A.J.Quinnell

CHANGES Made 31st January 2009

June 2005 Visit Report Added

This page started life in 1996 and has grown since then, as more information about the author A.J.Quinnell and his writing has come to light. For first time visitors it is best to read this page from the top down, while returning visitors may wish to skip straight to the sections near the end.

Some of the earlier text has been left as originally written, rather than being updated, as this preserves the chronology of the search for A.J.Quinnell.

A.J.Quinnell according to his books is the 'pseudonym of an author who lives on an island in the Mediterranean'. The mercenary hero of many of his books 'Creasy', coincidentally happens to have a little pad (with swimming pool) on the Island of Gozo, near Malta (also in the Mediterranean). Who is A.J.Quinnell that he requires a pseudonym?

The first book I read by Quinnell was 'Blood Ties'. I'd never heard of him, but this book was on offer at Singapore airport at about US$3. So I bought it and to my surprise really enjoyed it. This story as it turns out was quite different to his other books. But since reading it I have bought all his other books (at the full price) and enjoyed every single one.

'Blood Ties' was the story of an Indian man, a native girl, a Caucasian woman and two Caucasian men, one of who is severely racially prejudiced. After some adventures and romances in a small boat and on exotic islands in the Indian Ocean, four of the characters get hitched to their soul mates, while the racist dies, after being cured of his prejudice. Actually it is a lot more exciting and romantic than my précis would suggest. I strongly recommend it.

 

Other Quinnell books include:

 

Man on fire * #

The Mahdi

Snap Shot (UK Title) / The Snap (US Title)

Siege of silence

In the name of the Father

The perfect Kill *

The Blue Ring *

Black horn *

Message from Hell *

 

The titles above with * indicate books involving Creasy the mercenary. All are a good read!

 

"The Trail of Tears" was only published in Japan and is in Japanese language

"The Scalpel" was a manuscript which appears not to have been published

"The Shadow" was a manuscript which appears not to have been published

"Priests of a Dead God" was not completed


THERE HAVE BEEN TWO MOVIE VERSIONS OF MAN ON FIRE

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE MOVIES OF MAN ON FIRE



A J Quinnell Internet Book Store

Books by A. J. Quinnell can usually be found at Amazon. Sometimes when out of stock, second hand copies are available. Click on the cover you are interested in. Other titles not shown below, also sometimes become available, so while at Amazon it is worth searching for them too.

Amazon.com (US)

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Amazon.co.uk (UK)

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Click on an image above for pricing and availability



Who is A. J. Quinnell?

Since creating this page in 1996, I have received many messages from people who like myself have wondered about the real identity of AJQ. I do not propose to disclose a possible real name here, since up to a point I respect the man's privacy. However I believe that revealing a few tantalizing titbits (US English: tidbits), will help keep the mystery interesting.

It seems that much of the information below was picked up by various contributors in the form of bar gossip. As such it could be inaccurate or deliberately misleading, so should not be relied upon.

Many informants confirm that AJQ lived on a Mediterranean Island near Malta and confirm that he was a regular at Gleneagles bar in Mgarr, Gozo. One suggestion was that he no longer lives on Gozo but that when he did, it was in St. Lucia.

Interestingly this tourist page http://www.discovergozo.com.mt/stlucia.htm starts with the statement:-

"The Hamlet of Sta. Lucia surrounded by the Village of Kercem, St Lawrence and just minutes from the Capital of Gozo - Victoria. Sta. Lucia is sometimes forgotten it is so quiet, an ideal place for writers. "

One informant suggested a real name, which if correct would make his initials 'PN'.

He appears to have quite a following in Japan. He seems to have revealed more of himself to the Japanese speaking world than the English speaking world - including photos of himself. What a pity I can't read Japanese.

http://www.shueisha.co.jp/topic/quinnell/profile/

Click on the image above for a listing of AJQ books in Japanese

My thanks to Patrizia Huinder, Arwell Reed and Tanaka Shigeki for their contributions.


Letter from A.J. Quinnell

(Received via email on 4th April 2004)

To: Tony

From: A. J. Quinnell

 

Yesterday afternoon I was taking a dreamless siesta.

My wife came down from her study, woke me up and announced that someone called Tony had put a website on the internet about me.

After cursing the internet and everything about it, I resolved to track down this Tony and castrate him with a very blunt knife.

Then I got up and read the pages. Then read them again; and slowly calmed down.

It seems you have a certain amount of decency. Inspite of knowing quite a lot about me you chose to respect my anonymity. I appreciate that.

