Former Cabinet Minister and author Alan Johnson talks books and writing on Spybrary

Alan Johnson Author Interview

This week we welcome the former Home Secretary and best-selling author Alan Johnson to the Spybrary Podcast. In this informative and fun chat, Spybrary host Shane Whaley asks Alan Johnson how his background as Home Secretary helped him to write his fiction books Late Train to Gipsy Hill and One of Our Ministers is Missing.

The Director General of MI5 reports to the Home Secretary, and whilst we knew Alan Johnson would not share details of those meetings, Shane could not resist asking him what advice he would give to a new Home Secretary regarding managing the working relationship with MI5.

That and more in this episode of the Spybrary Spy Podcast

Alan Johnson Quick Fire Round

Favourite Spy Novel – The Untouchable by John Banville (Philby, Burgess and Maclean have always seemed stranger than fiction and this fictionalised version of one of their bit-part players, Anthony Blunt, is fascinating.)

Favourite Spy Movie – Hitchcock’s 1939 version of ‘The 39 Steps’

Favourite Spy – Harry Palmer (a refreshing change from the public schoolboys)

Favourite 007 Actor – Sean Connery

Favourite Spy Villain – Blofeld

Favourite Spy Author – Geoffrey Household

You are embedded in East Berlin you can take with you:

One Book – Goldfinger

One gadget – pass

One spy character – Oddjob

One bottle of booze – Calvados

One record – The Beatles White Album (the one with Back in the USSR)

So what is Late Train to Gipsy Hull and One of Our Minister is Missing all about?

A woman hiding a deadly secret. And the man who went in search of adventure, but found himself in danger …

Gary Nelson has a routine for the commute to his rather dull job in the city. Each day, he watches as a woman on the train applies her make up in a ritual he now knows by heart. He's never dared to strike up a conversation . . . but maybe one day.

Then one evening, on the late train to Gipsy Hill, the woman invites him to take the empty seat beside her. Fiddling with her mascara, she holds up her mirror and Gary reads the words ‘HELP ME' scrawled in sticky black letters on the glass.

From that moment, Gary's life is turned on its head. He finds himself on the run from the Russian mafia, the FSB and even the Metropolitan Police – all because of what this mysterious young woman may have witnessed. In the race to find out the truth, Gary discovers that there is a lot more to her than meets the eye . . .

One of Our Ministers is Missing.

A government minister in the Foreign Office has vanished into thin air.

On holiday in Crete, Lord Bellingham had been solo trekking in the White Mountains when he mysteriously disappeared. After a vast search and rescue operation, the local police have no leads, save for a mobile phone discarded on a cliff edge.

Assistant Commissioner Louise Mangan of the Met Police is sent to assist in the investigation but soon discovers that there are more layers to this case than the local police realise.

Lady Bellingham is less than forthcoming, the family nanny is hiding something, and a scandal is brewing back in London that could destroy the minister’s reputation for good.

Under pressure from the powers that be, can Louise find the missing minister, or will she discover something much more sinister at play?

Books and Resources Mentioned on this Episode of the Spybrary Spy Podcast

Alan Johnson Books
Alan Johnson Author on Twitter
Late Train to Gipsy Hill
One of our Ministers is Missing
Eric Ambler
John Stonehouse and Ralph
John Grant, Queen of Denmark

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