Adrian Cowderoy – author of topical spy thrillers


Bournemouth Triathlon, September 2019

I write topical spy thrillers, inspired by the Le Carré tradition. I follow the lives of young professionals and portray people who are under-represented in literature.

The novels focus on using modern intelligence methods, where the objective is to avoid deaths and maintain absolute secrecy.

With each novel there are topical and psychological themes, explored from the perspective of intelligence practitioners.

And across the novels, I will explore the battle of priorities between civil rights, the challenges faced by intelligence practitioners, and the changes needed for new technology and conflicts.


The spy thrillers

I have one novel that is finished and was shortlisted for the First Novel Prize, and I’m looking for representation and a publisher.

I have a new novel in its initial copy edit.

I have two more in planning.

And there are earlier works that never made the standard and are not about espionage.


About my writing

Why is there so little sex and violence in the novels? Because I found no need for literary licence – the real world of espionage is even more extraordinary than fantasy. I also portray contrasting viewpoints, so readers can decide for themselves.

Where did I learn about espionage? I taught myself. I study reference books and biographies, I use system dynamics to ‘reverse engineer’ intelligence agencies and model how they work, and I explore the human impact via my fictional characters.

When did I start writing? I first started fiction writing in my early teens inspired by a school alumnus, W. Somerset Maugham, and an English teacher who encouraged me to write fiction instead of essays.

How long did it take to write my first spy novel? I started work in 2012, went through several rewrites then a long period of refining it to get the balance right. Over 7 years I’ve clocked 5000 hours of writing and research, and worked with 10 editorial consultants and sensitivity readers. The next novel has been much easier.

Where do the ideas come from? Everywhere about me. I work out what ideas I need for a project, then go out and find them. 

Why novels? It is the perfect canvas for showing how people interact, how they change, and the consequences of their choices.

Where do I write? In my period bungalow on the edge of Reading, surrounded by books, music, bicycles and running shoes.