Yes; for the last 24 years Gozo has been my base. Some years ago I met and married a Danish lady who is also a writer. Now we split our time between Gozo, Denmark and travelling.

No, I do not live in St. Lucia. That was a one mule village until the mule left about ten years ago. Writers don't need peace. They require inspiration.

Yes; I do occasionally drop into Gleneagles for an orange juice. Yes; a film remake of 'Man on Fire' has been made, directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken. I don't know much about it because filmmakers don't let novel writers get close in case they start bitching about what a mess has been made of their masterpiece!

However, I'm told that it's a great movie although quite different from the book. (What's new?)

The trailer can be seen on the internet (20th Century Fox). It comes out this month in the US and in September in most of the rest of the world.

Yes, I am working on a novel with a working title 'Priests of a dead God'. It's been delayed because I was ill. I'm o.k. now and should finish it by the end of the year. It's a Creasy novel.

Yes, I'm very popular in Japan and I have given interviews there a couple of years ago. The Japanese connect to Creasy. They see him as a 'Ronin' - a disgraced Samurai warrior who spends his time trying to redeem himself by doing good deeds. Yes, it's strange but they love my books. I 'came out' in Japan because many of the readers figured out I lived in Gozo, and descended on Gleneagles.

Rather than have people try to track me down, may be a better way would be if you were to forward emails to me, which I will try to reply to. Please only forward the sensible ones.

Quinnell

 


A.J. Quinnell - Questions and Answers

This section of the web site was set up so that readers could send questions to AJQ. In many cases they got a response. The questions and A. J. Quinnell's answers are posted below.

Due to a serious illness, A. J. Quinnell is unable to to answer further questions as of 20th June 2005. This section will remain as an archive of the interesting information that AJQ revealed.

As the person who maintains this web site, I am always interested to hear peoples impressions of AJQ's works and anecdotes from those who have met him, or known him. If you wish to contact me, my email address is tonym@singnet.com.sg

 

Q. Where did the name A. J. Quinnell come from?

A. Quinnell was a famous rugby player in Wales in the 60's/70's. I once broke his nose. A. J. are the initials of a bartenders son in Malta where I drank while writing 'Man on fire'. Several people in the past 20 years have claimed to be A. J. Quinnell. When I hear about it I send them a message saying: 'No problem. Just do some of the work!'

Q. Is there any plan in the works to get all of your work released in the United States (perhaps on the wave of the second "Man on Fire" movie)?  Also, are there any novels, Creasy-related or not, that have only been released in Japan or other isolated areas (such as "Trail of Tears")?  If so, are there any worldwide release plans? Thanks - Michael Molloy       

A. 'Man on fire' has been re-issued by Morrow in the US to tie in with the film. Also in Britain by Orion and several other countries and translations. I guess the other Creasy books may be re-issued depending on the sales of  'Man on fire'. 'The trail of tears' was only published in Japan. It was very successful there, but other publishers didn't seem to like it. I guess that's the business.

Q. Which other authors in your field would you recommend?
A. In my field I most admire the American writer Charles McCarry whose 2 books 'Tears of autumn' and 'The secret lovers' I regard as masterpieces. Of course they are out of print, but if you can find them I urge you to do so. I also like Len Deightons early books, particularly 'Funeral in Berlin' and 'Horse under water'. I regard his dialogue about the best in the business.
Q. A number of people have asked your opinion of the movie?

A. I haven't seen the film yet (as of beginning May 2004) but understand that Denzel and Dakota Fanning produced great chemistry. 55% of the people who have seen the film are women - which is interesting and good.

Q. Is Creasy based on a real character?
A. Creasy was based on a mixture of characters that I knew in the sixties and seventies in Africa and Vietnam.

Q. Some people have commented that the movie seemed to imply that it was based on a real event, is that impression correct?

A. Yes, the story was based on an actual event in Italy in '75.
Q. Have you considered writing a prequel to Man on Fire - Creasy's early years perhaps? Thanks - Sophia
A. Yes, I will be writing a prequel to 'Man on Fire' It will involve Creasy in Korea and the Vietnam war with the French when he was a young man. Right now I'm working on a film treatment which is another Creasy story.
Q. What do you think of the large amount of security work in the gulf states that is drawing a lot of British and American soldiers out of the Army to go and work there? Can you relate to this? (question posed 2nd June 2004). Thanks - Mick

A. Yes, the security work in Iraq is phenomenal. About 30.000 people so far earning from 5,000 to 30,000 Dollars a month depending on experience risk. Also tax free plus expenses. If I was a bit younger I might be heading that way myself. The risk is relatively low with losses running at around 4-5 a month. One Iraqi business man employs & rents out 8000 security guys. He also buys leases hotels and then rents them to contracting companies at great profit. I'm not surprised that many soldiers are opting out and taking the bones of war. Anyway, without those guys the Americans would have to send in another 50,000 troops; and they are stretched very thin.

