14 Feb I did an interview in a dark room once used by Andy McNab
It was cold, dark and raining. It was also early in the morning, like stupid o’clock. I had agreed to be in London at Amazon HQ for 10am for an interview as part of Audible Sessions. When they asked a few weeks before I had confessed to not knowing what they were. They sent me a link to the Audible Youtube channel and it appeared they brought authors in to ask them questions about their works. A small part of the interview (about 2 mins) was put on Youtube and the full interview was put on the authors Audible page as a free download.
I said no, not a chance, nope, there is no way I can have a video interview and show my ugly mug. Unless they’d let me wear a balaclava of course, and I think folks pottering about central London in balaclavas is currently frowned on. So it was a no go. Then they said some magic words which made me change my mind. They said Andy McNab had done it in a special darkened room and I could use the same set-up. Andy McNab. The Andy McNab. They said that. They said I could use his room. Sign me up!
It was Tuesday 31st Jan. The day before Extracted was released as part of the Kindle First program. I live on the Isle of Wight so it meant an ungodly early start to get to the end of a pier to wait in a steamed up room full of suit wearing commando commuters all hardened at such travel perils. Seriously, these were steely eyed, firm jawed warriors used to running for the best seats and not adverse to digging elbows in ribs and sticking out feet to trip the naive and vulnerable. We boarded the ferry in a seething mass of a charge that you could have filmed and used for The Undead Day Seven big battle when they pour out the gates to fight Darren (except everyone was in suits or weird combinations of half suit / half lycra cycle gear which is just downright obscene)
On the boat then off the boat and again a running battle from the dock to the train platform. Alliances were formed. Sides taken as we fought for the narrow train doorways to bag a non-backward-facing-vomit-inducing-seat. Some of these guys had laptops too and needed seats with tables but they were the premiere league of fighters and were allowed to use weapons. The marshals said the rest of us couldn’t try and attack them for fear of instant death. One chap did try but he was decapitated and eaten. Brutal stuff, frightening too. I almost cried off and thought fuck this, I’m going home. Then I thought what would Andy McNab do? He wouldn’t chicken out. He’d be right in there a bashing and a boshing with cunning and guile. So with a hearty yell I charged in and got through. I did end up on a backward-facing-vomit-inducing-seat but it was cool. It was better than the decapitated guy currently being eaten by a group of financiers discussing the finer merits of having teeny tiny penises but extra large Mac books.
I’m a country boy really so I still, (at the age of 41 and a bizarre life behind me) tend to gawp when I go to London. How the hell do they cram so many people into such tiny places? Seriously, if more than three cars stop on a road on the Isle of Wight we make the council open the emergency shelter and start giving out blankets, then we discuss it for weeks and demand justice for the slightly peeved victims. Anywho, I did notice that the battle hardened, steely jawed warriors adopted a more meek style of charging once in the capital. They still did it but they did it sneaky like. Shuffling with heads down giving jabs and digs lost in the strangely quiet atmosphere. I guess there are much bigger sharks in a city. Like mad sharks that stare at you and want to be friends and smile but they have teeth missing. Even the tiny penis Mac book dudes were all quiet. But still, I was in the footsteps of Andy McNab so to hell with it…I stared down the gap-toothed sharks and got through the tiny penis Mac book financiers into the world of THE TUBE.
Then I got lost. I mean…what the actual fuck? Who the hell can ever know where they are in that place? The maps are like someone has puked spaghetti on a shiny bit of plastic and sold it to an art gallery. I asked a man in London Underground uniform for directions. “AH GEEZER WAT YA NEED IS THE APPLE AND PEARS TO ME OLD MUM’S HOUSE FOR A PLATE OF EELS AND A RIGHT OLD DUST UP WIV A BOTTLE OF GIN” he said that. That’s what he said. I bet he wouldn’t have said that to Andy McNab. For a start…he wouldn’t even see Andy McNab cos he’d be disguised as a city financier with a Mac book (McNab that is, not the London Underground bloke).
So I did that lost thing when you walk faster but without actually knowing where you are going. Somehow I ended up in the outside world and asked a fella in an orange high-vis workman style get up who said, and I quote, “AH GEEZER WAT YA NEED IS THE APPLE AND PEARS TO ME OLD MUM’S HOUSE FOR A PLATE OF EELS AND A RIGHT OLD DUST UP WIV A BOTTLE OF GIN”
Then I found some stairs back down into THE TUBE and asked a nice bloke wearing a suit who didn’t have a Mac book for directions. He was really nice and didn’t even try and discuss the national average penis size.
