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Code 17 by Francis Booth

Code 17 by Francis Booth

Interviews with writers: Francis Booth – Code 17 thrillers and much much more

Francis Booth, a highly acclaimed writer based in St Leonards has more than twenty titles to his name. This year he has published two new thrillers: Code 17 and Code 17.2. Angela J. Phillip goes to see him to find out more.

Hello, Francis.
Hi Angela, it’s great to talk to you.

Francis Booth, writer

Francis Booth, writer

Could you tell me what made you move to St Leonards? How long have you been here?

We lived in Hackney in East London for twenty years. It used to be a great creative hub, but most of the artistic people had to move out because of the prices. Nine years ago, we came here and saw how creative St Leonards was; we decided to join the artistic exodus and now we wake up to a view of the sea every morning.

Are any of your novels based locally?

Not exactly, though in my novel sequence Nevermore there is a convent which is based on the Convent in St Leonards – it’s opposite our house and it’s very spooky and atmospheric, especially at night.

I understand that the first books you wrote were not thrillers. Could you say a little about why you started writing and what your early book/s were about?

My first two books were academic, one based on my Masters and one on my Doctoral thesis, which was about the British experimental novel. Thirty-five years later I decided to make them both into books and self-publish them. One was picked up by a publisher and it’s coming out of the beginning of next year.

You are also a translator. Songs of the Elder Sisters was a translation from Pali. Can you say a little about this book? Where were you when you translated it? How did it come about?

My first translations were done as libretti (see In the Grove) for a classical composer friend, Ronald Corp OBE . We started with Dhammapada, my translations of the Buddha’s words, which Ron set as an acapella choral work. Then I discovered these beautiful but unknown poems in Pali by nuns who followed the Buddha 500 years ago The poems are very personal and moving; about the experience of being a mature woman in society; Ron’s music is beautiful too.

Recently I read two of your books written for Young Adults. These were The Charlotte Strain and The January Legacy in The Watchers series. Instead of getting on with the things I had to do, I couldn’t put The Charlotte Strain down and read the second one straight after the first. They were fantasy, horror, humour and lightning-fast action combined. Page turners with all sorts of questions buried in the stories – the ethics of cloning, issues of identity, the nature of trust, evolution itself. Where did the idea come from for these books and do you plan more in this series?

The Watchers books are illustrated and the illustrations came before the text. There are two different sets of pictures, both of which I had for nearly 10 years before deciding what to do with them. As soon as I got the idea of how to combine them, using the Book of Enoch – which is a real, ancient text – as a source, the novels practically wrote themselves. I do have an idea for a third book in the series, though it would be quite different.

Your latest series is Code 17. These are thrillers set in the ‘60s with people of the time, like Twiggy, for instance, drifting around in the background. This made me feel as though I was there and your main character, Lady Laura is a thrilling character who can do anything. And who does! These are witty, action-packed stories and what I can only describe as ‘satisfying’. Lady Laura lives her life outside the bounds of convention. Can you tell us why you started writing thrillers? And where did Lady Laura come from?

Lady Laura also goes back 10 years. As well as writing books, I produce electronic music. I made an album back then which was a homage to the film and TV music that I invented an imaginary TV series from 1967 called Code 17 and its heroine, the glamorous upper-class art dealer/spy Lady Laura, who was a combination of Emma Peel from The Avengers and Sharron Macready from The Champions. Then last year I was uploading all of my music to a new site and I wondered if I could make a novel out of Code 17. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I’m old enough to remember a lot of the events that happened at that time and it was great to immerse myself in the world of Swinging ’60s London again.

I’m now going to ask you the question that all writers dread. What is your writing process? How do you start a book? Do you plan it? And how many hours per day do you write?

My non-fiction books are always planned in great detail, but the novels just flow from one chapter to the next. When I sit down to write a chapter I have no idea how it’s going to end – characters sometimes die on me in the middle of a chapter without me having planned it! I don’t have a set number of hours for writing but when I was doing Code 17 I was probably doing 2,000 words a day.

That’s impressive! I am a keen fan of your books. Can you tell us what you have planned next?

At the moment I’m trying to write a non-fiction book about women’s transgressive fiction but Lady Laura and Code 17 are calling! When my wife finished reading Code 17.2 she said, ‘you can’t leave it there. I want to know what happens next.’ I won’t know myself until I sit down and start writing Code 17.3!

Thank you, Francis – I wish all our readers the thrill of Code 17 and Code 17.2 while I wait longingly for Code 17.3.

Video taster of Code 17

Reviews of Code 17
Code 17 is ‘A wild and witty thriller’ – Set in London in the swinging sixties with a brief whizz over to New York and back, this is a thrilling, action-packed page-turner.

or from Rehka at The Book Decoder ….

‘Before I start with the blurb, I gotta say this – WHATTA story!! A complete hoot, keeps you on the edge of your seat and keeps you wanting more of Lady Laura’s adventures! If you are a spy thriller fan then you must read this book. MUST!! What are you waiting for? Go on and grab a copy of Code 17! Okay, not right away. Read my review and then you can go grab the book! 😉

To see more reviews of Code 17 , have a look on Amazon.

To buy any of the books mentioned above, please go to Hastings independent bookshops. If you are not able to do that, you can buy from Amazon.

And there is music, too. Listen to this!
Code 17 – music

and Francis’s two most recent musical collaborations under the Tektonix brand:



Posted 10:04 Sunday, Sep 15, 2019 In: Hastings Bookchat

Also in: Hastings Bookchat

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