Stuart Urban's THE SECRET kicks off on ITV to stunning reviews

The first episode of Stuart Urban's THE SECRET, a four-part mini-series starring James Nesbitt and Genevieve O'Reilly,  premiered on ITV1 on Friday 29th April to glowing reviews.

THE SECRET tells the true story of two Christian adulterers in Northern Ireland, who murder their spouses by faking a double suicide plot worthy of Hitchcock. They get away with it, but fate and conscience intervene 18 years later. 

Here are some of the reviews: 

“The real achievement of Stuart Urban’s superb script was in capturing the weird balance of religious devotion and sexual obsession that seemed to normalise the relationship in Howell and Buchanan’s minds…’The Secret’ was masterly, an excellent reason to say in on Friday nights to come”. **** Gerard O’Donovan. THE TELEGRAPH

“Makes for spellbinding, haunting and very uncomfortable telly….Powerful drama…uniquely watchable”. Kevin O'Sullivan. THE SUN

“Startling….resembles a darkly comic Ulster version of ‘The Affair’, should give…ITV a hit for viewers who find ‘The Durrells’ too twee. Compelling …confirms (N Ireland) as a powerhouse of TV drama.”  Mark Lawson. THE GUARDIAN

“I can’t remember a better portrayal of suburban charm hiding suburban evil…it’s hard to create suspense when you already know the ending. But in this case..it was still a nailbiter” Matt Rudd. THE SUNDAY TIMES

"This terrific dramatisation of a true story is perfectly paced to show how Howell's undeniable charm let him convince himself that God felt it would be truly for the best if he, Howell, was happy, even when that meant murdering his pregnant wife. There was a dreadful menace in seeing Nesbitt switch so readily from pink-faced beaming Baptist - genuinely transported, raptured, in swaying song - to keen amateur killer. Truly chilling." Euan Ferguson. THE OBSERVER

“Told with passion and power..the sort of tale we’ve seen many times before, yet what made ‘The Secret’ so interesting was the way Stuart Urban’s smart script dealt with it…Urban sensitively depicted a close-knit community where religion was central” Sarah Hughes. THE I

The second episode of THE SECRET will be on ITV1 at 9pm Friday 6th May. 

Visit Stuart Urban's website here

 

 

 

THE LAST PILOT selected to be part of brave new reads 2016

We are thrilled to announce that THE LAST PILOT has been selected to be part of Brave New Reads 2016, a unique reading programme taking place in libraries and bookshops across East Anglia. Anneliese Mackintosh's ANY OTHER MOUTH was shortlisted last year, among other wonderful books! Chosen by readers, for readers, from a longlist of over 120 books, the six Brave New Reads titles come highly recommended and help to inspire a new kind of reading. Find out more at www.bravenewreads.org.uk.   

THE LAST PILOT was published in July 2015 both in the UK (Myriad Books) and in the US (Picador), assembling an enthusiastic following with a rave review in The Washington Post, who say ‘the effect is supercharged Hemingway at 70,000 feet’; People magazine call it ‘ingeniously plotted, deftly written and engrossing,’ and Jane Ciabattari from BBC Culture says ‘Johncock is superb at crafting suspenseful scenes’. Mail on Sunday also praised THE LAST PILOT, ‘a remarkably accomplished debut'. It has been selected as Amazon’s Best Book of July 2015, shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards 2015, chosen as a Barnes & Noble’s 2015 Discover Great New Writers Pick and one of SJ Watson’s Best Summer Reads for The Independent. There's a full list of his many and incredible reviews on Ben's blog. The paperback will be published in the US on 3rd May 2016.

Early October, 1947, Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, flying flimsy aircraft high above the Mojave desert. When a terrible tragedy befalls his young family, Harrison's life grinds to a halt - so when he's offered a ticket to the moon, he takes it, and joins NASA's new training programme. Set against the backdrop of one of the most emotionally-charged periods in modern history, THE LAST PILOT is a mesmerising story of loss and finding courage in the face of it.

Benjamin Johncock was born in England in 1978. His short stories have been published by The Fiction Desk and The Junket. He is the recipient of an Arts Council England grant and the American Literary Merit Award, and is a winner of Comma Press's National Short Story Day competition. He also writes for the Guardian. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, his daughter, and his son.

