It’s life, Jim

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

What elements from your life are woven into your latest book?

Travel, to strange and exotic lands. I spent most of the 1970s and 80s at sea, those were times before globalisation, when everywhere you went was completely different to everywhere else. Places like the USSR of Brezhnev, the Philippines of Marcos, and all the rest, they each had something special to offer, a uniqueness; even though they were all on the same planet.

It got me thinking, if countries were this diverse, how different would one planet be to the next, in some far-off future?

Which brings me rather neatly to my next novel.

In The Hitman and the Thief, my hero, Dan Jones (not his real name) is a contract killer, fed up with his life and determined to leave it all behind, after one last job. When things don’t go according to plan and before he can contemplate retirement, he is forced halfway across the galaxy to try and make things right.

Now you may have decided that I’m not an international hitman (and what if I were? Would I tell YOU?), and I’m not living in the future, on a planet called Gallix.

But, like Dan in this book, I spent a lot of time going to all sorts of different places, trying to understand and fit in with the local customs while doing a job for my employer. In that way, being a merchant seaman has a lot of similarity with being an international hitman (only joking).

The great thing about my sea-going career was that it gave me a store of information, stories and events which I could dress up and send out into my words, either the worlds of the future or those of an alternative now.

And my life didn’t just provide the hard landscaping for my writing.  While it’s true that spaceships are really only ships, just in a different medium and that travel; whether it’s to the islands of the Banda Sea or the furthest reaches of the Galaxy, is the same, there is another element.


The benefit of seeing all those cultures, untainted by too much foreign influence, meant that they had their own way of dealing with life. Travel gave me a wonderful insight into human nature. And it helped me to develop my own way of looking at things, an amalgamation of the best (or worst) of all I’ve been party to.

Whether it’s the world-weary cynicism of Dave Travise, the naive hope of Horis Strongman or the befuddlement of Andorra Pett, they’re all based on reality, somewhere and somewhen.

 It’s important to remember that, when we move out into the galaxy, we will take all our emotional baggage with us. And I like to think that we will keep the same ways of dealing with it, as well as being influenced by our new surroundings.

So, to answer the question (and regular readers will know that’s a rare thing for me), there’s a little of me and my life in all my books, if you know where to look.

The Hitman and the Thief will be published on September 1st and is available for pre-order at just 99p.

Assassination can be a messy business, especially if you’re having a bad day.

Dan Jones is the ultimate problem solver, the hitman for crime boss Fliss Bauer.

Fliss has a rival, Kalindra Dallin. She runs a particularly unpleasant planet. Dan is told to arrange her demise. It’s just another job; until a random event means that it all goes horribly wrong.

To save his skin, Dan is forced to try again, only this time he has to work with a partner. He doesn’t want to but it’s the only chance he’s going to get; if he wants to put things right.

Can the hitman and the thief get the job done, more importantly, can they keep each other alive?

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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12 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    Hi Richard, yes you must have a wealth of stories to tell based on your travels. I’m a homebird, so must rely on places I’ve already visited. I’ve no desire to go travelling at all now.

    • Richard Dee

      I’m in no danger of running out of inspiration anytime soon. My travelling days are over, I’m content in my corner of Devon, while my mind is half a galaxy away.

  2. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    An interesting post, Richard. It seems like we all weave a lot of ourselves and our experiences into our books, which makes absolute sense.

    • Richard Dee

      Thanks, Robbie. No experience is ever wasted, they can all be dressed up and sent into my fictional worlds.

  3. P.J. MacLayne

    I hate seeing the uniqueness of this world being swallowed by big corporations. Even small towns USA now feel as if they come from the same mold.

    • Richard Dee

      Travel used to be a voyage of discovery. Now it seems that people just get their home in a different place. Sad.

  4. Joelle LeGendre

    Very insightful. We do throw a lot of ourselves into our books, but I’ll bet you spend a lot of time looking up stuff like, “how to use a knife in a fight” too. 🙂

    • Richard Dee

      I dread my search history falling into the wrong hands.

  5. phil huston

    I’m sure he powers that be wonder what the hell I’m doing researching grenade launchers. And synthesizers. And YouTube videos of helicopters…
    I remember a world before homogenization. Watched small towns go from what they were to a mall, a Walmart and franchise food. The slowest Taco Bell in the universe is in Meridian, Mississippi.
    There’s a piece of us in everything we do…

    • Richard Dee

      I’ve somehow resisted asking google how to kill someone yet. I’m sure it will come. There’s a tremendous sadness about travel these days, why do people want to spend all that time getting to a place that’s the same as home? The same as city dwellers moving to the country and then complaining that the locals don’t want it to be a city.

  6. Gladys Strickland

    I lived in England in the late 1980s and traveled on the Continent quite a bit. Each time you crossed a border, you had to show your passport and change your money. You really felt like you were going somewhere new.

    • Richard Dee

      That’s right, everywhere was individual and proud of it. Now there seems to be a rush to be like everywhere else.

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