Q. In 'the perfect kill'  is a character named Rambahadur Rai, a 60 year old gurkha topshot marksman. I'd like to know if this man really lives/lived or if the book character is modeled after one or more (famous) marksmen (and, if yes, who are these marksmen ?). Thanks - Rob - Netherlands
A. Yes, Rambahadur Rai is a real person. He served with the 2/10th Gurkha batallion in the then Malaya against the communist insurgents circa 1950 and later against the Indonesian Sulawesi Division in North Borneo circa 1958-61. He was much decorated and is a legend in the British Gurkha Brigade. He retired to his village in Nepal and, if he is still alive, would be in his mid/late eighties. He looked, talked and comported himself, as I described.
Q. I realize Mr. Quinnell would like to remain anonymous, but could you ask him to describe his background prior to becoming an author? Has he had prior military service? Or was he previously employed by a three-lettered agency? His novels seem to speak with authority, but it would be interesting to know if his novels come from his own personal experience or just stories that he's heard from someone he knows. Jason

A. I can only tell you that I spent many early years in sub-Saharan Africa, and later about twenty years in the Far East. My stories are based on my own experiences - and from other sources. There are many facts in them, but of course they are all fiction.

Q. I assumed that AJQ was an American writer, based on Creasy being an ex US marine but I always felt his writing style was more 'British' - would he be prepared to reveal his background/nationality? - Dave Goldfinch - Western Australia.
A. I was born in England but spent most of my life in a variety of other countries. I know it sounds corny but I feel more like a global kind of citizen. Borders are for crossing!
Q. I love all the books but some have special resonance for me; In the name of the Father especially because I was educated by Jesuit priests and also because I read the obituary in the Times last year about a priest known as 'The Bacon Priest' who was always getting into trouble - when you discover facts like that you can only admire the author's ability to meet people like that and construct stories accordingly. Creasy's stories are fascinating - I read Simon Murray's book about being an Englishman in the Foreign Legion as a para during the time of the OAS so I guess my question is - 'How much of his story is Creasy based on?' Finally, Mr. Quinnell, Desmond Bagley and Alistair MacLean had or still have few peers but your stories are of equal stature. Please make more knowledge of when your books are coming out  available for loyal fans such as myself who eagerly await your latest tome. Thanks - Edward Darroch

A. Thanks for your e-mail and kind words. They are encouraging. I did not know that the 'Bacon Priest' had passed on. I don't read obituaries; in case I come across my own! Yes, he was a great character and, in a way, may have felt out of place once the wall came down. However he must have been a very old man. He was already well up in years when I researched him 16 years ago.
I met Simon Murray many years ago in the Far East; an engaging and very controlled and focused man. But he bears no resemblance to Creasy. You may see from other e-mails on the web that I'm working on a new Creasy novel. no date for publication yet but certainly next year.