Eventually, and somewhat creased, disheveled and still smarting blood-stains from the DUST UP WIV A BOTTLE OF GIN at somebodies mother’s house – I found Joanna (my agent). She being a Londoner. Who knows London. And doesn’t get lost or gawp at buildings over 3 levels in height. We then got to Amazon HQ and I saw the ninth wonder of the world. (is it the ninth or eighth?) It was a wonder of the world anyway. A lovely lady called Elise, who later did the interview, showed us round. We saw the staff room, which is bigger than my flat and full of big comfy sofas and retro tables with art on the walls. Elise asked if we wanted coffee and led us to the kitchen, this being the ninth wonder of the world. I’ve never seen anything like it. They had shelves full of food, snacks, fruit, gluten free stuff, crates of drinks, sodas, juices, beers and wines. An enormous American style fridge freezer was also brimming with food and drinks…and all of it is free for the staff. Unbelievable. Nobody nicks anything either. I couldn’t fathom it. A whole kitchen full of food and drink supplied for free. If that was a police station canteen it would be emptied within seconds. (police officers are very honest but we do have a weird code of conduct. You can put 10 grand down on the side and it will be there gathering dust in weeks to come, put a pen down and it’s gone and the unwritten police law states that ANY food in the canteen is FREE FOR EVERYONE AND MUST BE TAKEN HOME even if it’s not free and labelled with someone’s name)(I’ve actually seen coppers take pens from other coppers hands to use when the other copper was mid-writing.)
So to see a well-stocked canteen, supplied for free and not full of hairy arse coppers filling bin bags was a strange sight indeed. I was actually intrigued and wanted to ask questions about the working life within such an organisation. Everyone I had seen looked happy. The dress code was very relaxed. It prickled my curiosity. I had questions forming and was ready to open a line of conversation with my Andy McNab style of secret spy talking. Then I got stuck at the coffee machine and couldn’t figure out how to make it work. It had those pods you pop in then buttons to press and a couple of metal spokes that spew either burning lava or steamed milk. I was fine jabbing things and trying to work it out. Then a beautiful woman took pity on me asked me if she could help. I got tongue tied, mumbled, stuttered and said “I LIKE COFFEE”. She smiled, as you do when faced with an idiot. She even asked me what coffee pod I wanted. I pointed randomly, “THAT ONE PLEASE IF I CAN PLEASE DO YOU WANT MONEY PLEASE.”
Elise then took us into the interview room, this being a production suite used for narrators to er…well um…narrate. The lights were already dimmed and all shadowy. This super cool lad was working the camera and got me settled. I was really nervous as I hate any form of public speaking. Elise was fantastic, really friendly and warm. Once we were sure the lighting was all dim enough we went into it and I have absolutely no clue what I said. Honestly no clue. I think I just went waffle waffle blah blah waffle HAHAHAH I LIKE COFFEE PLEASE HAVE YOU MET ANDY McNAB (Elise has actually met him by the way)…I was shitting it. I had even thought of answers to questions in advance and was prepared but that went out the window. Seriously, I came out with no idea of what I said or what answers I gave. I wanted to be witty and intelligent, warm and engaging. Instead, in my head, I was a moronic halfwit talking too much after drinking too strong coffee from pointing at a random pod in the kitchen. They said it was fine but then were they just being polite while rushing me to the door?
Ah but it was done. Over and in the hands of the gods of cringing interviews.
That was on the 31st. I went home, buried my head in work and cracked on like normal. The next day, the 1st Feb. Extracted was released on Kindle First. I had no experience of Kindle First and in my head it wasn’t on general release so therefore I didn’t actually pay it much attention. It wasn’t until about midday when Joanna emailed with a link to the Australian Amazon charts which showed Extracted in the top 3. Then it hit the UK and ended up reaching number 2, then the US where it first settled at 3 then peaked at 2. Out of the whole chart. Out of all the books on Amazon. Fuck me. I wasn’t expecting that. Nothing like that. Since then it has been nuts, just crazy. Extracted is doing brilliantly. Thank you to anyone who has bought / downloaded it. It’s still early yet and not on general release until 1st March. The response so far has been incredible but bloody hell! The second book, Executed, has been finished, we’re working through edits on that one and I’ll start the third one very soon.
It’s free. You have to download it like you would a normal audio book and I think it’s about 16 minutes long. I’ve half listened to a bit of it while hiding under my desk cringing my arse off.
Day Twenty-One is underway.
Extracted is out on general release 1st March.
Extracted Audio book is also out on general release on 1st March.
Coming soon….Blood at the Premiere audio book.
Coming soon…An illustrated version of The Undead Day One.