I spy a career change... from espionage agent to novelist

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When Chris Morgan Jones embarked on a career as a corporate spy, working for the world’s largest business intelligence agency, he anticipated intrigue and excitement.

After three weeks of doing nothing but read about Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, he wasn’t so sure. “I was told we had to find out if he was ‘OK’ or not,” Mr Jones told yesterday’s Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch. “I don’t know if anybody will ever find out the answer.” There followed years of more traditional spy activity.

He fell into it after seeing an acquaintance in London. “I called hello and he ignored me. So I walked after him and called again. He turned round and said ‘Ssh, I’m following somebody’,” he said. Later, the acquaintance got in touch and asked if he’d like to join the company.

Mr Jones has drawn on his experiences for An Agent of Deceit, his debut novel, the story of an agent who attempts to bring down a corrupt senior Russian official.

Also speaking was David Hewson, whose novel of the hit television series The Killing is due to hit the shelves in the next few days. While adapting novels for film is a regular occurrence, doing it the other way round is less common.

“The original show was 20 hours long,” said Mr Hewson. “The first thing I did was buy a new screen, watch the whole thing and write out every scene. It took two months. I then decided which ones I’d cut, who would live, who would die.”

The final speaker was historical fiction author Anne O’Brien. The King’s Concubine is aimed at “giving a voice” to Alice Perrers, mistress of Edward III, reviled as ugly, power-hungry and manipulative. “I wanted to put forward a different point of view about her,” she said.