Praise for THE LAST PILOT

‘The dense layering of real events, seriously technical language and sustained US vernacular makes for a big, muscular novel, but this is tenderly undercut by the quite different theme of a marriage and a family under unbearable stress... A cowboy in a silver suit he may be, but Jim Harrison’s descent into hell is convincing and moving.’ – Jane Housham, Guardian

‘Jim’s story is fascinating, and the author writes with a strong ear for dialogue, which rattles the pages with intensity. A marvellous, emotionally powerful novel.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Benjamin Johncock has written one of the most American novels of the year … With remarkable accuracy, capturing the emotional weight of a time in history … The story is well paced and chock full of an array of inspirational characters … exuberant life beaming from the gorgeous prose. Johncock follows in the footsteps of the impressive list of writers that have been capable of creating lifelike dialogue by eliminating quotation marks and a large amount of tags in what is often pages of back forth between its characters. … reminiscent of the great Cormac McCarthy … The exposition is packed with detail, word choices and sentence structures that add up to equal a distinct and unique new voice in fiction … shows the careful and precise guidance of the authorial voice that can be trusted fully and wholeheartedly. Johncock writes paragraphs that are often only seen by master craftsman with many books already to their name … This debut novel is undoubtedly one of the most authentic pieces of fiction set in America in years.’ – Steven Petite, The Huffington Post

Visit Benjamin’s website and follow him on Twitter.

THE LAST PILOT shortlisted for The Authors Club Best First Novel Award

Benjamin Johncock’s compelling debut THE LAST PILOT has been shortlisted for The Authors Club Best First Novel Award. The prize is for the debut novel of a British, Irish or UK-based author, first published in the UK. This is the 62nd year of the prize. Other shortlisted titles include THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET by Natasha Pulley and THE GOOD SON by Paul McVeigh.

 THE LAST PILOT was published in July 2015 both in the UK (Myriad Books) and in the US (Picador), assembling an enthusiastic following with a rave review in The Washington Post, who say ‘the effect is supercharged Hemingway at 70,000 feet’; People magazine call it ‘ingeniously plotted, deftly written and engrossing,’ and Jane Ciabattari from BBC Culture says ‘Johncock is superb at crafting suspenseful scenes’. Mail on Sunday also praised THE LAST PILOT, ‘a remarkably accomplished debut'. It has been selected as Amazon’s Best Book of July 2015, shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards 2015, chosen as a Barnes & Noble’s 2015 Discover Great New Writers Pick and one of SJ Watson’s Best Summer Reads for The Independent. There's a full list of his many and incredible reviews on Ben's blog. The paperback will be published in the US on 3rd May 2016.

Early October, 1947, Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, flying flimsy aircraft high above the Mojave desert. When a terrible tragedy befalls his young family, Harrison's life grinds to a halt - so when he's offered a ticket to the moon, he takes it, and joins NASA's new training programme. Set against the backdrop of one of the most emotionally-charged periods in modern history, THE LAST PILOT is a mesmerising story of loss and finding courage in the face of it.

Benjamin Johncock was born in England in 1978. His short stories have been published by The Fiction Desk and The Junket. He is the recipient of an Arts Council England grant and the American Literary Merit Award, and is a winner of Comma Press's National Short Story Day competition. He also writes for the Guardian. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, his daughter, and his son.

Praise for THE LAST PILOT

‘The dense layering of real events, seriously technical language and sustained US vernacular makes for a big, muscular novel, but this is tenderly undercut by the quite different theme of a marriage and a family under unbearable stress... A cowboy in a silver suit he may be, but Jim Harrison’s descent into hell is convincing and moving.’ – Jane Housham, Guardian

‘Jim’s story is fascinating, and the author writes with a strong ear for dialogue, which rattles the pages with intensity. A marvellous, emotionally powerful novel.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Benjamin Johncock has written one of the most American novels of the year … With remarkable accuracy, capturing the emotional weight of a time in history … The story is well paced and chock full of an array of inspirational characters … exuberant life beaming from the gorgeous prose. Johncock follows in the footsteps of the impressive list of writers that have been capable of creating lifelike dialogue by eliminating quotation marks and a large amount of tags in what is often pages of back forth between its characters. … reminiscent of the great Cormac McCarthy … The exposition is packed with detail, word choices and sentence structures that add up to equal a distinct and unique new voice in fiction … shows the careful and precise guidance of the authorial voice that can be trusted fully and wholeheartedly. Johncock writes paragraphs that are often only seen by master craftsman with many books already to their name … This debut novel is undoubtedly one of the most authentic pieces of fiction set in America in years.’ – Steven Petite, The Huffington Post

Visit Benjamin’s website and follow him on Twitter.