Q. One of the supporting characters in ‘Blood Ties’ was Guy Savy, of Bird Island in the Seychelles.  When I was at high school in Auckland, New Zealand, in the 1970s, my French teacher was an old Frenchman named Guy Savy, who often talked about Bird Island in the Seychelles.  As I recall, he lived there during the Second World War and at the time I knew him his son had taken over the island and turned it into a resort.  I don’t remember his son’s name, or his wife’s, so I don’t know whether the Guy Savy in the novel is meant to be père or fils.  At least one of the other teachers at school visited Bird Island during my time there, so it certainly wasn’t an old man’s fantasy. As you can imagine, I was thrilled beyond words to find my old French teacher (or possible his son) portrayed in a novel.  The Guy Savy I knew was a wonderful old man, and one of the few truly memorable teachers I have known.  I have no reason for asking for information beyond simple curiosity, but I would love to know how M. Savy became a character in ‘Blood Ties’. Thanks - Grant Shirreffs
A. Yes, your old teacher was the father of Guy Savy of Blood Ties. A long time ago Guy stayed with me in Hong Kong on his way to New Zeeland to get his fathers permission to build a nature reserve on the island. I first sailed to Bird Island from Mahé a few years before. It's very small and in those days inhabited by two million sooty terns; Guy and his wife, Marie France,; and an American bartender dressed in bermuda shorts, a Stetson; and a holstered Colt 45 which he used to shoot any coconut rats that ventured into the bar. Guy is still there, a friend of mine visited recently. If you ever get the chance, go. Especially when the sooty terns return from Australia to lay their eggs. (I think about Oct./Nov.) If you get there give Guy my regards. I would like to have met his father, your teacher, who had an interesting history of his own. In fact the Savy family are very extensive. They are descendants of the old French 'Grand Blanc' families who first colonised the islands. I was at school in East Africa with one of them; Marcus. His grandfather Harry Savy was the scion of the family and reputedly had eighty children on about ten of the islands. He used to tell me that it was the only form of entertainment! Hence the wonderfully mixed ethnic population of the islands today.
Q. I like a lot your book , I think it is a real master piece,  and I like a lot the movie too, specially because it was done in my city, Mexico city, and I would love to hear your description or opinion about the feelings between Creasy and the girl. Thank you a lot. Thanks - Orlando - Mexico
A. Many thanks for your kind words. The relationship between the girl and Creasy is vital to the story. First of all it is the reason for Creasy's rehabilitation from a drink-sodden ex mercenary to his real deep down character. Secondly the depth of feeling between the two, justifies the extent of the violence that follows. I think that it worked very well in the film. It's interesting that 'Man on fire' was the first major Hollywood Movie to be made in Mexico City. Let's hope more follow!
Q. I was just curious about the name Creasy and where he is from in New Jersey - what made you choose that name and why did you make him from New Jersey? Thanks - Vivian
A. Dear Vivian. I'm a bit confused. From which book did you get the info that Creasy came from New Jersey? I think the only mention I make about his youth had him coming from Tennessee, but I may be wrong. Please let me know. He is, of course, a fictional character.
Q. I got that from the Man On Fire TV movie.  When he was "talking/smacking around" the American man involved in the kidnappings.  It was the scene over the Rave Club. Thanks again - Vivian
A. Dear Vivian - Thanks for following up. It has been a long time since I wrote it, but unless I am mistaken, the reference to New Jersey, only appeared in the movie with Denzel. I believe in the scene, that the American you are referring to, mentions that he is from New Jersey and that Creasy says he it too. Maybe he was hoping that such an apparent bond would result in information being more forthcoming, but I'm not sure since I don't recall writing that bit.
Q. Could you describe more of the event that led you to write this book MAN ON FIRE. I would love to hear about the true story, or find some information on it. I looked back to Italian papers to see if I could find anything in 1975 and I couldn't. By the way I love the story and the movie. Your work is a true WORK OF ART. Thanks - Ogden
A. Thanks for your kind words. There was no specific event that led me to write 'Man on fire'. Two things stuck in my mind. Sometime in the sixties the eldest son of a rich Singaporean business man was kidnapped by a triad gang. The man had eleven children. He refused to pay the ransom and his son was murdered. His refusal meant that his other children would never be targets. The will to make that sacrifice fascinated me. Second: The kidnapping of John Paul Getty's son by the Mafia in Rome. When Getty hesitated they cut of the boys ear and sent it to him. To me the kidnapping of an innocent third party is totally abhorrent. I guess the writing of 'Man on fire' expressed those feelings.
Q. My wife and I just watched the Tony Scott remake of "Man on Fire" last night and were very moved by the "redemption" theme (as well as the acting, writing, cinematography, etc.).  At the end of this version was an "obituary" note re: Creasy (1956-2003) as if he were a real historical person.  Is this true?  If so, how can this be if the original novel was written in 1980???  And the events??? Regards - Frank X
