Questions and Answers
(What everyone wants: Information)
Do you have to have seen The Prisoner television programme to read the book?
- No. I've written the book as a self-contained spy thriller so that it appeals to anyone who likes that genre.
So if I have seen The Prisoner I'll be disappointed?
- No! Well, hopefully not. Unity provides answers to many of the questions raised by both The Prisoner story arc and some of the most important key episodes. Remember how Number Two was always wanting the information that Number Six had in his head? Asking why he had resigned? And how Number Six always wanted to know who ran The Village? All these and more are revealed - plausibly I hope - in the book.
How long is the book; is it a short story?
- The paperback is just over 320 pages, so qualifies as a full-length novel. It is professionally bound and is also available as a hardcover or eBook, all through Amazon. Although, if you happen to be visiting Porthmadog you can get a copy from Browsers Bookshop in the main street - the only place in the world you can buy it from a human rather than a robot.
Why did you publish it yourself? Would mainstream publishers not look at it?
- I didn't bother sending the manuscript to publishers or literary agents, for two reasons. One is that they receive dozens of manuscripts every week, maybe even hundreds, and I have a fear of rejection. Secondly, Unity is a work of 'fan fiction' and therefore unlikely to appeal to any mainstream publisher.
What do you mean 'fan fiction'; does that make it amateurish?
- Not at all. The rights to The Prisoner - that is, ownership of the original work, its storyline and its characters - are retained by television company ITV. I tried for over a year to ask if I could buy the rights to make the book 'official,' but when they did finally reply they weren't interested in even discussing it.
Therefore, in order for me to reference The Prisoner's storyline and some of its characters, I have had to make it an unofficial work of fan fiction, meaning that it is published purely for entertainment value.
So you won't be retiring on the profits from sales then?
- Alas no; I am not allowed to make any money from Unity. Any profit that is made will be donated to the RNLI, the UK's Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Some self-published works are badly written and/or full of errors. What makes you think yours is acceptable, or even professional?
- I have been writing for over forty years, although admittedly mostly for magazines, newspapers, radio or television, and I'm good at English. I was also a teacher for a while. I know where to put apostrophes, and I know what a split infinitive is (among other things). I have also edited others' writings, so I feel somewhat qualified to write this book. And I know how to tell a story.
But you got a professional editor to look at it and proofread it, didn't you? Please tell me you did.
- Er, no.
Isn't it risky to proofread and/or edit your own work?
- Definitely. Which is why it's really important for any author to get others to read their work before publication, and I did. I managed to cajole 12 'volunteers' (via social media mainly) to agree to read the first draft of Unity and to feedback their comments to me, along with any errors they'd spotted, or pieces of the story that didn't make sense.
Half these volunteers had never heard of The Prisoner, or knew almost nothing about it, while the other half were all Prisoner aficionados, fans if you like. I wanted to know if the book would appeal to both markets - the fans and the Prisoner 'virgins.'
How did that go?
- Extremely well. Some of the feedback was extensive and very professional, other responses were more general, but all were positive and all were helpful. My pre-readers spotted grammatical and punctuation errors, plot holes, and aspects that needed more explanation. It has made for a more professional book, and any errors that are in it now are entirely down to me (but I don't think there are any).
I hope you rewarded them!
- I did. Each has received a signed copy of Unity and they are all mentioned in the Acknowledgements section at the front of the book.
Wouldn't it have been safer to engage a professional editor/proof-reader though?
- Probably, but also very costly. I can't make any money from the book, remember.
Have you had any reviews yet?
- Yes, although of the many ratings on Amazon and Goodreads so far, only 12 of them are actual reviews. But they're all top ratings, and the reviews are glowing. The latest is from the author of Ritual, the book that was turned into the cult film The Wicker Man, David Pinner. He calls it 'a fine thriller.'
So you wrote the others yourself (phnar, phnar)...
- No I did not. How very dare you!
Okay, being serious for a moment, how important are reviews?
- Extremely, for any author, but especially those who self-publish as they help the buying public make up their minds whether to purchase or not. Reviews on Amazon have to be from 'verified purchases,' meaning that the reviewer has to have bought Unity from Amazon and not elsewhere. But Goodreads reviewers can review Unity regardless of where they got their copy from.
Can readers buy Unity anywhere other than Amazon?
- Yes, as I mentioned (were you listening?) there's a lovely indie bookshop in Porthmadog in North Wales called Browsers. Talk to Sian and she'll show you a collection of Prisoner-related books, including Unity. You can also get a paperback copy from me via this website. I'll even sign it for you.
Maybe I'll just get a copy from the library...
- Actually you won't because I haven't got Unity into the library system, yet. I'm looking into that.
Is this your first book?
- No. I wrote two self-help manuals (co-wrote the second one) for the New Zealand government when I lived there, slim volumes of no particular consequence, but it was nice to be officially commissioned. Then, quite some years later after my wife Liz and I had spent a year living on a boat in France cruising the French inland waterways, I wrote and published Against the Current - Au Revoir to Corporate Life and Bonjour to a Life Afloat, which is the story of that year's adventure. But Unity is my first novel.
I hear that Christopher Nolan is considering making a movie of The Prisoner. Will you send him your novel?
- I'd love to. If anyone knows his address can they please tell me? If I send it to his agent it will likely just get tossed in the bin. That's what agents do - they're just gate-keepers.
Ooh, vicious! Will you write another, a sequel maybe?
- Yes, I've already started writing the follow-up to Unity. This time though it takes some of the characters I created in Unity and sets them in a new adventure, though nothing to do with The Prisoner or any other television programme. This time I fully own the story, characters and the intellectual property.
When will it be published?
- Hopefully by the end of this year. Let's see.