Staying in with Michael Coolwood on Not in My Name publication day

It’s always a joy to be part of a brand new book’s journey into the world and it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Michael Coolwood to Linda’s Book Bag Today. Michael’s Not In My Name is published today and Michael kindly agreed to stay in with me to tell me all about it.

Staying in with Michael Coolwood.

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Michael.

Thanks. I haven’t spent this amount of time in a bag for many years now.

I should hope not! Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

My pleasure. Apart from everything else, it’s really cold outside.

At least we’re cosy in here. Now, I know I know, but which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought along Not in My Name. I’ve chosen it because of the date –the book is set during the start of the 2003 Iraq War and we’ve just had the 18 year anniversary of that particular disaster. We’ve also just had wrapped up the latest Brexit deadline, although I’m sure it won’t be the last. That’s relevant because the book is about Brexit, although not directly.

It’s also publication day for Not In My Name isn’t it? Congratulations! So, what can we expect from an evening in with Not in My Name.

Firstly, and most importantly, it’s a really good mystery. A cosy mystery, specifically. Much like Agatha Christie, Agatha Raisin and Her Royal Spyness it’s designed to give the readers a challenging puzzle to solve with a cosy atmosphere and nice characters. You get extra points for reading it whilst wrapped in a duvet or in front of a wood fire.

That sounds like the perfect kind of book to me Michael!

You can also expect a story where the politics are unapologetically left wing. The characters are a group of anti-war activists who live on a farm on the outskirts of Birmingham. That being said, the politics of the novel shouldn’t be alienating to those who don’t think of themselves as on the left as, in 2021, everyone in the UK seems to have concluded that the Iraq War was an absolute disaster. It’s one of the only things we can truly agree on.

Sounds fascinating. What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I’ve brought along the music of Brass Against, particularly the song Take the Power Back. You can hear it here.

Brass Against are a brass band that do covers of Rage Against The Machine songs. In case you’re not familiar with Rage, they were an anti-capitalist rock group that rose to popularity in the late 90s. You may remember them as having an xmas #1 single in 2009 with Killing in the Name. It knocked whatever X-Factor song was aiming for #1 that year into second place. 2009 was a simpler time.

You’re making me feel old Michael. I’ve never heard of them before tonight…

Anyway, anyway, Brass Against take the screaming guitars and pounding bass of Rage and produce brass band arrangements that are quirkier whilst losing none of the fury of the original music.

They certainly do!

I grew up playing in brass bands – marching bands as part of the Boys’ Brigade, jazz bands at school and then ska punk bands once I left. There’s something deeply satisfying to me when someone takes a brass band, something which can be a little stodgy and linked to jingoism, and then uses it as a political tool.

So how would you link this track to Not In My Name?

Not in My Name is all about political resistance and alternate models of patriotism. It’s also caught between two time periods. It’s set in 2003, just as the war in Iraq was kicking off, but it’s not about the Iraq War, it’s about Brexit. The book is using the past to talk about the present. As such, I thought a modern band covering music from the 90s with traditional instruments but covering subjects such as police violence and pro-democracy protest fits the book quite well. Plus, the music slaps and Sophia Urista, who sings on most of the tracks, is a phenomenal rapper.

Not in My Name

Private Eye meets Agatha Christie…

What if the British people had been given a vote about invading Iraq in 2003. And the referendum split the nation with a 52% to 48% yes vote. A young activist is beaten to death after an anti-war demonstration. The police say her murder was random. It wasn’t. More activists will be murdered. The activists only trust each other. Maybe that trust has already been betrayed. Witty, political and provocative, this New Adult mystery is based on real events, and keeps the reader guessing to the very end.

Published by Claret Press, today 20th March 2021, Not in My Name is available for purchase here.

About Michael Coolwood

Michael Coolwood writes feminist cosy mysteries, science fiction and fantasy.  His work is deeply political and his characters are driven by a desire to make the world a better place. This is partly due to a respect for passionate, caring people, and partly because cuts to the health service in the UK have ensured he can barely leave the house due to his swamp of health problems.

For more information, visit Michael’s website or find him on Facebook.

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