A. Good question. Someone told me about the 'obituary' several weeks ago. I asked my agent to investigate. No answer yet. I will ask again, this time more forcibly, and let you know the answer. It may be some internal goings on at 20th Century Fox. Creasy is a totally fictional character.
Q. Hi AJQ. Have you had a chance to see the movie yet? - Tony (asked September 04)
A. The film is not here until mid November, so I saw it on DVD on a big screen. I liked it. The mood was right. They also used a lot of my dialogue which I liked.
Q. I only have one simple question - Has AJQ written anything under another name?  I love his style and if he has written under another name I would like to buy a copy of it too. Thanks - Illana Halliday
A. I only write under the name A.J. Quinnell. Thanks for your kindness.
Q. I was wondering how you felt about the movie ending as opposed to the book ending.  I really enjoyed the movie,  but the book seems to place MORE emphasis on his salvation with Pita dying and him bringing justice (for lack of a better word) to those who had a part in the kidnapping.  I want you to know that I immensely enjoyed the book.  I actually picked it up when I was in Trieste Italy in 1992.  I was in the USN and doing some shore patrol duty.  Can't wait to read the next Creasy novel.  Thanks - Michael Deck
A. Thanks your e-mail. Of course the ending of the film was designed for Hollywood. On the whole I enjoyed the film. Also they used a lot of my dialogue. Yes, the book was steeped in the single minded desire for vengeance and justice. It also had the element of 'redemption through ordeal' as Creasy had to go through the pain of getting fit. On the whole I was satisfied with the film.
Q. I am also a fan of yours.  I read in the name of the father and was fascinated.  At the time of the printing, there was a rumor that the catholic church was trying to find out who you were so they could sue.  Was there any truth to that story? Thanks for your work. Bill Arndt
A. Yes, when I wrote 'In the name of the Father' I used several real names, including Archbishop Marcinkus who was then head of the Vatican bank. I changed the names for publication in Britain and most translated editions; but in America my publishers kept the name, citing the guarantee of freedom of speech under the constitution. Marcinkus immediately sued for one million dollars. The suit was dropped when my U.S. publishers agreed to change the name for future editions. At that time the Vatican bank was involved with Banco Ambrosiano, which itself was involved with the Italian P2 Masonic Lodge and also, apparently, the Mafia. The head of Banco Ambrosiano was found hanged from Greyfriars Bridge in London. At the time I heard rumours that certain 'people' were looking for me. We never met.
Q. Hi there. First of all I would just like to say how great this website is that you have created dedicated to A.J. The e-mail postings espicially provided a lot of relevant information. My question for Mr A.J. Quinnell follows "This is just a follow up to a posting I read on Tony's website concerning the "obituary" note of Creasy in the new Man on Fire film. I was just wondering if you ever recieved a response to your second request to 20th Century Fox to determine where this came from. Thank you in advance and great job with Man on Fire. The story was very deep and relevant. Thanks." - Michael Estrela
A. No, I still don't have a reply from Fox about the obituary note. Maybe a few of you guys could e-mail them & who knows? You might get an answer. Thanks for your kind words.
Q. Could you give me your thoughts on how you selected the name "Creasy"? It is our family name and derives from the city of Crecy in Lombardy France. The family came over to England with William the Conqueror and settled in Berkshire. The family name then came to Henrico County, Virginia prior to 1678.  It may be interesting to note that there is one Creasy on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC. On a personal note, my brother was also a Vietnam era Marine and has many of the qualities of your character. Thanks - Bob Creasy
A. Hi Creasy! I picked up the name from a friend, an ex pilot with the Royal Navy fleet  air arm. He became a training captain with a regional airline. I once flew into Seoul airport in S. Korea with him in the early sixties in a Convair 880. I was in the jump seat behind the pilots. It was nighttime and there were squalls and flashes of lightning. In those days you had to stick exactly to your flight path or risk being shot down by S. Korean AA (The border was just 60 miles away). Creasy was training a first officer who had control. At the last minute he panicked. Creasy shouted: 'I have control!'. The first officers hands froze and would not let go. Creasy hit him in the face with the back of his hand, and he released the stick. Seconds later the landing lights were flashing by. As we taxied to the terminal, Creasy turned to look at what must have been my very white face. He grinned and said: 'Takes me back to the old days landing on a postage stamp called a carrier.' So when I started to write many years later his name sprang to mind. Yes, I was told there was a Creasy on the V.M. wall. - No connection.
Q. Hello, I am currently reading Man on Fire and I love it. I would really like to read more of your works, but I am having trouble tracking some of  them down, but I'll find them eventually. My question is this: is there a particular order in which we should read your Creasy related novels? I mean, does one come before another, or what? Thank you for your time. Man on Fire is awesome!!!   Chris Shamblin.
A. Thanks for your email. After 'Man on fire' the sequel is: 'The Perfect Kill', 'The Blue Ring', 'Black Horn' and 'Message from hell'. Hope you enjoy them.
