Former Warwick Courier journalist's debut novel is a Cold War spy thriller - with some inspiration from his time in Warwick
Jamie Smith has said some of the characters in the novel, a spy thriller called The Soviet Comeback, are inspired by some of the people he met and interviewed during his time working for the newspaper
Russian spies, The Cold War, novichok poisoning and endemic racism are some of the subjects covered by a former Warwick Courier journalist who has switched to writing fiction to publish his debut novel.
Jamie Smith s The Soviet Comeback is a Cold War spy thriller covering the story of a black Russian spy called Nikita who is the son of Nigerian immigrants and, in 1981 as a child, was abducted by a cruel and eccentric military colonel.
After years of punishing training as a KGB agent, Nikita is embedded in the CIA and reluctantly enters a world where enemies are difficult to avoid.
Before long Nikita finds himself caught between two superpowers, two romances and a conscience grappling with the awful things he must to do for the people he loves.
Jamie was a reporter for the Warwick Courier from 2010 to 2012 and now lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and daughter.
He said: "The concept for the book first came to me while living in Australia, just a couple of months before I moved back and started work at the Courier back in 2010. I'd read an Amnesty International article talking about some incidents of extreme racism in Russia, and growing up in Birmingham I'd seen for myself how racist attitudes were often manifested in the west.
"The idea for a black Soviet spy who had to navigate both cultures and a whole host of challenges on top of those faced by all KGB agents or international assassins came to me and immediately fired my imagination.
"I love spy thrillers, and the idea of one that follows an agent, with a different background from the usual, grappling with not just racism in the 1980s but also his own demons and all the usual assassinations, drama and suspense really appealed to me.
"As a former history graduate, setting it in a really interesting period of the Cold War and essentially writing a whole new fictional path that the Soviet Union could have taken was great fun.
"That being said, it did take me over a decade to write.
"I took the manuscript on holidays, to writing groups, and a range of pubs but unsurprisingly progress was slow (particularly in the pubs). It wasn't until I broke my leg quite badly and had an extended period off work that I really made significant progress.
"I thought writing articles for the paper was tough, but writing a whole book took it to another level, so just finishing it felt like a big achievement - actually getting a publishing deal really came as a huge surprise.
"My lifelong dream has been to see a book I've written on a shelf in a bookshop, so I'm hoping somewhere chooses to stock it, but either way it's felt really exciting to go through this whole process.
"Obviously I can't control whether people enjoy it or not, but I'm hoping that some readers somewhere will engage with it and find it a good summer holiday read if nothing else.
'I'm sure some of the characters were inspired by the broad range of interesting people and characters I met and interviewed during my time on the Courier, and some of the Warwick Town Council meetings definitely brought plenty of drama - but I promise that no character is fully based on any of them."