Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Meal of Fortune by Philip Brady. Today I’m sharing Phil’s first ever guest post and it’s a very interesting read.
The worlds of arms dealing, espionage and TV cookery collide in this fast moving comedy caper.
Failing celebrity agent Dermot Jack thinks his luck might have turned when a mysterious Russian oligarch hires him to represent his pop star daughter.
Disaffected MI5 officer Anna Preston is just as happy to be handed the chance to resurrect her own career. Little do they know that their paths are about to cross again after seventeen years as they’re thrown together in a desperate attempt to lure a notorious arms dealer into a highly unusual trap.
Hard enough without having to deal with the lecherous celebrity chef trying to save his daytime TV career or the diminutive mafia enforcer who definitely has his own agenda. Then there’s the very impatient loan shark who ‘just wants his money back’.
And Anna’s bosses are hardly playing it straight either. But one thing’s for sure. There’ll be winners and losers when the Meal of Fortune finally stops spinning. Oh, and another thing, Anna and Dermot are absolutely not about to fall in love again. That’s never going to happen, OK?
Minor celebrities, comedy thrillers, a bit of swearing, what’s in a name and what on earth to write in your first ever guest post.
That’s probably quite a lot to cover in one post (let alone a title) so best to crack on and deal with that last point first. My name’s Phil and my first novel The Meal of Fortune was published by Unbound last year. Oh and this is my first ever guest post. I suppose part of the point is to give my book a shameless plug – say how funny, thrilling and fast paced it is without being too obvious, or mentioning all the five star reviews on Amazon (sadly only 23 so far but I’m hoping you can help me out there.)
So then, back to that tricky subject of what to write in a guest post without overdoing the rampant self-publicity. (Thrilling, comic, fast paced remember). Well, The Meal of Fortune is a comedy thriller which explores the theme of media and society’s bizarre and quite frankly embarrassing obsession with celebs. So that doesn’t seem a bad place to start.
I’ve crossed swords with quite a few celebs, minor or otherwise through my day job in PR. Many a struggling PR campaign or product launch has been rescued by drafting in a minor celeb to get the media interested.
What really interests me is how these so called celebrities behave, how they react to their fame and how this causes (or allows) them to act. Pretty badly in a lot of cases. The Meal of Fortune features a truly awful celebrity chef who goes by the stage name of Marcus Diesel. I’ve worked with a lot of celebrity chefs in the past and seen some spectacularly poor behaviour and general obnoxiousness. That was partly the inspiration for The Meal of Fortune. Marcus isn’t based on any single character but definitely displays some all the worst traits I’ve come across. But for the record it isn’t just chefs who I’ve seen behave badly – ex-England cricketers and rugby players, minor TV presenters, reality show stars and weathermen. I could go on. But I guess with all the attention and adulation some of these people receive for doing very little, it’s no surprise they sometimes get a bit above themselves. I don’t really have anything too profound to say about this. As long as the media continue to write about them and a pliable public follows their every move on social media nothing’s likely to change. It does provide a great opportunity for parody though.
Next comedy thrillers. I’ve only really got one question here. Why aren’t there more of them? It just doesn’t seem to be the most popular of genres for readers and therefore authors. Colin Bateman has written some hilarious ones, mainly revolving around his investigative journalist turned private detective, Dan Starkey. Similarly Christopher Brookmyre with his Jack Parlabane books. Then there’s Mick Herron’s Slough House series and Chris Ewan’s Good Thief’s Guides books. Carl Haissen of course for those of who like our comedy thrillers set stateside, Tibor Fischer for his inestimable novel, The Thought Gang and Doulas Lindsay’s darkly comic Barney Thomson series. More recently Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin Trilogy. I could go on, but the point is not for that long. Author’s willing to throw in a comic twist among the murder and mayhem are relatively few and far between; certainly when compared with those churning out police procedurals featuring troubled regional detectives. I just don’t get it. When it comes to film and TV, the action and thriller genres come with much more comic moments built in. Maybe when it comes to reading we just like our crime and thrillers to play it straight down the middle? Hopefully The Meal of Fortune can make a small contribution to changing that.
Next the swearing. There is quite a lot of it in The Meal of Fortune, which has led to a number of comments and put a few people off. There are three reasons for it really. Number one, comic timing; a well-placed bit of swearing can be highly effective. Secondly characterisation. You can get to know a lot about a character by the way they talk, so it helps to build characters. And thirdly, well people actually do quite swear a lot, just listen. So it’s for realism too. It’s good feedback though and probably worth turning it down for the next book.
And finally, what really is in a name. Quite it lot it turns out. The Meal of Fortune takes its name from a fictional TV cookery quiz show that plays a small but significant part in the plot. But the novel was originally called Topski Popski, for perfectly valid reasons I won’t go into. As Topski Popksi I send the book out to dozens of authors and agents, receiving one line rejection letters from those who bothered to get back to me. But once I had changed the title to The Meal of Fortune… Pay dirt. A publishing deal with the second letter I sent. Without the name change I probably wouldn’t be here writing this you now.
Anyway thanks for reading my slightly random series of thoughts and thanks to Dee-Cee for taking part in the blog tour for The Meal of Fortune. If you like the sound of and decide to give it a try I hope you enjoy it. And do let me know what you think either way. Feedback and reviews are really invaluable.
A big thank you to Phil for writing this guest post, I wish him every success with The Meal of Fortune and I can’t wait to get the time to read it.
I was first inspired to write when I read Lord of The Rings as a child. Back then the ambition was to create a whole fantasy world with dragons and sword fights. Sadly George RR Martin seems to have cornered that market, so I now try to comedy thrillers set in the (almost) real world instead. These feature spies, gangsters, vicious (if feckless) criminals, washed-up private detectives and daytime TV presenters. The Meal of Fortune is my first published novel. It is the first in a planned trilogy of comedy thrillers parodying society’s obsession with celebrity.
The follow-up, Tinker Tailor Solider Chef, sees the characters reunited in an attempt to foil a plot by the world’s most secretive intelligence agency (The Belgians) to bring the UK economy to its knees. The final book, centres on a referendum in Wales to decide whether the country should sell itself to an international technology giant for use as a conveniently located tax haven. It will be loosely based on the hilarious 80s film Local Hero.
My main rule in life is to never let tomato ketchup touch any food that is green. I am yet to work out any deep meaning behind this and suspect it is not the soundest of principles by which to live your life. But it’s better than quite a few I’ve come across down the years. Best not to get started on that one though.
I live in London with my fantastic wife and two remarkable children and didn’t vote for BREXIT.