THE LAST PILOT longlisted for The Authors Club Best First Novel Award

Benjamin Johncock’s compelling debut THE LAST PILOT has been longlisted for The Authors Club Best First Novel Award. The prize is for the debut novel of a British, Irish or UK-based author, first published in the UK.  This is the 62nd year of the prize. Other longlisted titles include THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET by Natasha Pulley, THE LONEY by Andrew Hurley and THE GOOD SON by Paul McVeigh.

 THE LAST PILOT was published in July 2015 both in the UK (Myriad Books) and in the US (Picador), assembling an enthusiastic following with a rave review in The Washington Post, who say ‘the effect is supercharged Hemingway at 70,000 feet’; People magazine call it ‘ingeniously plotted, deftly written and engrossing,’ and Jane Ciabattari from BBC Culture says ‘Johncock is superb at crafting suspenseful scenes’. Mail on Sunday also praised THE LAST PILOT, ‘a remarkably accomplished debut'. It has been selected as Amazon’s Best Book of July 2015, shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards 2015, chosen as a Barnes & Noble’s 2015 Discover Great New Writers Pick and one of SJ Watson’s Best Summer Reads for The Independent. There's a full list of his many and incredible reviews on Ben's blog. The paperback will be published in the US on 3rd May 2016.

Early October, 1947, Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, flying flimsy aircraft high above the Mojave desert. When a terrible tragedy befalls his young family, Harrison's life grinds to a halt - so when he's offered a ticket to the moon, he takes it, and joins NASA's new training programme. Set against the backdrop of one of the most emotionally-charged periods in modern history, THE LAST PILOT is a mesmerising story of loss and finding courage in the face of it.

Benjamin Johncock was born in England in 1978. His short stories have been published by The Fiction Desk and The Junket. He is the recipient of an Arts Council England grant and the American Literary Merit Award, and is a winner of Comma Press's National Short Story Day competition. He also writes for the Guardian. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, his daughter, and his son.

Praise for THE LAST PILOT

‘The dense layering of real events, seriously technical language and sustained US vernacular makes for a big, muscular novel, but this is tenderly undercut by the quite different theme of a marriage and a family under unbearable stress... A cowboy in a silver suit he may be, but Jim Harrison’s descent into hell is convincing and moving.’ – Jane Housham, Guardian

‘Jim’s story is fascinating, and the author writes with a strong ear for dialogue, which rattles the pages with intensity. A marvellous, emotionally powerful novel.’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Benjamin Johncock has written one of the most American novels of the year … With remarkable accuracy, capturing the emotional weight of a time in history … The story is well paced and chock full of an array of inspirational characters … exuberant life beaming from the gorgeous prose. Johncock follows in the footsteps of the impressive list of writers that have been capable of creating lifelike dialogue by eliminating quotation marks and a large amount of tags in what is often pages of back forth between its characters. … reminiscent of the great Cormac McCarthy … The exposition is packed with detail, word choices and sentence structures that add up to equal a distinct and unique new voice in fiction … shows the careful and precise guidance of the authorial voice that can be trusted fully and wholeheartedly. Johncock writes paragraphs that are often only seen by master craftsman with many books already to their name … This debut novel is undoubtedly one of the most authentic pieces of fiction set in America in years.’ – Steven Petite, The Huffington Post

Visit Benjamin’s website and follow him on Twitter.

Sally Andrew, Finuala Dowling and Henrietta Rose-Innes longlisted for Sunday Times Ficton Prize

We are delighted to announce that three of our authors have been longlisted for the Barry Ronge Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa.

 

RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER: A TANNIE MARIA MYSTERY by Sally Andrew, GREEN LION by Henrietta Rose-Innes (both published by Umuzi) and THE FETCH by Finuala Dowling (published by Kwela) are on the longlist for The Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, formerly the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. Now in its sixteenth year, this prize is awarded annually to a novel that is of ‘rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.’

Previous Blake Friedmann winners of these prizes include Ivan Vladislavić (who has won both the fiction and non-fiction prizes for PORTRAIT WITH KEYS and THE RESTLESS SUPERMARKET), Marlene van Niekerk for AGAAT (translated by Michiel Heyns), Zakes Mda (HEART OF REDNESS) and Hugh Lewin for STONES AGAINST THE MIRROR.

The shortlist will be announced at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May. For more information on the prize, click here.

For more information on the authors, please see their individual author pages on our website, or their own websites.