie-cutter Americana, or give them your heritage, your heart, your soul? It always seemed like an obvious choice to me.

Of course, for all that, one of the very first reviews of Silver begins “Savile threads in more flavor, texture and dimension into a story than most authors dream of. Moving from the U.S. to Israel, Rome and Germany...” so for all of that, it seems the reader is always going to ground their reading in the place and time they know anyway... but I’ll be forever British and that there’s some corner of the foreign thriller field (maybe even a bookshelf) that is forever England.

For more details and a summary of the book itself, visit my Friday Find post, and also the author's website!

Check out the YouTube Vid for Silver, below!

Giveaway Details

 Open to UK/International entrants. Closes TUES 9th, Feb 2010.
  1. To enter - please follow the AR blog (publicly) 
  2. Leave a comment for the author here. 
  3. Make sure you also leave your email address too.
That's it. Good luck! As usual you may, Tweet, Digg , add this comp to your blog, sign the AR Guest book! etc, just come back here to let me know you have - for extra entries.Thank you!

Thank you, and good luck!




  1. Lol, I got stuck with the washing machine thoughts, cos yes, would never think of putting that in the kitchen.
    And ha, those Southerners in Stockholm always seem to be in trouble when snow comes(at least I get that idea from reading the paper) Guess England really must be in trouble then...yes you might have figured out that I am from even higher up ;)

    Anyway, great post, and count me in

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

  2. HA! Hello, Blodeuedd -- funny that - I've never given the whole dirty washing near the food a second thought, but now I come to think of it - ugh! How horrid!

    And yep, you've read my "snow posts" we can't do a thing round here until it's all melted. I'd sit and put my feet up, have a cuppa and read a book each time until it all blew over - if it weren't for the lack of power, heat and light...(Even when it's only 2 inches max!)

    I loved this post - thanks Steve! Made me giggle and go down memory lane.

  3. It's the Bodie haircut and the caramel and peanuts in every bite, isn't it? Imagine how I feel...since the urge to write a thriller set in the early 80s hit I've been living in a world of Visage, Steve Strange and dodgy haircuts, RS2000s and union strikes... just like growing up all over again!

  4. Yes, and just so our readers now who Bodie is, I've added a nice pic to go with your post! :)

  5. Hah laughing my arse off at the added pic with the groovy RS2000 as well... brilliant. Now enter the contest folks or I will take the prizes back and sulk!

  6. LOl, I must confess that I think it is utterly amusing how you seem to fall apart when it comes a tiny bit of snow. We just look at the 30 cm amount of snow, sighs, and drives out, and are happy that at least the roads are free, Cos they do get out early to make it so much easier for us. But then we do practice that before getting out license too.

    But yes ugh, think when you make curry, and you have done your laundry at the same time. That would be smelly

  7. Anonymous5:10 pm

    I just became a public follower .
    Steven, I love the old picture in this post!
    Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks.

  8. Don't enter me since I already have it, but great post Steve and Sassy isn't he just lovely. ;)

  9. Steven, you can't beat a groovy RS2000 - well, maybe the haircut can - that's pretty groovy :) But only just!

  10. haha! Blodeuedd! If WE saw 30 cm's of snow, we'd hibernate!

    Laughing at the thought of curried clothes!


  11. Welcome, Wanda! Thanks for dropping by!! Your name is in the virtual hat of randomness...:)

    Hi HagelRat!

    I nearly entered your competition as I haven't got the print version LOL But wondered if that was rather too cheeky. So, I sat on my hands for a few mins until the feeling passed.

    And yes, luvvvvvly! :) Might start a new Bodie hair trend if we're all lucky - or unlucky - depending on which way one sees it!

  12. This looks like it would be a great book to read. Enter me to win - rick (at) rhodesreview (dot) com.

  13. Totally not too cheeky, enter. :)

  14. Thanks for the mention, Steve - I'll catch up that Lee Child fellow some day, you just watch. :P Loved your trip into the nuances and solid exactitude of early 80s Britain, and can't wait to see what you do with it. And just to take you back.... Opal Fruits! Made to make your mouth water!

  15. Great post Steven - I haven't laughed so much at a blog post for a long time. Christopher Lillicrap - funniest name on TV to a boy in the 80s!!! If memory serves me right he presented Playboard on a Sunday morning - was as dreadful as his hairstyle!

    Please enter me into the draw :)


  16. bookzone - Lillicrap was everywhere when I was a kid, which, when you put it like that is kinda frightening...

    Jeremy - not a problem mate, thanks for the good chat about 2 hrs before I wrote this.

    Folks, anyone here who likes a good, thought provoking well written spy-espionage thriller do yourself a favour and check out Si... I mean Free Agent, by my pal here Jeremy Duns. I heartly recommend it.

    Sassy, I'd love to bring back the Bodie... alas the best I can do is bring back the Baldie Man...

  17. haha. nice post. =) that picture is epic. :)
    Sounds like a good read, please enter my name in the draw.


    * Tweeted aswell, :D

  18. Best author post I have read for a long time.

    I know exactly what you mean about being more of a nationalist when you are away from your home.

    Had exactly the same feeling when I worked in Germany and Canada.

    Please enter me in the competition.
    I am a Follower of the blog.



  19. Great post. It sounds like an interesting book. Count me in!


  20. I enjoyed both the post and the video.

    Steven, do you think book trailers help in book sales?

    I am a follower.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 AT gmail DOT com

  21. Booklover, to be honest, no, I don't think it does - I've certainly never bought a book because of a video. I can't imagine you have either. My mind doesn't really work that way. But my publishers believe it is important, and I guess if it goes viral and a few thousand people see it who wouldn't normally, then perhaps it will lead to 5 or 10 more copies sold...

  22. Hi all!

    Rick! You're added!

    HagelRat -- nearly did, but didn't want to look greedy! Seriously!

    Hi, Jeremy, OPAL FRUITS, they really do make your mouth water. Mine is watering just thinking about them!

    Bookzone! Lovely to see you here! Oh, my goodness Playboard - now I remember Playaway! LOL

    Thanks for the tweets Bianca, you know I've seen them! LOL

    Neville, I can understand that perfectly, you don't miss things until they are gone.

    Hi, Spav! Great name! Thanks for your entry.

    Hi Tracey -- good question!

    Steven -- I think you may be surprised, (of course I'm not he expert here lol ), but I do think a good trailer helps spread the word - so it must help -- especially with the initial buzz. But how would you know if it improved your sales? Are there ways?

    Bring back Mary, Mungo and Midge - I say! Oh, and Starskey and Hutch!

    Thanks for all your tweets!

  23. Hey Hon...

    Enter me please - I remember seeing this at Hagel Rat site - she is no good for my budget...

    I am also a huge fan of the Professional and the Sweeney's...

    I thought Bodie was just the man - he was so good on the leathers.... and the girls as well...

    Love the in depth piece...


  24. Glad people seem to have enjoyed my little blather about being a Brit. I'll be making another stop over at MegalithBooks blog tomorrow, where they asked me on my opinions about being a thriller writer today, with technology 'n stuff... sort of a state of the industry essay. I warn you, I am a tech lover...

  25. I'd love to enter! Thanks!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  26. Great post! The book sounds thrilling. I have bought books because I have seen the trailer. There are so many good books out there and a well-done trailer can help a book stand out from the crowd.

    kmartin AT gmail DOT com


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