Friday, June 19, 2015

The Case Of The Disappearing Shoe


There was a very strange story in the headlines this week, with a prominent Muslim campaigner - Asghar Bukhari  - complaining that Mossad agents had stolen a shoe from his home. Just one shoe. Though later he said that a pair of slippers had also gone missing.



After making the claim on his Facebook page, the story went viral. And most people 1) didn't believe it and 2) ridiculed him because of it.

Asghar Bukhari then posted this video about his shoe going missing -



And then later he posted this. In this second video he explained how his slippers had been found, but the shoe was still missing. What happened to his slippers is as strange as the missing shoe.



They are both longish videos but they are worth watching. He's trying to be ironic and sarcastic in the second video, which is a pity because actually this is serious and I don't think he should be making light of it.

The media gave him a tough time.  Newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph made fun of him, refusing to take his allegations seriously.


THIS IS WHAT THE DAILY TELEGRAPH SAID

AND THIS IS WHAT THE DAILY MAIL SAID

AND THE SPECTATOR MAGAZINE ALSO HAD A POP AT HIM

Twitter also gave Asghar Bukhari a rough ride. Leading the charge was the author Jeremy Duns.





This was followed by a series of tweets from Jeremy Duns, aimed at belittling Asghar Bukhari.






Jeremy Duns then started tweeting personal insults, unfortunately.


Jeremy Duns posted several other nasty tweets about the incident.  It has to be said that Jeremy Duns has something of a reputation as an internet bully and as someone who tweets personal attacks on  Muslims.  CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Now, here's the thing. I don't know if Asghar Bukhari's shoe was stolen, or if it's lying under a sofa somewhere.

And if it has gone missing, I don't know if it was Zionists who took it.

But I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty. Things like this do happen. They happen in this country. And sometimes it is Government employees who make it happen.

How do I know this?

Because many years ago I met a man who did exactly that. I kid you not. For a time it was his job to, as he put it, 'destabilise bad guys'.

In the second video, Asghar Bukhari explains how the Stasi - the East German secret police - used underhand techniques to bring down their enemies in a process they called Zerstzung, literarily corrosion or undermining.

But the man I met did the same sort of thing in the UK. His targets were people being looked at by other agencies. Criminals, spies, terrorists.

His job was to play with their minds, to put them under pressure, to put them on the back foot. But he was never to confront them, never to do anything overt.

He would arrange for rubbish bins to be not collected. For much larger than normal utility bills to be sent. For hotel and airline bookings to be cancelled or changed. For unnecessary roadworks to happen outside their houses. For phone lines to go down. And, sometimes, to go into a house and rearrange furniture. Or remove a personal item, like a toothbrush. Nothing too obvious, nothing that would result in the police being called. Just small things, things that would prey on a target's mind. Because the more pressure he was under with regard to the small things, the more likely he was to make a mistake in other areas of his life.

On one occasion they kidnapped the dog belonging to a target's wife, knowing that she would make his life hell until the animal was returned!

When he told me about the house-breaking stuff I said I didn't believe  that was possible. I had just bought a flat and installed state-of-the-art locks and a burglar alarm with motion detectors. I said I didn't think anyone could get into my flat. He spent the next few minutes explaining, in detail, exactly how he would get in and ever since that day I have had no faith in locks or alarm systems. If the powers that be want to get into your home, they can and they will. And you will never know - unless they want you to know.

The stories he told me back then have always stuck with me, and I've often toyed with the idea of incorporating them into a thriller.

Am I sure I believe him?

Absolutely, one hundred per cent.  I have to say I was never completely sure who he was actually employed by. I know for several years he was up against the IRA and did the best Belfast accent I've ever heard from a non-Irishman. He gave me lots of intel that ended up in my IRA thriller The Bombmaker. After 9-11 he was very busy with Al-Qaeda and told me lots of stuff that often appeared in newspapers months or even years later and much of what he told me ended up in my Spider Shepherd books. He never told me anything that when checked proved to be anything other than the truth. I tried calling him this week but the numbers I have for him don't work and he seems to be off the grid. But yes, I believe what he told me about the 'destabilising' operations.  And I do believe there are people who will sneak into your house, rearrange your furniture, and steal a shoe!



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Covers On The Way

My publisher Hodder and Stoughton have been throwing around ideas for a revamp of my backlist. Here are the new versions they're planning for The Stretch and Tango One.



I think they're awesome!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spider Shepherd: SAS Books Now Available As Paperbacks


The Spider Shepherd: SAS books are now available as paperbacks. You can buy the first volume BY CLICKING HERE and the second volume is available  BY CLICKING HERE.

They cost £9.99 each, they're trade paperbacks, i.e. the hardback size but in soft covers.