Q. Could you please tell me if the book "The Scalpel"  was ever published in  Britain.   Thank you. LindRosal
A. Your question puzzles me. I wrote a manuscript many years ago which I titled 'Scalpel'. As far as I know it was never published anywhere. If you have seen it, please let me know.
Q. Having been raised Catholic I picked up IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER somewhere and got hooked.  Went on a hunt. . .all over the world before I was able to collected the rest of your novels. My favorite.  The MAHDI.  So my question is do you think any "intelligence agency" is smart enough to ever pull of anything near like what you did in the MAHDI or do you feel todays bureaucracies screw up the works too much? Del Tinsley, Nashville TN
A. Very interesting question. Made me think. No. I don't believe that intelligence agencies these days could mount such an operation. In modern intelligence the emphasis is on technology. In many ways the N.S.A. has become more important than the C.I.A. 20 years ago human intelligence (humint) was paramount. Perhaps after 9/11 the pendulum has begun to swing back to the agent on the ground. I hope so.
Q. I was curious what inspired an ex-merc / spec-op man to begin a writing career and have you ever considered writing a real bio??  I've read books from people such a Richard Marchinko (Rogue Warrior) and found them to be both full of insight and interest (real life better than fiction). Thanks for the good reading! Jonathan Bauer
A. No, I was never a merc/spec.op man, but over the years I met a few. - Keep guessing! Thanks for your kind words.
Q. Why are "Message from Hell" & "Black Horn" nearly impossible to find?  The prices when I do an Addall search are crazy.  A copy of Message from Hell went for $46 on ebay a few days ago. Were the production runs so very small or what? Jim Fincher
A. Thanks for your e-mail. I cannot answer your question. Publishers decide what they publish and reprint. I have never been a 'volume' author like Tom Clancy et al. My books have been published in over 30 languages and I'm proud of that. My American publisher is the morrow division of Harper Collins. The editor is Michael Shohl. Maybe you should direct your question to him. The e-mail address is michael.shohl@harpercollins.com
Q. I have just come across your Quinnell web site and found it engrossing reading. The first of Quinnell's books that I read was 'The Perfect Kill' which I thought was one of the most enjoyable reads I had ever experienced. As a result I tracked down 'Man on Fire' and many others and gave them all high ratings. Being an Australian, I was particularly impressed by his characterisations of the Australians in his novels. They were so spot-on I just wondered where he obtained the skills to portray them so wonderfully. I may be biased, but I judge ALL other books by the standards that Quinnell has set.   My one criicism relates to the death of Michael. Oh, why oh why, did he have to be killed off? His relationship with Creasy was beautifully drawn and when he died, I felt that a part of me had died as well.    Many thanks again for your web site and please pass on my heartfelt thanks to AJQ as well. Bill Magill, Tasmania, Australia
A. Thanks for your appreciation of my work.Yes, the Michael question! So many people have asked me why he had to die. The simple answer is that it was part of the story. I work during the night. The stories come out and in a way develop a life of their own. Yes, it's fiction; but in my head it becomes real. It happens that way. In life there are tragedies. People are born; succeed or fail; suffer or prosper. As I write this hundreds, even thousands are dying unnecessarily. In Darfour, the Congo, Iraq. Many die violently; most are mourned. I mourned for Michael. It seems many others did as well. Bill, part of you did not die. You were deeply saddened. I make no apologies; that's how it happened. I suppose I should take your distress as a compliment to my writing. I do not. Like you I also mourn. That's the bond that can exist between a writer and a reader. I cannot resurrect Michael but part of the story that I'm working on now will, in a way, balance out the episode in Black Horn.
Q. I just want to find out from Mr Quinnell his Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) connections. Mr Quinnell seems to have some bits of knowledge on the Rhodesian bush war. Did he serve in the infamous Sellous Scouts? Zhean
A. No, I was never a Selous scout. Neither were most people who claim to have been! I had family in S. Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and over the years visited them. I was in favour of independence for all African countries; but to paraphrase Mandela: 'The curse of Africa is ageing leaders who refuse to step down!' My favorite leader was Tanzania's Julius Nyerere (known as 'M'walimu - The Teacher). Not only because he translated Shakespeare into Swahili but also the way he handled the tribal problems brought about by the colonialists drawing straight lines on maps. 
Q. Even though my wife and myself like very different types of books, we both agree that Creasy is the finest character ever created!,  and after five years there is still an ongoing arguement over who discovered your books first.  Two questions really, is the Blue Ring based on real events, and any update regarding the new Creasy novel.   Thanks - IAN and TRACY
A. Thanks for your e-mail. 'The Blue Ring' was not based on a particular  episode. But the human trafficking continues and, in the last decade, seems to have become worse. The next Creasy book should be out in the middle of the year.
