We interview spy authors, intelligence experts and spy fans! Our goal is to encourage people to read new spy novels, revisit an old espionage classic and discuss them with our community of like minded spy fans.
Spybrary is hosted by Shane Whaley who decided to set up the podcast because few of his friends are interested in talking about the spy books and spy movies he loves (and hates!)
“I am not a literary expert, I was not an A grade English student yet I loved to read from early age. I always had my nose in a book. Starting with Captain W.E. Johns’ Biggles, then to Leslie Charteris’s Saint and progressing to Ian Fleming and John Le Carre.” says Shane.
‘My friends are not really into the spy genre. After reading a spy book I always want to dig deeper, to find out more about the author, plot, characters, locations etc. More than anything though I wanted to chat with other spy book fans to hear what they thought. So the Spybrary Spy Podcast and community was born.”
Spybrary Spy Podcast is all about discovering new works as well as revisiting the spy classics, on stage, screen and in print!
Spybrary Spy Podcast attracts over 1000 listeners a week and boasts a healthy community of spy fans and geeks over at the Spybrary Facebook Group.
‘I think my first foray into spy books was Biggles and from there onto Leslie Charteris’s Saint‘. I was hooked on these books and luckily my school library back in Wales was stocked with Biggles (Capt W E Johns) and The Saint books. I believe there were almost 200 of these books published so I was spoiled for choice.
Of course James Bond movies and the re-runs of the Saint (Roger Moore, Ian Oglivy and Simon Dutton) played a huge part of my childhood and I idolised Roger Moore and was terrified of Richard Kiel. Much of my childhood was all about spies to a point where I used to pull a Roger Moore eyebrow pose in school photos. That is why you will not see many photos of school age Shane at my Mothers house.’
In his 20s Shane Whaley gave up on most fiction, ‘I tried Le Carre’s ‘A Small Town in Germany‘ but only got a few chapters in and aborted it. I mainly read non fiction biographies in a quest to learn more about fascinating figures from the spy, military and political world.
In my 30s I re-read the whole Ian Fleming James Bond books and was hooked again. Fleming led me to Le Carre who led me to Deighton and now through Spybrary and the great recommendations I receive from guests and the Spybrary facebook group I am reading a lot more widely in the spy/espionage thriller world.
It is all too easy to stick with favorites, my goal with Spybrary is to encourage folks to either read a new spy book or return to one that they may have read years ago. And this applies to me to I am currently enjoying Jeremy Duns‘ work who I was not familiar with until I started Spybrary.’ (Sidenote – Shane recently got to chat with Jeremy – listen to Jeremy Duns interview)
Shane’s favorite spy author is without a doubt John Le Carre though he is closely followed by Len Deighton. My favourite spy is probably Charlie Muffin, the creation of Brian Freemantle. Scruffy, non Oxford educated but with a razor sharp intellect, he is my guy!
Shane still cites ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ with Gary Oldman as his #1 spy film closely followed by The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. His favourite 007 movie is Live and Let Die. ‘It is probably not the best Bond movie but there is something about that film, it left a great impression on me as a kid. It thrilled me, excited me and those creepy scarecrows and the voodoo stuff terrified me.’
When it comes to spy tv shows, Shane Whaley’s #1 is The Sandbaggers written by Ian Mackintosh and starring Roy Marsden. ‘I only recently watched it and I was blown away. Its mainly men in grey suits in various offices and lots of dialogue yet those plot lines were incredible. I enjoyed it because it also showed the dark side of espionage and that the British SIS could be ruthless when they wanted to be and not always the good guys.’
I know most Spybrary fans are die hard fans of Alec Guiness’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I think Sandbaggers edges it because its not one story, each episode in the 3 series featured a different story and plot.
Shane recommends other spy podcasts such as The Sunday Spy Show with Brian Gray and Spycast – the podcast from the International Spy Museum in DC. ‘These two podcasts focus more on intelligence fact and I learn a ton listening to these guys. I feel that I am receiving a Masters in Intelligence Studies.’They always have excellent guests and I learn something new every time I listen to an episode. There are various James Bond podcasts out there, too many to mention, I do have a soft spot for the guys at James Bond Radio and Smersh Pod. The Smersh guys do take the piss out of Bond, so don’t be too precious about it as they do give credit as well.’
Shane also enjoys spy fact as you can see from the photo above, a medley of spy books from the former spy who’s book Thatcher tried to ban, to the CIA to John Le Carre (where sometimes fiction appears to be fact!)
Shane Whaley set up the Spybrary Podcast as most of his friends are not into spy lit. ‘I would read a spy book, either fact or fiction and then not have anyone to talk to about it. I hope Spybrary adds another dimension to the books we all read. I have made some great friends around the world who love their spy books and are so knowledgeable. I am delighted that a few of these fellow spy lit fans are open to coming on the show and talking spy books and movies. I do not see Spybrary as the Shane Whaley Show, I just want to ask the right questions and get out of the way!
Future plans for Spybrary include panel discussions and even some meetups, starting in London this year, prior to the John Le Carre talk at the South Bank Centre. Shane would love to hear your suggestions and ideas for Spybrary.