I can trace my fascination with spy fiction to the Greek myths I read as a child and the characters who concealed themselves to achieve their goals. From Zeus to the Trojans, the mythic trope of shape-shifting remains a strong story hook.
During my research and development for A Righteous Spy, I read a quote from an interview with John le Carré that haunted me. He said, ‘People in the clandestine world, when they go down the tube in the escalator, they think, “I know a few things that you don’t.”
In le Carré’s comment I saw the same mythic duality that interested me as a child; the notion that there are people among us who are not what they seem. Yet, more than assuming other identities, to trick people in some way, what intrigued me is that spies are people who believe that they are doing right, even though their acts are patently transgressive; it’s a theme I am repeatedly drawn to as a writer because it holds up mirror to both societal and individual behaviour.
I chose three characters whose point of view I would explore; each of whom believes they are doing right, each of whom lies, manipulates and ultimately kills to make, what they believe to be, a positive difference. A naïve Palestinian woman volunteers to be a suicide bomber certain that her act will benefit her community. An Israeli Intelligence Office leads the covert operation believing that if he achieves promotion, he will be closer to changing the regional political spectrum for the better. The third character, a British woman, thinks that she is saving lives and honouring her father’s memory. All of them have laudable intentions, all fail to protect people they care about.
I hope you enjoy the world, the narrative and most important of all, the characters.
A Righteous Spy by Merle Nygate is available from Verve