Q. I went on a Caribbean windjammer cruise called the Polynesian Nov. 10-16, 1985.  I met a man named Max who said he was a writer named A.J. Quinnell.  Now I'm wondering if it really was A.J. Quinnell?   I have a photo of Max, he was in his 30's, had dark curly hair and stood about 5 '8".  He was single at the time.  We picked up the cruise in St. Martin and had a fun week sailing around the Caribbean.   Would you mind forwarding this to him for confirmation? (name supplied).
A. Sorry, your Max was an imposter. I have never been on a Caribbean Cruise or even in the area. It's not the first time. People often pretend to be anonymous writers. I guess he gave you a book and signed it and hinted he was a 'soldier of fortune'. Anyway: remember the good times!
Q. Hello, I greatly enjoy the two Creasy books that I have been able to find.  You have a great way of immersing your readers with your characters. There have been a great deal of books and movies that deal with a loss, and the justice that should have served, but was not for whatever reason.  But your books do it with a much better way of showing the strength and the growth in the character that most times are missed.  And there seems to be such a realism to the way you some of the characters you write and the way they deal with the loss.  The emotions they feel.  I have always been fascinated by books and movies about a loss, and the justice being given by the ones who have been hurt inadvertently.  I have suffered some personal losses and when justice is not served, the hatred and need for justice that can form in a person can be quite difficult.  I have had many people criticize this way of thinking.  I guess my question is: Have you ever had anyone or groups of people protest any of your books because of this.  Or run into problems with your books because of some of the points they hit on? And if so, how have you dealt with it? Thanks, Matthew
A. Thanks your e-mail  and encouraging words. I had only one review from a paper in Dallas Texas vehemently criticising my views on justice. Just one, that's all. My point of view is clear. If justice cannot be done by society then an individual has the right to his or her own justice. Some say that 'vengeance belongs to God'. Maybe. And maybe God dispenses it through the people who have been hurt.
Q. My name is Ruud Visser, and I am a Quinnell-fan from the town of Schiedam, in the Netherlands. I've read most, if not all of Mr. Quinnell's novels, and am particularly fond of the ones focussing on a certain mercenary. I read the Creasy books at least once a year, and the great detail and characterisations make me come back to them time after time. I even asked friends who went on holiday to Malta to check if there really is a Gleneagles on Gozo (which there is, by the way. They brought me a photo). I frequent these pages, and the questions and answers that I find there give me some real insight in the man and his work. I wonder if the following question is worthy of being forwarded to The Man himself? There are two actors that have given Creasy a face: Scott Glenn and Denzel Washington. Strangely enough, on the cover of the first Dutch edition of "Man on Fire" (translated as "Creasy's wraak", meaning "Creasy's revenge") the illustrator obviously used the late actor Lee Marvin as the template for the book's main character. An interesting choice, since he is know for quite a few performance's as a very hard and tough man. I saw the Scott Glenn version before I ever read the book, and for me whenever I read a Creasy-novel, his face is when I visualise Creasy. I already was a fan of him (that's why I ended up seeing the film in the first place), and I think he was well cast, and close to the descriptions of Creasy in the books (heh eh, and according to my wife, Denzel is too handsome to be Creasy). My question for Mr. Quinnell is this: Was the way he described Creasy based on an actor, and if not, who would he cast if some producer would finally do the book justice by filming it the way the author wrote it? Thanks - Ruud - Netherlands
A. Many thanks for your e-mail and interesting question. In fact, while writing the book I met a wonderfully drunk Robert Mitchum on a plane between Bombay and Hong Kong. I had just seen him in the film 'The Sundowners' which proved he could really act when he wanted to. So I had him in mind. However, Lee Marvin would have been also excellent. But of course these things are not in the hands of the writers. I thought that Denzel Washington did a good job, and the relationship between him and Dakota Fanning was quite moving. Of course every writer would like the film exactly as his book, but then: Hollywood is Hollywood. By the way, Holland is one of my favorite countries.
Q. I loved Man on Fire and am currently trying to buy all your books since most of them are out of print here in the US. I'm interested in knowing the tools you use to write. Is it just old fashioned pencil and paper ? Ballpen or fountain pen ? If you do what brand do you use ? Do you use a typewriter or computer ? As a screenwriter and filmmaker I sometimes like to know the tools used by writers I admire. Thanks - Merwan
A. Thanks for your e-mail. To answer your question I write with a felt tipped pen and paper. The brand I like best, if I can find is, is 'Tempo Bureau'.
Q. I've read a bunch of the other books (ones I could find anyway) Man on Fire, Siege of Silence, In the Name of The Father, Message From Hell, I have The Mahdi, and The Blue Ring, I'm about to read Blood Ties and sometime over the weekend going to read the short story that's posted. I've loved EVERYTHING I've read so far, and just know that the ones I haven't read yet are going to be awesome too !!!
