Monday, November 16, 2009

Crime Fiction Alphabet: G is for Green, Michael

Continuing the fun series started by fellow Anzac book blogger Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, where each week bloggers from around the world write about a notable crime fiction novel or author (first name or surname) starting with a particular letter of the alphabet, this week is the turn of "G".

Given that in my "A" post I said I would regularly sprinkle my contributions with a New Zealand-related post or two, this week I am planning on doing a couple of contributions, starting with a post on Kiwi thriller writer Michael Green, whose second book in his thriller trilogy about the Chatfield family's quest for survival following a global pandemic, was released in New Zealand in September (and is scheduled to be released in Australia this month).

NB - this Crime Fiction Alphabet post is an edited reproduction of a profile post I did on Green earlier this year.

Born in Sevenoaks, England, 65 years ago, Green grew up as a naturally 'mouthy kid' who was never afraid of expressing his opinions. In his NZ Book Month blog in 2008, he recalled how growing up in a tough part of town, he learned to hold his own with his mouth, since he couldn' t with his fists. That growing comfort with speaking out led to speaking roles at the Boy Scouts, and some school plays when he was sent to serve as a cadet at the 'Training Ship Mercury' from the age of 13 to 17.

Along with that lifelong ability to speak well in public, Green developed a love of sailing and the sea from an early age. He now lives on his yacht, the 40' John Lidgard designed motor sailer Raconteur, in Gulf Harbour, north of Auckland. Although he has lived in New Zealand for decades, having transferred here as the IT Manager of a large British multinational, he still visits Europe regularly, and has recently spent time in France, working on the third book in the trilogy. He often spend the New Zealand winter in the northern hemisphere, and still has family in England.

Before becoming a full-time writer in recent years, Green worked as a successful international IT recruitment consultant, and as a professional public speaker. His love of sailing led to his first book, the humourous novel BIG AGGIE SALES THE GULF in 1986. He says this was based on his own "misadventures sailing around the Hauraki Gulf in a Davidson M20".

Green had also become involved in Toastmasters (a public speaking organisation) while living in New Zealand, and after seeing one of his presentations publishers approached him to write a book on giving great speeches - which resulted in SUCCESSFUL SPEECHMAKING. For many years Green has been an advocate of the importance of communicating well, both in business and other areas of life. In his NZ Book Month blog in 2008, he says: "It was while working as a recruitment consultant that I discovered one of the great truths of life. It isn’t the academically cleverest people who make the biggest salaries. It’s the people who can present and sell their ideas (or, as in the case of Bill Gates, present and sell other people’s ideas.)"

When Green retired from his IT consultancy business in 2003, he found he had more time to write, and notes in his blog that "like many who retire, I also felt it was time to ‘put something back’. " Combining his goals of writing a novel, and raising money for charity, he began work on a thriller, inspired by the SARS outbreak, looking at how the few survivors of a global pandemic that got out of control might act, and interact, when everything was stripped away from them.

"What would I do, how would protect myself and my family?" asked Green. "The answers to those questions became the basis of my novel The Crucial Gene. (The sequel to Big Aggie is on the back burner yet again!)" Green aimed to raise $10,000 for the telephone counselling charity Lifeline - a cause close to his heart due to New Zealand's high youth suicide rate, and the fact that years ago he'd lost his son, and an aunt back in England, in that way.

Green self-published THE CRUCIAL GENE, intending to raise $10,000 by selling 1,000 books, using his toastmaster skills to market the book - he sold out the print run (and more) by talking to Lions, Rotary, and Probus Clubs, and was able to exceed his planned donation to LifeLine. The book was then picked up by Randon House, and republished in late 2008 as BLOOD LINE (with some minor edits to make it a 'tighter' novel).

In BLOOD LINE, when a devastating global pandemic strikes, members of the Chatfield family seem to be the only survivors in New Zealand; a unique genetic twist allowing them to survive the virus. Guessing their relatives in England may have similarly survived, two of the NZ branch of the family embark on a perilous journey to the other side of the world in the small yacht Archangel. When they arrive in England they find their relatives living in a medieval style 'lor and master' community based on the rule of fear - not only may the Kiwi Chatfields not be able to take any relatives back home, they may not be able to escape themselves.

In September, the second book in the series, BLOOD BOND, was released. Again, many of the proceeds will go to LifeLine. BLOOD BOND picks up right where the first book left off. As the blurb states: "Now escaping the repressive regime at Haver Hall in the UK, a group sails back to the southern hemisphere. Stopping in South Africa and then Australia, they are faced by unexpected dangers but also the hope that there might be other survivors. What awaits them in New Zealand, though, is even more challenging. And can those left in the UK survive each other?"

My review of BLOOD BOND in NZLawyer was published in early October - you can read it HERE. You can read a press release Q&A with Michael Green here, and an extract from BLOOD BOND here. You can learn more about Lifeline here.


  1. Thanks for featuring Michael Green, Craig. It's odd, isn't it, how this week, each of us featured a novel/author that the other hasn't yet read. I've actually heard great things about Green from other sources, and your profile has gotten me interested in him!

  2. I haven't read anything by Michael Green. These two books sound interesting - your summaries remind me of John Wyndham's book 'The Chrysalids' about survivors of The Tribulation (possibly a nuclear war) whose lives are governed by a strictly fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. A small group of the survivors get in touch with people on the other side of the world in the hope they will rescue them.

  3. Another NZ writer to look out for. Thanks for participating in the meme Craig.

  4. The first of these is on my wishlist already - I suspect from your earlier post. The storyline sounds reminiscent of one of my favourite post-apocalyptic books that I read years ago - Luke Rhinehart's LONG VOYAGE BACK.

  5. Great post - I don't think I have read BloodLine though it sounds vaguely familiar. As mentioned, it could be because the plot is used with various twists and variants, quite a bit. But I do like these apocalyptic novels, so I may well give this a go. I loved On The Beach by Nevil Shute, and I rather liked The Stand by Steven King though have not read the longer version he issued some time after the original (also long!). As booksplease says, John Wyndham wrote several books along these themes, and I'm a big fan of his. Plus Danny Boyle's film 28 Days Later was a reworking of Day of the Triffids. (did not enjoy it enough to see the follow up 28 some-other-unit-of-time later).