The year is 2028 and it’s a stunning spring day on the Lincolnshire Wolds, when Bess finally persuades her Uncle John to tell her the story of the family scandal that’s been merely whispered about at weddings and funerals. We’re then transported back fifteen years where, as a young man, John Stafford is forced to chase his father across the USA and Europe.
We discover, over three time-zones, that A Good Death is essentially about three characters: an embittered, former military father, a quiet, troubled son, suddenly thrust into the midst of a family crisis, and a bright, questioning young woman, who acts as conscience to both uncle and grandfather. The relationship between all three is constantly tested, as John discovers aspects of his father’s past, and is forced to remember disturbing elements of his own history, when he was just a small child.
The novel is about love and hate and betrayal and in parts it’s a dark story. But all three characters are on their own personal journeys – which each feels compelled to make – and they don’t end until back in 2028, where fate, at long last, waits.
Links to the book:
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42958647-a-good-death
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
- When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I kind of stumbled into it really. My first teaching job wasn’t stimulating me enough and I had time on my hands. I was concerned about nuclear power at that point in my life and the possibility of a terrorist group getting their hands on spent uranium or plutonium because I believed the security arrangements were lax in the 1980s. So I wrote a novel about it. And then, on a roll, another political thriller shortly after, this time about the dangers of leaders using foreign enemies to bolster support at home. Then, I gave up writing for a few decades, going through other rites of passage.
- What inspired you to write this book?
Inspiration is a strong word. A lot of things interested me and I wondered how I could bring them all together.
I’ve always been interested in the interaction between individuals, for example, the relationship of father and son, particularly when faced with a family crisis. In this book I’ve also introduced a generational uncle-niece relationship, which is not much explored in literature.
That old chestnut, does the current western justice system really facilitate moral justice and is there a role for the vigilante in this process, is another theme. Are some people so bad they really deserve to die?
And, of course, there’s the sense of injustice for my persecuted gender. The current feminist narrative holds all men as the malevolent and undeserving recipients of privilege and all women as oppressed. This narrative drives a wedge between the sexes. The truth is that, while women have enjoyed emancipation and the fruits of countless policies aimed at benefiting them, men still suffer a raft of disadvantages in modern Western societies. The system, in the UK, is set up against men. I wanted to show this in a novel.
Finally, there’s that, possibly ultimate, philosophical issue; which is the more powerful, love or hate. I’ve attempted to answer that question in this book.
- If you could sell this book in one sentence what would it be?
A mix of love, hate and betrayal, with plenty of thrills thrown in for good measure.
- What are you up to next?
I’m going back to political thrillers. There’s so much happening in the world of politics and espionage at the moment that I’m spoilt for choice. Who is more dangerous, Putin or Trump?
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
Writing-wise there are a few. Orwell is up there. His insightful novels were a revelation when I was growing up and he puts his principles into personal action. Le Carré is the master of the art of the spy novel; a tier above anyone else in the genre, he takes the art into literature. I’ve also read everything that Bernard Cornwell has written. His entertaining prose, whilst maintaining attention to historical detail, is remarkable.
Philosophically, I’m really into Jordan Peterson at the moment. I don’t go along with his views on religious influence but I like his refreshing views on individualism that move away from tribal politics.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Bagley wrote his first two novels in the 80s, before moving on to different career paths, working as a teacher, educational consultant and running a multi-media company in the UK and US.
He now resides in Devon, where he’s been drawn back to writing and vainly attempts to win offshore yacht races.