Friday, 12 August 2016

Guest Blog post from Andy McNab about his new YA novel Street Soldier

11th August 2016, Doubleday Children's, 352 pages, Hardback

Book summary
The    most    autobiographical    novel    yet    from    ex    SAS    operative    and    bestselling    author    Andy    McNab.       

Street    Soldier    follows    the    experiences    of    one    troubled    teenager    embroiled    in    gang    violence    and    heading    towards    a    life    of    crime.    When    the    army    offers    Sean    Harker    a    way    out    of    prison,    much    as    it    did    to    Andy    McNab    himself,    it    opens    up    opportunities    he    never    knew    existed,    and    tests    him    in    ways    he    never    anticipated.       
Sean    Harker    is    good    at    two    things:    stealing    cars    and    fighting.    One    earns    him    money,    the    other    earns    him    respect    from    the    gang    that    he    calls    family.    

A    police    chase    through    the    city    streets    is    just    another    rite    of    passage    for    Sean    .    .    .    as    is    getting    nicked.    But    a    brutal    event    behind    bars    convinces    him    to    take    charge,    and    turn    his    life    around.    Now    he    must    put    his    street    skills    to    the    ultimate    test:    as    a    soldier    in    the    British    army.    And    the    battlefield    is    London,    where    innocent    people    are    being    targeted    by    a    new    and    terrifying    enemy.        

Nayu's thoughts
Today's guest blog post is without a review, as the book isn't quite for me at the moment but I think I've read Andy's books in the past. He is a well known author, most notably because of his military background, formerly being in the SAS. For those of you who don't me, if I didn't have my permanent health issues I'd have joined the army. I have a fair amount of anime with assassin themes like Noir (to keep this post fairly friendly to those who understandably don't like violence of any kind I'm not showing the characters with guns)
Kirika & Mireille look normal, but are highly skilled assassins

and Gunslinger Girl 
The girls are super cute, one adores teddies, one loves reading, they all are part cyborg, are heavily conditioned and incredibly adept assassins

 and more sedate ones which are more about team spirit than actual warfare like Girls Und Panzer.
While technically a weapon, the girls are never violent to anyone, tankery is a team sport as much as say shooting is an Olympic sport.
 Oh and when I was a teen I adored Tomb Raider games - now I scare easier so can't play them. 
However, searching for a nice picture of her house holds many memories, and maybe I will try playing them again soon....(I know it can be ok if I listen to upbeat music while playing).
Anyway, enough digression of moving onto video games & anime which were vaguely relevant to this post, here's Andy's awesome post about his past and writing!

Me and My Writing by Andy McNab
When I first started writing novels, someone gave me a piece of really good advice, they told me ‘write about what you know’. I had already started doing that without realising, because my first book BRAVO TWO ZERO, was a linear account of an episode in my life, a military patrol that had gone wrong. Easy, it had a starting point and an ending point.

But when I started getting involved in writing fiction, it was much more difficult. I needed to add colour and texture, put authenticity into my writing and add description. I was told to read a book called Touching the Void, about a mountain climbing accident, and the writer did an amazing job of really telling the reader how it felt to be wet, cold, hungry and facing an impossible decision, whether or not to cut the rope holding his friend half way down a crevasse.

That is where ‘write what you know’ came into play. I have always written from experience, and people seem to like it.  I write about what happened to me when I was in the army and with some of my novels I’ve used characters that in part are based on myself (the good parts I always say!).

With my latest novel STREET SOLDIER I took this further and put my character, Sean, in the same circumstances that I had been in at his age. Sean gets mixed up in a gang, starts getting into trouble, ends up in prison and from there is recruited into the army. When I was growing up in Peckham, South East London, I attended 9 schools in 7 years, couldn’t see the point of any of it, got in with a crowd of kids equally convinced that the world was against them, and we started burgling blocks of flats. I thought I was invincible, until the day I was caught by a police dog and his handler… I ended up in juvenile detention, then known as borstal, and from there was offered an early release if I joined the army as a boy soldier. It was once I was in the army training camp that I discovered that at the age of nearly 17, I had the reading age of an 11 year old. I was 17 when I read my first book.  It was part of a series called Janet and John, for primary school kids, but I didn’t care. I can vividly remember the feeling of pride I had when I closed that book for the first time.

I have spent quite a bit of time over the past few years visiting schools, prisons and workplaces, as well as army bases and businesses, talking to them about my experiences and encourage them to start reading and writing. It is my way of remembering how much I owe to the people who inspired and educated me as a young recruit. The army turned my life around by giving me an education and giving me opportunities. But I was one of the lucky ones. In a way, getting caught and ending up in prison was the best thing that could have happened to me as it started me on the journey to bettering myself.
Street Soldier, Andy Mcnab's latest novel is published on 11th August 2016.
                                                      Find out more on Andy's website.

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