Security Novel Series -
© Copyright, John M Upton. 1992 to 2012
All Rights Reserved
It was in October of 1992 that the first completed version of the first novel, then untitled but later to become 'Hainault' appeared.
It was rough, ready and needed a hell of a lot of work to it before it was anything like presentable but it was a start and established the basis for the series that is now very much alive and well today.
Had it not been for the Internet, there is every good chance it would never have seen the light of day internationally, instead remaining a one off story read by my grandmother and a few select others.
Indeed it was not until around 2000 that the novel made it online and a further couple of years before the long planned second novel 'Holborn' appeared.
As time has gone by and my writing style has grown, the speed with which the novels has been written has increased. Hainault took the best part of eight years to reach the final polished version, Holborn was the best part of eighteen months but Westminster with its extremely complex plot, probably the most complicated in the series took just ten days, partially helped by the fact that its storyline had been brewing in my mind for some time prior to writing commencing.
Indeed I have now reached the point where I am completing three novels a year, 2007 so far being the most productive with Earl's Court, Lewisham, Epping and Liverpool Street all appearing between January and September 2007 with easily the possibility of Marylebone appearing before the end of the year.
Gradually as the series has moved on and the storylines become more intertwined and complicated, the length of the novels has increased. Originally I thought Hainault was rather long but as it turns out it became one of the shorter episodes in the series but probably the most important as it laid the foundations for some of the key characters.
With the publication of ‘Cannon Street’ in 2010, the series had reached a total of 1,330,441 words on 3,295 pages. If anyone wants to compile the statistics on how long it takes to read all that lot in sequence then please let me know!
Pick of the Bunch...
If I were to pick my favourite episodes in the series, then it would have to be three really big story arc novels 'Waterloo' (concluding events set in motion back in 'Hainault') 'Westminster' where everything gets very exciting and of course 'Lewisham' which finally reveals the background to the character of 'The Commander' and just what happened back in 1969 that changed his life forever.
Least favourite? Beyond a doubt 'Moor Park' as it just never seemed right to me. It was an amalgam of two potential novel plot lines brought together plus it was 'in the way' prior to being able to write 'Westminster' which I had been looking forward to starting for a long time.
Nods & Acknowledgements...
Through the series there have been nods and references, be it a line, homage or direct reference to things that have influenced me or I grew up with.
The eagle eyed will have spotted through the series subtle references to three James Bond films, the excellent and inspirational Alan Bleasdale drama 'G.B.H.', Ghostbusters, Death Line, Babylon 5, The Sweeney and The Taking of Pelham 123!!
So who are the many and varied characters that appear throughout the series? Of course all of them are fictional but certain elements are based on real people who I have met over the years.
One question asked recently was which character in the series is closest to myself. In all honesty the character of Simon Fuller comes pretty close to myself but I am actually in the series in person making the occasional cameo appearance, the most obvious one used to be as a passenger on a Number 8 bus at the very end of 'Waterloo' but subsequently I seemed to have disappeared from later editions. The conductor on that bus meanwhile who also appears in the connecting opening scene of 'Moor Park' is based on the person to whom 'Waterloo' is dedicated to and in turn was the inspiration for the character of Amber in 'London Bridge' and 'Cannon Street'.
Names & Places...
The names are fictional but many of the places that appear are based on actual locations with a little artistic licence used along the way. The only really fictional locations that appear are the City of Haychester (in effect Chichester in West Sussex) and in the thirteenth novel, the preserved steam railway between Christ's Hospital in Sussex and Guildford in Surrey which in fact has its basis in truth being based on the long closed railway line that once ran between those two locations until its closure in 1964.
Most of the locations, particularly the London ones will be familiar to residents and regular visitors to them with a fair number of the familiar tourist hot spots regularly featuring. One thing I really must try and do however is get out of setting things in Victoria Street all the time, unfortunately as it is the main road that links Victoria Station, New Scotland Yard and Westminster, there is sometimes no avoiding it!!
I like accuracy in any form of storytelling and this extends to the frequently seen forms of transport that have appeared over the years. I have always tried to ensure that whenever a character boards a Underground train then it is the right type of stock for that line and that the journey undertaken is one that can be done at real life at time of writing.
So far the series has featured:
The oddest occurrence as a result of writing these novels? An easy question to answer!
Picture the scene, sometime in 2009 as I was concluding the writing of 'London Bridge' I was writing the scene where certain characters travel from East Croydon to London Bridge on a Horsham to London stopping service, a train I regularly work as part of my day job complete with the authentic timings and even the number of carriages involved.
I could not put myself in as the Conductor of that train however, I had appeared already in the series so I loosely based the cameo appearance of the Conductor of that train there on someone I know and thought nothing more of it. I had never mentioned to anyone at work that I write so figured (wrongly as it would turn out!!) that no one knew anything about them.
Shunt forward just a couple of days in time and there I am on a train about to finish when the aforementioned colleague relieves me of the service with the words 'Oh by the way, I am reading your novels...' My jaw almost hit the floor in amazement. I wonder if she has got to reading 'London Bridge' and noticed something yet...
(Originally written for the Fifteenth Anniversary in 2007, this has since been updated and is now a general authors viewpoint on the history if the series.)