Okay so here are some of the more common questions that I’ve been asked by my readers - but again a Spoiler Alert - some of what follows is related to the plot of Compromised so if you’ve landed here in error you might want to hit Home now!
Derek, can you tell me if Compromised is autobiographical?
“Well the short answer is ‘no’ - it’s a work of fiction: what I tried to do with the novel was to use my background with my former work with the military and civilian British intelligence community to give the novel an authentic context. I’m very familiar with Northern Ireland and I can remember quite vividly the first time that I saw the mural to Bobby Sands on the Falls and whilst I might not share the politics it took my breath away - so in that sense I used the experience for the early scene when Maxwell is lost on the Falls - but again an emphatic ‘no’ is the answer to your question!”
Who is your favourite character in Compromised?
“I created each and every one of them so I’m tempted to cop out and say that I like them all and leave it at that.....well, I liked Brian Goodwin tremendously, the kind of fella that you want right by your side when the shit hits the fan; looking back after I decided that he was going to give his life for Maxwell I actually mourned him, but yeah I liked him very much. I also have a soft spot for Larry the barman who is trying to do the right thing covertly working with the RUC - I think that it’s in memory of his father and I admire him for that. Some of the less pleasant characters appeal to me too if I’m totally honest - Sean Hagan is utterly barbaric and evil yet he mesmerises me and I feel something for him, in fact I feel an emotional attachment to all of the characters because they are all my creations!”
Does the strong content put some people off?
“It’s fair to say that Compromised is not for everyone - it has an adult theme and it’s intended for an adult audience. I don’t think that the violence portrayed is particularly gratuitous and my readers by and large seem to appreciate that my writing is genuine. After I finished writing Compromised I was a little bit bothered by the volume of profanity...but the thing is I want to be honest and genuine with my readers and some of my characters are very unpleasant people and their vocabulary is an extension of their psyche. Oh and as for soldiers, they do tend to use bad language from time to time!”
What about the sex scene before the soldiers burst in?
When I first wrote this scene I had Martin and his family all asleep when the soldiers arrived - but at the same time I wanted the interrogation of Martin and Donna to start with the children utterly not involved so the choice, for me, was either to have the children woken and restrained or to change the scene with Martin and Donna downstairs...I toyed with the notion of having them simply watching TV but as the scene developed I wanted to make them as vulnerable as possible when the soldiers arrived - at the same time I wanted to bring out the strength of the relationship between the couple, the raw passion, and show how strong Martin was in facing down Pete Tudor. The scene that follows when Pete brings the children downstairs I think is incredibly moving and by the end of the chapter the emotion that I believe most of my readers feel are conflicting between the utterly remorseless manipulation of a child by Pete against the hope that Maxwell may be alive...the sex scene itself is instrumental in setting the scene and making the chapter work as powerfully as it does.
Where did the book cover design come from?
“My daughter Danielle was putting together a completely unrelated photographic portfolio which had this stunning shot of a War Memorial - she took the photo crouched at the base of the monument and I knew that it was perfect for my book, not only reminding me of the scene where Maxwell breaks down after realising that JJ O’Reilly is alive and kicking, but also the sense of remembrance it portrays for those who have fallen.”
Do you get writer’s block?
“Touch wood, no! I do remember when I was writing the scene where Maxwell, looking like a hobo, was going through airport security at Birmingham, I struggled with delivering a sense of plausibility over how he was going to get through - I tried a few scenarios but it wasn’t working out: you see I simply have to be honest with my readers with my writing...after a few days mulling it over it came to me: anyone who works in an office environment will tell you that computers are always, always going down...so I made the Special Branch computer fall over and moulded the officer into a slightly arrogant twonk and there was the solution. But like I said it’s so important to me that my writing is honest for my readers.”
Does Pete Tudor shoot O’Reilly at the end?
“Looking back to when I wrote the ending to Compromised I desperately wanted to keep my readers hooked right to the final curtain: certainly when you consider what Pete Tudor did in the Prologue there is a strong intimation that Compromised ends with a final violent act...but that said I’m working on the sequel and this will reveal in absolute terms what actually happened at the end of the first novel: so what can I say but get ready for the next one which I hope to have out in 2013...”
Better to have a Writer At Work...
Can you see Compromised ever being made into a movie?
“Quite a few of my reader reviews have made it very clear that the transition from novel to the screen is something that they would like to see...I can see it happening at some point although I think I would find it difficult to totally release creative control of my work, but with the right people I think it will happen. Aside from that I can see Liam Neeson in my mind’s eye as being a perfect JJ O’Reilly...