About the Book:
Ex-Army intelligence Danny Swift has always yearned to be an artist. By coincidence, he meets art dealer Hafiz De Mercurio who promises to help him launch his career. Little does Danny know that Hafiz hides behind a deadly cloak of deception until British intelligence recruit Danny, and his perilous mission is to covertly observe the elusive Hafiz. They believe something big is coming, something coordinated, a terror spectacular to rival anything seen before, and the key lies in a cypher hidden in works of art. Unable to refuse, Danny is drawn into a world he’d turned his back on, a world of lies, deception and double-dealing.
As the clock ticks down and Danny begins to crack the code surrounding the enigmatic Hafiz, Danny will be tested in ways he never imagined… including preventing the massacre of innocent people and artworks on display in the eleven Gagosian galleries around the world.
“My book is directly influenced by my love of art; both collecting and being an artist, also drawing on my knowledge and experiences within the security world,” explains C. J. Anthony, who has both exhibited in London and been a former British soldier, technical advisor and security specialist in the Middle East. “I’m inspired by the experiences that have happened in my life, taking certain events that I think would make an interesting story, and putting them creatively together.”
The plot was inspired by a signed limited edition print by Damien Hirst that the author owns titled Controlled Substances. Resembling some sort of code to produce a cypher, this was the catalyst to begin A Spot of Vengeance, a tale of art with an intoxicating mix of conspiracy and terrorism.
Seductively written, this book will captivate the readers from the novel’s opening pages to its cleverly twisted conclusion.
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?
I’m passionate about anything creative, I’m an avid art collector, a keen painter and I have exhibited in London. For long as I can remember I have always been creative, and I’m obsessed with it. To produce something to evoke an emotion in others is quite overwhelming.
I’m a former British soldier and security specialist mainly working within the Middle East. I had toyed with the idea of writing a book for some time, I had some ingredients; characters, settings and genre. I just needed the right plot to bind it all together. I’m inspired by my experiences that have happened in my life, taking certain events that I think would make an interesting story, and put them creatively together. By altering the truth, I create a more engaging story, a book needs a kind of organic intensity.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
For me it’s when I wake up in the early hours and go to my office and write, there’s just something calming and inspiring about that time of day, when your still half asleep with a cup of coffee and music playing in the background.
My favourite place to write, when I’m home in the UK is my study as it faces out onto a wooded area, which is very pleasing on the eye, however I get distracted by the wildlife.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
My current manuscript is directly influenced by my love of art; both collecting and being an artist, also drawing on my knowledge and experiences within the security world. One afternoon I was sitting at home having a coffee with the TV on in the background, whilst flicking through one of my art books published by British artist Damien Hirst. The book illustrates over a thousand of his famous various spot paintings, spanning over twenty-five years. (1986-2011)
As part of my art collection, I own a signed limited edition print by Hirst. This limited edition is titled (Controlled substances); the original was publically on display at the Tate Modern gallery in London in 1994. The painting is Based on the simple format of the grid, the painting feature circular ‘spots’ of coloured paint lined up at regular intervals, with the spaces between them always the same distance as their diameter, on a white background. With all the letters of the Alphabet and numbers next to an opposing spot, visually this particular edition resembles some sort of code to produce secret cyphers.
I’d already known about the Damien Hirst exhibition back in 2012, which I missed due to work commitments. It was a major retrospective celebrating his spot painting series, simultaneously across all the eleven Gagosian galleries worldwide. While I was flicking through the pages of the Hirst book, I noticed that the film The Imitation Game was on TV, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during the second world war.
That very moment was my epiphany, my catalyst to start writing, in my excitement I got up from off my sofa and walked over towards the Hirst edition print that was hung up on the wall. I took it from off the wall and placed it down in the centre of the living room floor. Pausing for a moment in thought, I then started to carefully tear out pages from the Hirst book, placing them around the print in a sort of strategic pattern. At this stage, it didn’t really make sense, but visually it helped me put together the plot. Eleven galleries, eleven owners, cryptography and a bit of art and terrorism thrown into the mix. I quickly went to my study and got my notebook and pen and started to plan, plot and prepare − A Spot of Vengeance. Taking me a total of nine weeks to write the full manuscript, while I was in my office in Basra.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
Yes, I always have a plan, then over time my ideas manifest into the story, mainly the ending and a few twists. Then I start working back – Keeping the subject matter at the forefront.
My inspiration for my characters are real-life: People who I’ve met at work or by mere happenstance. I always make efforts to cover up the real person’s true identity. When I meet people I study them, personality, body language and behaviour, then I think how they would make a great character in my stories. I carefully consider which ones would fit which plots, and then write the right ones in. Settings are, again, mainly inspired by places I’ve been, as long as the place is aesthetically pleasing or aesthetically interesting as it brings a realistic filmic feel to the narrative. Fantasy is escapism, and is vital for developing the human mind, and it’s humbling to create a world that people will appreciated.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
I’m a fan of action movies and well written series (Box sets), combined with the love of art it has inspired me to write thrillers. I enjoy keeping the reader engrossed in each chapter.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
Wow, great question. It’s funny when I start planning the story from the beginning, I find the actors that would suit each character in my books from films that I have watched. I then start by comparing their visual look and style of acting to suit the role I want them to play.
Protagonist: Danny: Jamie Bell
Antagonist: Hafiz: Javier Bardem.
Female assassin: Gal Gatot (Played wonder woman)
EX Mi6, Thom: Mel Gibson
EX Mi5, Serpentine gallery art dealer: Bernadette: Racheal McAdams.
Christopher Art curator: Eddie Izzard
Ryan Garcia: Ewan McGregor
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I travel a lot and I always pick up a few books from the airport when I’m departing for somewhere. I don’t have a particular favorite author, if the blurb captures my imagination I buy it.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
I’ve just read two great books – The opposite of loneliness by Marina Keegan and Machines like us by Ian McEwan.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t have a favourite book as such, memory and nostalgia certainly seems to play a big part in what books people like, however from the books I enjoyed reading as a child and growing up I may not read now.
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
My advice would be to always plan out your concept, so you can see it visually on a white board or wall – from start to finish – showing sub plots and back stories. This way you can move things around, so the narrative flows. Then leave it to rest for a few days, but write down any new ideas that pop into your head then add later. Most importantly read the text out loud, this way any errors will reveal themselves! Professional edit and a proofread is a must.
If you should experience writers block, which you will! – go out for a walk and dream the scene/ chapter over and over, so it works and makes sense in your mind, then take notes and build on it.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
Instagram IG: @cjanthonybooks and LinkedIn C J Anthony (Art collector and Author)
About the Author:
Born in Birmingham, C. J. Anthony’s debut draws on his experiences as a former British Soldier, technical advisor and security specialist in the Middle East. He is passionate about anything creative, an avid art collector and a keen painter who has exhibited in London.