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DECEMBER BOOK OF THE MONTH DISCUSSION THREAD - Thursday's bookclub session and author chat here

(166 Posts)
TillyBookClub Mon 07-Jan-08 11:26:27

Hi all, this is the discussion thread to come to this Thursday night 8-10pm for December's Book of the Month, Agent Zigzag. Author Ben Macintyre will be joining us from 9 onwards.

If you can't make the session and would like to ask Ben a question then do post it here now and we'll email it on. And if you want to post a question in advance pop it up here on this thread, and we'll email them to him. Ben will start with those on Thursday eve.

I'm hoarding the last of the pudding wine and Quality Street in anticipation (should be drinking something far more spy-like and sophisticated but never could stomach martini)

morningpaper Mon 07-Jan-08 11:30:11

Yes something spy-like

I want to go back to the days when a tasty spy whisked me off on his yacht and produced a bottle of cognac and some fine cigars

I mean that is proper manly stuff

morningpaper Mon 07-Jan-08 11:49:33

OK some questions:

- Why did you write the book? I mean, I can understand thinking "Hmm this obituary is interesting" but that is a far cry from thinking "I know, I will spend the next few years rummaging around the basement of MI5 for his old notebooks and write 200,000 words about it". Have you always had an interest in spies?

- How long did it take to research and write?

- I didn't like the way you slipped in the colloquialisms such as "slappers" and "whores" and "sluts" - it was a bit unnecessary I felt.

- Which part of the story surprised you the most?

- What has been the most interesting Chapman-related incident or new information that happened to you since the book was published?

- You are SO prolific and you have THREE CHLIDREN. How do you juggle it all?

TillyBookClub Tue 08-Jan-08 10:20:37

those are great questions, thanks morningpaper. will forward them now and Ben can get to work...

FluffyMummy123 Tue 08-Jan-08 22:34:38

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ahundredtimes Tue 08-Jan-08 22:36:20


FluffyMummy123 Tue 08-Jan-08 22:41:36

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TillyBookClub Wed 09-Jan-08 11:01:47

Bet he's never been asked that before. Have forwarded your ones too, icod. We kick off talking about the book at 8pm tomorrow. Ben is coming on about 9ish and will start with the advance questions, then it'll be a free for all from then on.

See you tomorrow

morningpaper Wed 09-Jan-08 21:35:39

Who the hell would eat a schotch egg sandwich, you freaky fish? That's like breadcrumbs in bread. Freak.

So Tilly do you have sensible book-club type questions that you ask tomorrow? Am v. excited.

Ben -

- What are you currently working on?

- Were there any points where you were researching Agent ZigZag where you thought you might be getting onto Dangerous Territory? (Or do I just watch Spooks too often?)

TillyBookClub Thu 10-Jan-08 11:38:57

I'm interested to know if Ben thinks Eddie was a hero or not - he's not exactly noble but you do find yourself thinking he's got serious balls. Or maybe he was just always saving his own skin and the patriotism was really a well-judged move on his part?

Looking forward to this evening very much indeed, should be a great chat. See everyone at 8pm.

morningpaper Thu 10-Jan-08 11:40:45

Oooh that's a good question, I wish I'd thought of that. See you later!

CarrieMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-Jan-08 12:07:54

I want to know who he sees playing the parts in the inevitable Hollywood blockbuster. I kept envisaging David Niven, but guess that's unlikely (and indeed shows my age grin).

morningpaper Thu 10-Jan-08 12:36:54

Jude Law seems like the right sort of chap I reckon.

Are there plans for a film? I think I read it somewhere...

Notyummy Thu 10-Jan-08 12:46:19

Nooo! Not Jude Law...he's just not right. How about David Tennant or James McAvoy?

Another question (if I'm too late for advance ones, I try and ask tonight instead)

Do you think he had a borderline personality disorder? The constant need for action/lying/womanising etc (or is that just MEN grin!)

ChampagneSupernova Thu 10-Jan-08 14:39:35

Hi Ben

I'm posting this now, in case I'm not here later. (hope to be)

First of all, both my husband and I loved the book - so refreshing to find a nonfiction book that went into enough detail to be interesting but was well paced and easy to read.

Secondly, I have just seen on Amazon that there's another book telling his story by someone else but that yours was published first. angry How much did that annoy you?

What are you working on next? Are you now a busy reader of the obits columns?

Also I'm interested in the film version - and agree Jude Law too girly to be Chapman.

morningpaper Thu 10-Jan-08 14:50:35

Christopher Eccleston?


Yes I saw that there was another book on the same topic, published in the same year, I think. Bastards. Did you know it was being researched by someone else at the same time? Did any fights break out over files in the cellars of MI5?

themonkeykeeper Thu 10-Jan-08 15:00:40

Kind of following on from Tilly's question - did you LIKE Eddie? He does some incredibly selfish things and then follows that with something that seems unselfish (but maybe was just part of his adrenaline junkie personality) but I really found myself liking him.

lemurtamer Thu 10-Jan-08 18:48:04

Posting in case I can't make it later.
I loved the book, couldn't wait to read the next chapter, and gave it as a Christmas present too.

Questions: was there a lot more research material that would not have added more interest to the story, or was pretty much all the research used in the book?

Do you think the Germans may have won the war if their codes had not been broken? I haven't read any "If the Germans had won the war" fiction nor much about the code-breaking, but wondered what you thought.

FluffyMummy123 Thu 10-Jan-08 18:49:10

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TillyBookClub Thu 10-Jan-08 19:24:07

yep, I did, icod. he'll be intrigued. And I want to know if he's the type of man who can handle a bread on bread snack.

see you at 8... calling Ben now to check he's all set and will send him some more of the advance questions...

fryalot Thu 10-Jan-08 19:29:33

I'm here already grin

But... I have to go at 9, so it looks like I will miss Ben himself.

My question to Ben is: When you decide to write a book like this, that needs tons of research, do you just (figuratively speaking) march right up to the powers that be and say "I'm writing a book, tell me stuff"? Or do you need references from publishers or the like. And would it have been possible to do had you not had contacts from the Times and several other books under your belt?

I also wanted to tell Ben that I enjoyed his book very much and was gripped from the word go.

morningpaper Thu 10-Jan-08 19:44:12

I'm here too

<takes good chair, gets out pen and notepad>

TillyBookClub Thu 10-Jan-08 20:01:50

Squonk's in luck, Ben is free to come on at 8.30 so has agreed to start author chat half an hour early. So we'll begin the chat at 8.30, not 9, everyone.

Squonk, can you hang here till then?

I'm here and ready to go. My Hollywood man would be Rupert Everett ( in a camp Casino Royale sort of version).

sophiewd Thu 10-Jan-08 20:03:03

I am ready to go, still thinking about Hollywood man, George is too old sadly.

themonkeykeeper Thu 10-Jan-08 20:05:03

Sorry if I've missed this somewhere in the book - but what was it about Eddies obituary that intrigued you? In the authors note at the beginning you say it was more about what it didn't say - so why did you think there was a story there?

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