I've published both of them through Createspace, part of Amazon. It wasn't exactly easy getting the books formatted and downloaded but having done it once I think it'll be easier next time. The profit margins are much lower on paperbacks than eBooks, obviously because it costs that much more to produce a physical copy of a book. I think I get to keep about £1,66 for each copy sold, whereas Amazon pay royalties of 70 per cent on eBooks. I doubt they'll sell in large numbers but I do have fans who want to own a physical book so I'm happy to give them the option!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Black Ops - the 12th Spider Shepherd Thriller - Is Done And Dusted

Black Ops, the 12th book in my Spider Shepherd series - is off to the printers.  I'm well pleased with it, I think it's a cracker of a story.

Hodder and Stoughton have already decided that this is the cover, I think.


Black Ops is on sale in July but is already available on pre-sale at Amazon - YOU CAN GET IT BY CLICKING HERE

Here's the synopsis -

WHO CAN YOU TRUST IF YOU CAN'T TRUST YOURSELF?
Spider Shepherd's MI5 Controller, Charlie Button, has gone rogue, using government resources to get revenge on the men who killed her husband. Spider is told to betray her. Worse, he's asked to cooperate with his nemesis at MI6, Jeremy Willoughby Brown, in taking Charlie down. And he will have to cross the assassin, Lex Harper, currently on the trail of two Irish terrorists, who may be able to lead him to his ex-boss.
Meanwhile, Spider's sixteen-year-old son is caught with drugs, expelled from school and threatened with prosecution. But the drug police offer Spider a deal: go undercover, unmask a local dealer and his son will go free. Spider has no option but to cooperate. But is he any better than Charlie, using work resources to resolve personal issues?
There's little time to debate because another high profile mission is about to engulf him. President Vladimir Putin is about to visit the UK and a father who lost his son on the downed Malaysian plane over the Ukraine holds Putin directly responsible for his death and wants revenge. Along with everything else, it's down to Spider to stop the assassination of a head of state on British soil.


Despite it being a complex plot, it took less than four months to write. The edit was done in a couple of days and the line edit took another day to check.  It was plain sailing all the way, pretty much.

I'm always a little surprised at professional writers who go through endless drafts of a book. Especially those who say - 'The first draft is done, now the hard work begins'.  In my experience it's better to do all the hard work before you finish the first draft.

One writer who thinks that way is David Harrison, who writes under the name Tom Bale. YOU CAN READ A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH TOM BALE HERE

This is what Tom Bale says about rewriting -


The fact that his second draft takes longer than the first suggests that there was something very wrong with the first draft. Which is perhaps why Tom Bale has recently been dropped by his former publisher, Random House - and has had to sign with a new agent. In my experience publishers and agents don't want writers doing rewrites after rewrites - they much prefer the writer to get it right the first time.

I always think of writing as akin to painting, really there's no excuse for not getting it right the first time. I doubt that DaVinci finished the Mona Lisa, took a step back and said "You know, I think she'd look better as a blonde and maybe I'll change the smile to a frown".  That's not how painters work, they improve their art as they go along.

In fact it's the same with any profession. You wouldn't trust a cosmetic surgeon who said "I'll have a go at your face lift. The first version probably won't look that good but we'll be able to have another go at it."

Or a mechanic who said he'll fix your brakes "but it won't be perfect, you go away and tell me what's wrong and I'll try again."

In fact I can't think of another profession - other than maybe computer programmers - who hand in a 'finished' job that clearly isn't fit for purpose.

Don't get me wrong. The best advice you can give to a writer starting off is to write every day. And yes, it's fair to tell them that anything they write doesn't have to be perfect first time because it can always be improved.

But that's for amateurs. For wannabes. For writers who are learning their craft. Things change once you're a professional. Any writer who hands in a first draft and then receives pages of notes from an editor and a request for a complete rewrite really has failed in his job. And if that rewrite isn't perfect and requires another rewrite, then something is badly wrong.

Writing isn't easy. It's time consuming and it's challenging. But time and time again I hear writers complain that producing a book is like pulling teeth and that they have to go through rewrite after rewrite before their book is publishable.  Writer's write, that's what they do. Anyone who complains about the process isn't a real writer. And real writers don't hand in work to a publisher until it's pretty much perfect. So yes, the best advice to any writer when they are starting out is to write every day and not to worry too much about the quality. But once you are a professional, once you earn your living from the words you produce, then the work you hand in should be fit for purpose. Anything more than a simple tweak or polish means you have failed.

So what now?  I'm working on a stand-alone ISIS thriller set in London. I've done 36,000 words and it's really, really good.  I can't tell you the title because it's quite special, but one I rejected early on was "Nine Guys Called Mo".  Seriously!

There's a character called Lex Harper in Black Ops (he was Spider's spotter in Afghanistan) who is a drugs baron and part-time assassin. I'm planning a book in which he'll be the main character, maybe even a series.