I was just wondering when on the site it says that the new book "Priests of a dead God" is supposed to be realeased in mid 2003 or as early 2004..... Whatever happened to that project? Will it ever be released? AND..... Do you see a any future characters from Canada????? It seems that most of the guys in your stories are from the states, various parts of Europe and all parts of the world...... what about Canada? We have a military too (although most people forget about that)  Thanks !!! Mike from Canada
A. Thanks for your e-mail and encouraging words. 'Priests of a Dead' God should be out later in the year. It's been delayed because I had health problems. The mail character in Blood Ties is a Canadian, based on a guy I used to know in the eighties. Yes, I know Canada has a military and one to be proud of.
Q. A.J. Quinnell is by far my favorite author, so I was very pleased to be able to read the short story Gladiator on the Net. Mr. Quinnell, please write more! Your books are too scarce, in more ways than one. Also, thanks to your recommendations on works of other authors, as listed at this site. I liked your Deighton picks much better than those chosen on my own, and was really quite taken with McCarry’s The Secret Lovers. Do you have any more reading suggestions? Perhaps you’re read Alan Furst? I greatly enjoyed Night Soldier and his five other books. Finally, a Creasy question: Was he around horses a lot in his youth? (My question is based on his knowledge of the critters as demonstrated in Gladiator, Kentucky roots, plus that peculiar cowboy-like walk which suggests bowed legs.) - Thanks - Ron from California
A. Thanks for your kind e-mail. I have not yet read anything by Alan Furst, but I will keep my eyes open for his books. As to your question: Yes, Creasy was around horses a lot in his youth and is very much in tune with animals and the wild.
Q. I watched the movie Man on Fire tonight and truly found it inspiring...After reading some of your answers to fans on this site, it occurred that a very distant friend of mine may share space in your past. I'm not sure if you know Mr. Mann and if you do then you will know his recent problems in EG and Zim!!! Those "old" Africans leaders do not like having their authority challenged. I by the way live in Dallas, Texas!!!  And I know of the paper your speak in an earlier posting!!! Mr. Mann will be looking for someone to tell his tale...you should look him up he's easy to find!!! Thanks - Man from Dallas
A. Thanks for your e-mail. I never ran into Mr. Mann, but he does seem to have been careless tying in with Sir M.T. and then heading for a mission with a stopover in Harare! I can't see Denard or J.J. Peters being so foolish. Anyway, it was good to hear from you. Best wishes to you and Dallas.
Q. just a note to tell you how much i have enjoyed your books...i discovered them simply by spotting your name in the preview to man on fire and began my search...i have read most of them now, though i am having a hard time getting ahold of horn and hell but i will stick with it...as a 34 year english teacher i find them to be evocative, emotive and engrossing...the relationships that are constructed between characters...especially creasy and the little girl, creasy and his adopted son, creasy and his wife, creasy and his closest friend...are
dear and endearing all at the same time...i find that the toughness of the writing becomes the tool for the confidence the reader puts in the characters and the fact that you are true to each of the characters throughout the narrative is a joy to someone who has studied literature forever...i find myself overwhelmed at times in your books by emotions i never thought this type of story would touch...and i find too that i read your books very slowly, not wanting to get to the end and have to say goodbye...though creasy is certainly your most fascinating creation, i was also taken by the narrative style of siege and the way in which the story mounts as it swirls all around the reader...i certainly hope there are more to come because yours is a voice of style and substance in a genre that oftentimes has neither...i think of you as donald hamilton with a soul and i am very pleased to recommend your books constantly to all those who ask...as a lifetime reader and a career educator in the study of language and writing, it is always a pleasure to find someone who handles the pen as well as you, for it is this contribution to the published word that moves us all forward as readers...perhaps this sounds much too overblown, but i am indeed serious and thankful for having discovered your work... Patrick Crowe
A. Towards the end of your note you mentioned 'handling a pen'. In fact I write my books with pen & paper. It is true that writing is a lonely business and so it is very significant and encouraging to read the words of someone like yourself; and I know exactly what kind of person you are because an intelligent reader takes a journey with the author and both end up understanding each other. 'Horn' contains a shock which elicited a surprisingly strong reaction from many readers. I would be interested to know your reaction when you have read it. Many, many  thanks for your words. They will stay with me.

 

A. J. Quinnell has written a short story which can be downloaded and read for free

The author has requested that those who enjoy the story make a donation to the Vhutshilo Mountain School charity, which he supports. The story is in Adobe .pdf format. If you don't already have a reader for this type of file, you can download one from HERE

Please click the following link to access the short story (you will need to use the "Back" button to return here):-

 Vhutshilo Mountain School

 

In June 2005 I had the good fortune to visit A.J.Quinnell on the island of Gozo. Click HERE to read the trip report.

 

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