Photograph of Lynsey
Q+A with bomb disposal expert Major Chris Hunter
by Lynsey on Apr 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm
Categories: News

Extreme Risk by Major Chris Hunter is published by Bantam Press this week. Chris took a moment out of his busy publicity schedule to talk to Between the Lines.

Chris HunterWhat did you do before you joined the army?
I joined the Army when I was sixteen, so pretty much joined straight from school, although I worked in my parents restaurant after school from the age of 14.

Why did you decide to train as a bomb disposal expert?
I think people do it for a number of reasons. I know some do it for the ­ adrenalin rush, others to seek atonement for darker episodes in their livesBut I think most do it out of a good old-fashioned sense of duty – just because they want to make a difference. For me, I guess it was a bit of all three.

How long did it take you to train?
The basic ammunition technical officers course (the Army’s counter-terrorist bomb disposal operators) complete 14 months of basic trade training, before undertaking a minimum of a years on-the-job training; only then can they attempt the two-month high threat operators course.  It has one of the highest failure rates in the British Army.only 10% pass first time.

How many bombs did you diffuse?
I neutralised scores of IEDs and hundreds of items of other unexploded ordnance

Which countries have you worked in?
Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and a few slightly more operationally sensitive ones.

What was the most difficult part of your job?
Being away from my family – it never ever got any easier.

What was the most difficult situation you found yourself in?
Being targeted by insurgents for assassination when I was serving as an operator in Iraq.  Eventually it came to a head when the Shia insurgents placed a booby-trapped car bomb outside an hospital in the Sunni-dominated part of Basrah.  They expected me to deal with it by hand…but I had other ideas…and I’m still alive to tell the tale!

What was the best part of your Job?
The teamwork and camaraderie and the immense sense of gratification that comes with preventing a device that’s designed to kill and maim, from doing so.

How would a typical day pan out for you?
One minute I could be in the UK, going for a run, or shopping for groceries in Sainsbury’s…and the same day I could be parachuting out of an aircraft or arresting terrorists in Gloucestershire.  The variety was a huge part of the appeal.

How big was your team?
We started with 8 men, but were ambushed and badly shot up during an ambush on my fifth day in Iraq. It was a miracle that we all survived, but from that day onwards, we never deployed with less than twelve people in the team.

Would you encourage individuals to choose this career path?
Absolutely, it’s got to be about the most fascinating and exciting thing I’ve ever done without getting arrested!

If you had to choose another job, what would it be?
Having read Ed Macey’s brilliant autobiography ‘Apache’…being an Apache helicopter pilot would win hands-down.

Extreme Risk     Click here to get your copy of Extreme Risk, out now!

The What Shall I Read?
Photograph of Elizabeth
A day spent annoying the French with Stephen Clarke
by Elizabeth on Apr 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm
Categories: News

If we Brits have been annoying the French for 1000 Years, would one more day really hurt? 

I met Stephen at London Liverpool Street where we grabbed un crème (not a café au lait – apparently there is a big difference) and headed off to Hertfordshire for a talk and Signing at a local library.At the library, we were greeted in the most British of manners – tea, cake and vigorous handshakes.  Little did the library know they had laid on a banquet, irresistible to the British male living in France – the veritable delicacy that is the cheese and pickle sandwich.  Apparently 15 years of baguettes and camembert leave an Englishman craving mature cheddar and Branston’s (contrary to popular belief, the baguette, we later learned is not actually French, nor is the croissant or champagne but more on this later…) In the fabulously entertaining yet meticulously researched 1000 Years of Annoying the French, we soon see that many of the infamous ‘French’ creations are nothing less than 100% English – sorry France.  Take the story of Champagne, for example…

Pierre Pérignon, native of the Champagne district and master at the abbey of Hautvillers near Épernay in 1668, actually spent much of his career trying to make Champagne less fizzy as the bottles in his winery kept exploding.  The English on the other hand, thanks to the invention of coal-fired furnaces, were able to make thicker and more durable bottles capable of storing the sparkling wine.  So while the French are able to lay claim to the regional name as Champagne is undeniably in France, it was the English who made bubbly what it is today,  ‘Londoners could have fun with the controlled pop of a Champagne cork instead of diving for cover under the table.’ But meanwhile, in present day Hertfordshire… 

After a gallon of PG tips and several kilos worth of cheese and pickle sandwiches in our bellies, we went back to London for some much needed rest and recuperation… in preparation for 1000 more years of annoying the French.  A potential sequel…?

For more information on Stephen Clarke and his latest bestseller, 1000 Years of Annoying the French, go to

The What Shall I Read?
Photograph of Lynsey
Categories: News

Here is your first chance to watch the book trailer for Tess Gerritsen’s new Rizzoli & Isles thriller The Killing Place.

Stranded in a mysterious village, Maura Isles faces a terror like nothing she’s ever experienced before and when Jane Rizzoli flies out to find her, a terrifying and gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow…

Watch and shiver!


Out 26th June 2010!

The Killing Place

The What Shall I Read?
Photograph of Lynsey
Categories: News

One year ago, a modest middle-aged woman from a village in Scotland was catapulted to global fame when the YouTube video of her audition for Britain’s Got Talent touched the hearts of millions all over the world. 

From singing karaoke in local pubs to live performance in Japan’s famous Budokan Arena, Susan Boyle became an international superstar with her record-breaking first album. 

This astonishing transformation has not always been easy for Susan, faced with all the trappings of celebrity, but in the whirlwind of attention and expectation, she has always found calm and clarity in music.  Susan was born to sing.

Now, for the first time, Susan tells the story of her life and the challenges she has struggled to overcome with faith, fortitude and an unfailing sense of humour.  She says:

‘When I strutted onto the stage for that audition, I was a scared wee lassie, still grieving for my mother, not caring how I looked.   I think I’ve grown up a lot in the last year, become more of a lady, and I’m not so frightened anymore.  I’m writing this book to try to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I hope it will benefit other people.  My story demonstrates that you shouldn’t just look at the label, you should look at the whole person, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually, and I hope that telling it will show that dreams are not impossible, if you’ve got courage and a willingness to go on no matter what the circumstances.’

For further details contact Alison Barrow, Director of Media Relations, Transworld Publishers

Susan Boyle

The What Shall I Read?
Photograph of Lynsey
A Completely Novel approach to Blogging!
by Lynsey on Apr 7, 2010 at 12:22 pm
Categories: News

Competition: Author Blog Awards

If you’re not already a member of Completely Novel now’s a great time to sign up! Not only is it a great site to be a part of but when you do you’ll be able to vote for Christopher Fowler who has just been shortlisted for the brand new author blog awards! Check out Christophers blog for funny, erudite and interesting posts everyday! Make your vote count!  


The What Shall I Read?