And I'm hoping for more Jack Nightingale short stories, maybe even a new novel. Busy, busy, busy. But every moment of it is a blast!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Great Cheap Chilli Recipes Book From Jeremy Dun

I'm a huge fan of chilli. I eat lots of it. I've cut back on carbs so these days I tend to cut out the rice and bread and eat my chilli neat.

Generally I use a slow cooker - in my experience the slower you cook your chilli the better.  And I'm always looking for new recipes to try. That's why I was so excited by this new book from Jeremy Dun - it's packed with great recipes that I'm just itching to try. And it's only £1.99 at the moment.


You can buy Jeremy Dun's chilli cookbook BY CLICKING THIS LINK

There are some great recipes in the book, including a chicken and chorizio chilli that I can't wait to try.

My own recipe for chilli? Okay, twist my arm and I'll tell you. Though be warned, I'm used to Thai food so I like my chilli hot, hot, hot! Anyway, here's how to make Stephen Leather's world famous chilli! I always start by browning half a dozen chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil. I use a wok, it's easier. Then I brown my beef. Minced is best but sometimes I use chopped steak. A pound is usually enough but you can use more if you like it meatier. I brown it with some salt and then throw in a chopped onion.  Then I throw in four tablespoons of chilli powder and brown for another couple of minutes.

I put two cans of chopped tomatoes in a slow cooker, then add the browned meat. Then I throw in two tins of red kidney beans. Always wash and drain them first. I'm not a big fan of dried beans, tinned always taste better and there's no risk of poisoning yourself. I add a small can of tomato puree. Then my little secret. I put frozen chopped jalapeƱo peppers in, just a couple of teaspoonfuls but wow do they add a kick. I buy them from Waitrose. If I have any Thai chillies around I chop them up finely, seeds and all, and toss them in.

I throw in some cayenne pepper for good luck, then give it a good stir and cook for at least six hours on a low heat. I like my sauce quite thick so depending on how much water has evaporated during the cooking I sometimes use cornflour to thicken it right at the last minute. Oh, and I like to sprinkle diced avocado on the top, but that's just me!

Any that I don't eat the first time I freeze and I have to say that it tastes better after it's frozen and thawed. But be warned - my recipe is hot. If you're new to the delights of chilli you might be better off starting with the milder recipes in Jeremy Dun's book.

Happy eating!



UPDATE APRIL 17

Just so there is no confusion, the author of this most excellent book is Jeremy Dun.  This is not to be confused with Jeremy Duns, a journalist/writer who has been accused of being an internet bully.

Jeremy Duns thinks that my review is somehow trolling him. I'm not sure why he thinks that because I did buy the book and enjoyed it.



It is ironic that Jeremy Duns is accusing me of being a troll, as he is the one with the reputation of being an internet bully and troll. YOU CAN READ ABOUT HIS REPUTATION AS AN INTERNET BULLY BY CLICKING HERE


Monday, February 16, 2015

My Website Is Down - Thanks Internetters!

My website - www.stephenleather.com - has been out of commission since Saturday, and my email through that account isn't working.

It's all down to my internet provider - www.internetters.co.uk - who have dropped the ball, big-time.

What makes it worse is that the people at Internetters don't work in the evenings or at weekends. That's right, they work 9-5 and don't answer the phone or reply to emails outside of those hours.

My website went down on Saturday morning and it's now Tuesday and Internetters haven't replied to any of my emails. It's the worst possible customer service to ignore a customer, right?  And I can't believe that in the 21st century an internet service provider thinks it's acceptable not to work at weekends. Do they think the rest of us just shut down on Saturday and Sunday?

Everyone who has emailed me through my website has been told that the account doesn't exist! Well, it does. And I'm in the process of switching everything over to GoDaddy, who are there to help 24/7.

To be fair, I never chose to work with Internetters. I was a client of a company called Skymarket, who were great. But they were acquired by Internetters a few years ago and I have had problems ever since, in  particular with my email.

Anyway, hopefully all will be well in the day next day or two. Fingers crossed.


UPDATE FEBRUARY 18 - My website is up and running now, courtesy of GoDaddy. Hopefully it'll be trouble free from now on.  My email is still not working, but hopefully will be sorted sooner rather than later.  I finally got a reply from Internetters. Apparently it's my own fault for sending multiple emails. I sent one a day, they say I should have just waited for them to reply.  Six days!  Unbelievable. If there is a worse internet provider out there I have yet to come across them.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

San Francisco Night Tops The Occult Chart

The new Jack Nightingale novel - San Francisco Night - is the best-selling Occult book on the Kindle in the UK at the moment. And the Jack Nightingale short story The Tracks is topping the Young Adults Short Stories chart.


I have self published San Francisco Night and you can buy it for the Kindle by CLICKING HERE

You can also buy it as a paperback by CLICKING HERE



I am planning a new Jack Nightingale novel in the near future and a run of Jack Nightingale short stories. Watch this space!