If you’ve read my review of Anthony Good’s novel, Kill [redacted], you’ll know how much I enjoyed it, so I was keen to hear from him about his writing.
In Kill [redacted] a man loses his wife in a terrorist attack and decides to take revenge, not on the terrorists, but on the politician who he believes is ultimately responsible. What was the inspiration for the novel?
Anger, mainly. My shock at the invasion of Iraq. I was about 16 at the time and thought it was inconceivable that the war would happen – a supplemental war to the one we’d already begun in Afghanistan.
Then the 7/7 bombings seemed like the reflex of the chaos we’d inflicted abroad.
Writing Kill [redacted] was a way to get over it: to inhabit my anger, and to put it to rest. There’s a reason the main character is in therapy!
There is some fascinating detail in the novel about the arms industry and technology. How did you go about researching it?
The research into the arms industry was largely done to prop up whatever was needed in the plot. In that sense, I was going through some of the same motions Michael does – looking up different arms fairs and legislation surrounding different weaponry. We live in an age of – if not transparency – at least great translucency: the Stockwell One report into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes is available online, and is both a sickening glimpse into the events of that day and an ambitious literary work (if it were fictional it’d be a masterpiece of storytelling). Likewise there are online registries of historical Freedom of Information requests, which is how I found some (heavily redacted) example specimens for Section Five authorisations (that is, permission to possess guns).
As for technology, I’m a web developer by day, so a lot of my research into web and communications technology for the novel was an adjunct to my own professional knowledge. I’m fascinated by how computers work, and think generally popular culture does a bad job of representing it sanely. Fictional hackers, especially, may as well be shouting “abracadabra” at their keyboards most of the time. Having said that, Michael, the main character of the novel, does become something of a computer mystic by the end.
Your first novel has just been published – has the experience been what you expected? How do you feel about going from writing to promoting your work?
I signed the contract in November 2017. I didn’t really have any expectation of what publication would be like – though I had of course imagined a few best and worst case scenarios! The process has been so long that I feel like the effects of being published will take a while to reveal themselves (if there are any).
The promotional activities themselves can be fun, but they can also be nerve-wracking, and require effort that might otherwise be spent actually writing. As it is I’m just trying to enjoy anything that comes my way.
What do you enjoy reading? Tell us about
– A book that has stayed with you
I read The White Hotel by DM Thomas partly as a kind of research for Kill [redacted]: it’s a novel that features Sigmund Freud as a character and a fictionalised case history, so I thought it might offer some useful material…
It opens with letters posing as historical documents, moves onto verse, then an erotic allegory, then a case history – the ending was powerful and shocking, all the more so for hovering somewhere between fact and fiction.
– A recent book you enjoyed
I really enjoyed Harriet Tyce’s debut domestic thriller Blood Orange. As well as being a real page turner it’s a timely exploration of consent, power, and sexual politics.
– A book you can’t wait to read
I recently gave a talk at a RiffRaff event in Brixton with four other authors, and I was floored by the variety and intelligence of their books, so I’m bumping them to the top of my reading list: The Last by Hanna Jameson, The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea, The Study Circle by Haroun Khan and Bobby Denise is Reigning Rampant by Daniel Ross.
What are you working on now?
A former colleague of mine joked that eventually Artificial Intelligence will reach such a stage of maturity that the ‘Artificial’ will be dropped: it’ll just be Intelligence.
In which case, I’m working on a novel about Intelligence.
Anthony Good studied at Oxford and the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of a Man Booker scholarship. Kill [redacted] is his first novel. He lives in London with his partner and child.