With the release of Andy McNab’s new Nick Stone novel ‘Dead Centre’ we had a few questions for Andy – and he’s been so kind to answer them. Thank you Andy, welcome back to Grey Man’s Land!

10 Questions to Andy McNab

1. We were lucky to get the chance to read Dead Centre already and we noticed – again – your novel being very up-to-date on current world affairs. Since we can assume you didn’t write the whole book just last week, does it take a lot of last-minute work for you before it goes to print?

Andy: Much as I wish it only took me a week to write each novel, I have to start a lot earlier than that!

I’m involved in briefings for the Ministry of Defence, and they have a think-tank called ‘the Future Character of Conflict’ which looks ahead, and discusses possible future scenarios. Not major state conflicts, but all sorts of smaller, potential conflicts that might happen around the world. It looks at what effect these conflicts might have on commerce, for example, and how commerce might in turn effect the conflict. So I get to see what’s out there, bubbling under the surface, and I get to hear what might be about to kick off. I combine that with mainstream news and deeper feature stories that I take time to research, and then try to bring all of it together under the umbrella of fiction.

2. The title ‘Dead Centre’ is mentioned a few times in the book, but can you explain exactly what it means?

Andy: I always like to have two short, sharp words as my title, as I think that helps the book to be memorable. Dead Centre has a number of meanings, but I’d prefer the reader to work them out for themselves, as the title can mean different things to different people.

3. Our readers have, of course, read the synopsis but can you share a little bit more about Dead Centre?

Andy:  This time, Nick Stone’s got involved with a kidnap and ransom in Somalia, something which I felt was relevant to be looking at this time around. Nick gets approached by a Ukrainian guy who’s son and his mother have been snatched from their boat.

The book follows the outline of how these kidnap and ransom things work. When we hear it in the news, we only ever hear the end result: either someone has been killed or, someone has been rescued. The book shows how it really works. Nick leaves Moscow, where he’s currently living, and gets to Mogadishu and then further south to Merka to try and get the hostages out.

4. Nick Stone is still developing, getting more… mature, if you like, but still needs the action – getting ‘itchy feet’ as you describe it in the book. Since we see you still running around the world.. is this one of the Nick Stone qualities you based on yourself? Do you have itchy feet?

Andy:  If you mean that Nick always wants to be seeing new places and doing new things, then yes, I guess he shares that characteristic with me. I’m always trying new gadgets and getting involved in new things. I’ve just finished a motorbike race across the States for charity on big armchair Harley Davidsons, and the current thing I’m doing with any spare time I have right now, is surfing. I learnt how to surf a few years ago in Hawaii and I love it!

5. We got quite a shock in Zero Hour – in Dead Centre you treat us to another jaw-dropper. Do we have to fear for next year?

Andy:  I don’t want to tell you too much as I assume not everyone has read Dead Centre yet, but let’s just say that Nick’s life is as complicated as ever…

6. You’ll be doing a lot of touring to promote Dead Centre. At all events they mention ‘no photography allowed’. What happens if we smuggle in our camera?

Andy:  My publicist will show you the special forces tactics she’s been practicing…

No, not really, but we do have to have security in place. We always ask people not to take photos for the reasons that we’ve talked about on this site before – there are people that I worked with in Northern Ireland who are still out there and who’s lives and families would be put at risk from my identity being exposed.

7. Will there be more promotional activities we have to look out for?

Andy:  I’ll be doing some press and stuff at the end of October to promote Battlefield 3, the game, and also the tie-in novel, Battlefield 3: The Russian. I worked as a consultant on the game and then wrote the novel, which features one of the game’s characters. What’s great about Battlefield, is the story. That’s why I got involved with it. It’s all about the characters. If a game can get you to invest in its characters, then that’s what releases all the emotions: apprehension, fear, excitement, and so on. All that really works in this game. It’s really good.

8. A battle game with a tie-in novel… Is it plausible to think the gamers will read the novel and the readers will start gaming? What’s the idea behind this mix of book/game.

Andy:  A good question because I don’t know the answer. No one knows how this will play out. But it seemed something that made sense to do. I have been invited to work alongside many different gaming companies in the past, but up until now, I have always turned down their offers. But the opportunity to work with DICE and help develop Battlefield 3 was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. BF3 had something special, something that other games didn’t. The only word I can think of that explains it, is ‘substance’. BF3 wasn’t going to be a simple shoot ‘em up – it was going to be packed with emotion , grit and the sheer physicality to take any gaming experience to another level. Which it has already done and won 47 out of the 80 awards that are given to games around the world.

But it was clear as BF3 developed that the game is just one window into the BF3 experience – this book is another. It seemed a natural progression to write a novel based on the game as there is still so much more of the story to tell. I have told that story through the eyes of Dmitri ‘Dima’ Mayakosky’s, a Russia ex Spetsnaz Special Forces soldier. Ho finds himself in a world that no longer has the certainly of the old Communist dictatorship he once served. Dima will certainly never win a humanitarian award for the role he plays in BF3, but the novel gives you the opportunity to see things from his point of view, and maybe understand the decisions and actions he takes against the players as they progress through the game. And who knows, maybe a player might just pick up a book and start reading for the first time in years?

9. No Grey Man’s Land interview with you seems complete without the long-term question.. any movie news?

Andy: YES! Echelon, the film adaptation of Firewall, my first Nick Stone thriller, is currently in pre-Production and is coming along nicely… watch this space.

10. Last Question: we love quotes, do you have a typical ‘Andy McNab’ quote for us?

Andy: ‘Never eat tomatoes or anything bigger than your head.’

LOL, Pablo Neruda might disagree with you on the tomatoes, but I’m sure our readers will keep this in mind! Thank you for the interview Andy, we’ll hope to hear from you again!


Andy McNab’s new Nick Stone novel ‘Dead Centre’ will be released on 15 September. Click here to pre-order

And you can read in this blogpost how Grey Man’s Land rated ‘Dead Centre’.