Despite being quite busy in Hollywood, Andy McNab was kind enough to take what time he could out of his schedule to chat with greymansland.com about Exit Wound, Dropzone, and of course the rumoured ‘Echelon’ movie deal. Transcript below:
GML: Many critics and fans have called Exit Wound the best Nick Stone novel yet. We know that when writing fiction, you are often inspired by real events. Can you tell us more about the background behind Exit Wound’s story-line?
Andy McNab: Great news to hear that Exit Wound is so well liked. The whole idea was based around a story that came out of ‘rumour control’. The story was that Saddam had these two huge golden doors made for his palace in Basra and that they never got delivered from Dubai because of the war. I first heard this story when I was at Basra Palace in 2007. I was visiting 2 Rifles who were the last infantry battalion to stay for the whole six-month tour in the city. The battalion was full of rumours about hidden gold within the palace compound. There were more holes in the ground from the lads digging than there was from the rocket and mortar attacks. After that trip it was really playing with the idea using a people that have spent years talking about how best to rob banks and more importantly how to get away with it. Julian, Red Ken and Dex are based on mates from the regiment that I’ve known for over 20 years. They are just as smooth, stupid and serious as they are in the book.
GML: What places did you visit to research Exit Wound? Usually these places don’t seem to be the regular tourist areas; any interesting anecdotes from your latest trips to the dodgier side of town?
Andy McNab: I was very lucky with Exit Wound as they weren’t too many recces to carry out. I know Dubai quite a while and have spent some time in Russia. In fact I was due to go last summer with my daughter who has become quite friendly with a Russian friend of mine. He called me from Moscow three days before we were due to leave to say he had some bad news. I thought it was about his wife who was due to have a baby within the next month. However he was phoning from his hospital bed after being shot in a Moscow hotel. He was more concerned about my daughter meeting up with his as they were really looking forward to it. Our parting words were ‘maybe next year.’
GML: You are a big supporter of one of our favourite charities, Talking2Minds. What attracted you to Talking2Minds? Do you feel, with the additional publicity of late, things are starting to change when it comes to PTSD?
Andy McNab: I met the lads from Talking2Minds at a PTSD conference where I was giving the opening address. I think the way they are tackling the problem is fantastic and they are getting some great results. Things are starting to change both in the perception the public has about soldiers with PTSD, and the way we are dealing with the problem . I am helping out on a project that is being run by the head of army psychiatry and hopefully the project should be out in the public domain early next year. One thing that is clearly come out this project so far is that the vast majority of soldiers, sailors and airmen who leave the armed services do very well back in the real world. That’s good for two reasons and the main one is that we can concentrate on the minority of people who really need help.
GML: What’s the status for ‘Echelon’, the Nick Stone movie based on Firewall, these days?
Andy McNab: All looking good. What I have learnt during this process is that on average film costing $70m takes about 11 years to get up and running. We’re at the stage now where contracts are signed but there are more Chiefs than Indians running around saying what they want done. However, the script is now finished and so…
GML: Dropzone: Bk.1, your new novel for the youth market, was just released. Your ‘Boy Soldier‘ youth series was written with a co-writer (Robert Rigby). Why no co-writer this time, and what differences might we see with you as the only writer?
Andy McNab: I thought I would just give it a go. Whilst collaborating on the Boy Ssoldier series it became very evident to me that there is no difference between writing adult and teenage fiction. Of course, there are restrictions on profanity, and the fact that a teenager cannot actually kill anybody. But apart from that, there is nothing different, a story is a story. I’m hoping that the style Drop Zone is written in works that adult readers as well.
GML: Finally, Andy, what’s the best joke you ever heard in your entire military career?
Andy McNab: Nope, not gonna tell you!
GML: Thank you very much indeed for your time and best wishes from all of your fans here at greymansland.com
It’s always an honour, a pleasure, and a laugh to hear from Andy. Read more Andy McNab Interviews.