Ava Glass on her new book ‘Alias ​​Emma’, favorite books

For the author Ava Glassinspiration for his new spy thriller don’t come from Ian Fleming or shows like Americans, it comes from real life. Working as a consultant in British counter-terrorism has placed her in the midst of intelligence agencies and the spies who run them.

“Most of my spies are completely made up,” says Glass. “But a spy helped inspire Emma Makepeace, my main character. This woman was in her twenties, supernaturally confident and very comfortable with the deception her job required. She befriended me for a brief period, and she was so convincing that it took me months to realize she must have been part of my background investigation I ridiculously accept, so I never questioned her sudden presence in my life, and I gladly answered all her questions about my family and my history. And then, one day, she disappeared. All these years later, I’m still a little fascinated by her. I’m not not sure there would have been an Emma Makepeace without her.

In Aliases Emma, Emma Make peace is a rookie spy at a shadowy British organization called The Agency awaits her big break. She’s made to be a spy, she just needs the right mission. Finally, she gets one – and it’s vitally important to her boss: getting the son of a Russian dissident to safety at MI6 before an assassin team catches him. The only problem: the Russians have hacked London’s ubiquitous CCTV cameras.

We spoke with Glass about the spy thrillers that inspired her, the work she’s done for the Home Office and the book she recommends the most to her friends.

Related: Barack Obama Shares His Summer 2022 Reading List

You worked in counter-terrorism in England for a while. What did this job consist of? And how did it inspire or help you to write Aliases Emma?

I worked as a communications consultant so basically my job was to try to convince spies to talk to the public. It wasn’t popular with the spies themselves at all, but it meant I had to spend a lot of time in this world. There were a lot of things they couldn’t tell me, but what they shared was fascinating enough that I kept wondering about all the things they weren’t allowed to say. In Aliases Emma, I have to imagine what some of those things were.

Were any characters or storylines based on people or things you encountered or heard of while working in the Home Office?

Most of my spies are completely made up. But a spy helped inspire Emma Makepeace, my main character. This woman was in her twenties, supernaturally confident and very comfortable with the deception her job required. She befriended me for a brief period, and she was so convincing that it took me months to realize she must have been part of my background investigation. I ridiculously accept, so I never questioned his sudden presence in my life, and gladly answered all his questions about my family and my history. And then, one day, she disappeared. All these years later, I’m still a bit fascinated by her. She was so young, but it was like she was born to be a spy. I’m not sure there would have been an Emma Makepeace without her.

Related: Is ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ Based on a True Story?

What do you think is so fascinating to readers in intelligence agencies around the world?

I think there’s something really glamorous about this world. I’ve been on the brink, and I know that spies don’t tend to be like James Bond – they’re as ordinary as can be most of the time, because that’s how they weave their way through the world without being noticed. The idea of ​​living your life as a constant deception, of becoming someone else transparently in order to get the information you need. The thrill of constant danger. I guess in truth, most of us just couldn’t do what they do, and that’s why we’re so intrigued by this.

So many things are closed to us. In the building where I worked, one floor was occupied by spies. All the other floors were open plan so when you got out of the elevator the whole floor spread out around you. On this floor, when the elevator door opened, you only saw a wall and a locked door. They literally closed a door in your face if you weren’t one of them. It’s a natural instinct to imagine all kinds of exciting things happening behind that door.

The prevalence of surveillance in the UK is a big part of the book – more CCTV cameras per person than most countries. What impact does this have on your way of writing as a writer of spy novels?

Cameras play into everything that happens in London because you can’t get away with writing, “He walked over and stabbed person x and no one saw anything.” The CCTV system constantly monitors. Always save. In Aliases Emma, I handled it by making the cameras a character, sort of. They are like hunters, stalking Emma. There is no escape from them. No matter where she goes, the cameras will find her eventually. And she knows from the start that they will. It all depends on what she will do when that time comes.

Related: The Ultimate Summer 2022 Reading List

Do you have a favorite spy thriller?

I like must know by Karen Clevelandand american spy by Lauren Wilkinsonthat I read while writing Aliases Emma. To be honest, though, I was as inspired by TV as I was by books. Americans, Homeland and Tehran are all spy shows with women at their hearts. I think television is way ahead of written fiction when it comes to portraying modern female spies. The book world has always been a little hesitant to let women lead the way in spy novels, but television has been firing on all cylinders, and I love it.

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

(scroll to continue reading)

Which book do you recommend the most to your friends and family?

I have five books that I consistently recommend, but I guess the one I recommend the most is The secret story by Donna Tartt. It’s a murder mystery set in a private college in the northeast, and it’s the book that made me want to be a novelist. I still think it’s the perfect mystery novel.

Donna Pie

What books are on your To Read list?

I’m about to start reading Box 88 by spy writer Charles Cumming. He is the master of propulsive plot. I will also read girlfriends by Holly Bourne. Holly writes about female relationships better than anyone I know. It’s as if she had read everyone’s newspaper.

Box 88

Which author would you like more people to know?

Without a doubt I would say Josephine Tey. She was a Scottish playwright and novelist in the 1920s and 1930s. A contemporary of Agatha Christie, she was quite androgynous, often photographed in a suit and tie. Her real name was Elizabeth MacKintosh but she never used it. She writes novels under the name Josephine Tey and acts under the name Gordon Daviot. His books are wonderfully complex, often funny and dark. The franchise business, about small-town rumors spiraling out of control, feels oddly modern to me. This is my favorite of his books.

The franchise business

What do you think was the last really great thriller you read?

darkness by Emma Haughton. It is about a doctor who arrives to work on an Antarctic scientific base in the dead of winter and begins to suspect that his predecessor has been murdered. It’s pleasantly terrifying.

darkness

How would you describe your personal library?

Eclectic! I have a wall of shelves in my living room and another in my office, and right now they’re both overflowing, so I have a one in, one out rule, which is brutal. I collect old books, but my tastes are unpredictable. I own everything since an 18e century edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to a large collection of 1920s fiction, alongside a shelf of novels by Douglas Coupland and a paperback by The hunger Games. Organizing the shelves is a bit of a hassle, so it’s hard for anyone but me to find anything.

Related: The Best TV Crime Dramas Adapted From Books

Which book(s) are you most excited for this fall (or late summer)?

The inky heart by Robert Galbraith is definitely on my list, and The It Girl by Ruth Ware. Also I can’t wait to read The long weekend by Gilly Macmillan.

The inky heart
The fashionable girl

What books or characters have marked you throughout your life? Any classics you go back to?

I read Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald when I was 19, and it made me want to move to France and get rich and reckless. Instead, I moved to England and worked really hard, so I only got halfway there. Still, it’s one of the most moving novels I’ve ever read about mental illness and loss. Fitzgerald made being a struggling artist surrounded by riches both glamorous and painful. He was so observant, and that’s an attribute every writer needs. If you don’t observe others, you can only write about yourself.

Tender is the night

Then Kristin Hannah delivers in order!

About Sandy Fletcher

Check Also

RGB hues bathe the retro Beatles-themed Apple platform in an otherworldly light [Setups]

RGB hues bathe the retro Beatles-themed Apple platform in an otherworldly light [Setups]

Sometimes you can’t help but take a holistic approach to setting up a computer, considering …