Former Sussex Express reporter and sub-editor Nick Macfie has drawn upon his own journalistic experiences and adventures to pen his second novel.
Kiss Me Hadley is a comic thriller about a hapless reporter, who fancies himself as a bit of a James Bond, but quickly finds himself out of his depth against a backdrop of exotic locations and illegal gambling.
Macfie, a British Reuters journalist with 30 years’ experience as a foreign correspondent and editor, displays a strong eye for the absurd and surreal.
The former Sri Lanka bureau chief has spent most of his career in Asia with spells in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Beijing, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong – the location for his new book.
There are obvious similarities between the writer and his protagonist Hadley Arnold – both are Brits working in the Far East as journalists – but the parallels may well end there.
Macfie said: “A lot of the stories he goes on overlap somehow with stories I did but Hadley, I would have to say, is more feckless and accident-prone.
“He’s good at what he does but he finds events overtake him rather than he overtaking events.
“He gets surprised by things rather a lot. Events are not as he expects them to be. He’s frequently confused.
“There’s a great deal of adventure in the novel but there are also many surreal moments. It’s a very visual, colourful story.”
Macfie knows his subject matter. As well as his vast experience in covering international news stories he also worked for a spell at a casino in London’s Soho as a young man – an experience which helped inform many of the gambling scenes in Kiss Me, Hadley.
As a foreign correspondent he’s had his share of adventure – from being shot at by rebels in Sri Lanka – where his office was also blown up – to having rockets fired at him in Afghanistan.
But his most frightening experience wasn’t war related. It came in Sri Lanka when he was forced to stop his car at night on an isolated road after he came face to face with a small group of wild elephants.
He said: “I had only ever seen elephants in zoos but this was something else entirely. The trick is, you don’t make a noise. Otherwise you can trigger a stampede. I was all for opening and slamming the door and offering them bananas. One of the cameramen I was with told me in language I can’t repeat here to shut up. And I was his boss.
“He almost put his hand over my mouth to make sure I didn’t make a sound.”