If I couldn’t go to China as planned in 2020, the least I can do is read books set there! It gives me enormous pleasure today to welcome Michael Steward to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me and tell me all about his debut novel that can transport me to China. Here’s what he told me:
Staying in with Michael Steward
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Michael. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
No problem, thanks for having me. I’m more than happy with a night in these days, my going out days are all but behind me now. In truth, 10.30pm is a late night for me nowadays!
Oh me too. I’ve always been more of a morning person. So, tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought along my debut thriller novel, Harvest, which is available now from Amazon.
Congratulations on your debut. What can we expect from an evening in with Harvest?
Well, it’s a dark thriller really and probably ended up a lot darker than I intended when I first set out to write it.
Ha! I think writers often find the characters and events take over and they end up with a different book to the one they planned. Tell me more.
My protagonist, private detective Ed Vaughan, takes the case of a missing British teacher in China and it all goes a bit wrong for him and partner, Andy McEwan, while they are over there. So it’s probably right up the street of readers who enjoy private eye/international mystery type books with a few twists and turns. The early reviews have been quite favourable, and people seem to be enjoying it, which is pleasing.
I bet – and a relief too no doubt! Did you find Harvest difficult to write?
I would say that being a crime reporter has definitely helped me in some aspects of writing the novel. Obviously news writing is a very different skill to novel writing but the discipline of having to get words on the page at the end of each day definitely helped. I can’t phone my editor at 5pm and say I wasn’t feeling inspired to write anything today. I’d probably receive a barrage of angry words down the phone! So, that, and having some knowledge of policing and the criminal justice system has helped along the way for sure.
That’s fascinating. What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?
I’ve brought along a plate of authentic street noodles from Beijing. I spent about six weeks travelling around China in 2013 as part of an extended 10-and-a-half month honeymoon with my wife.
Crikey. That’s some honeymoon. We had a mini-break to Paris almost 40 years ago!
If I’m honest, I found the food took a little bit of getting used to, and wasn’t at all like the Chinese takeaways back home. My wife and I both agreed that some of the best food we had was from the street vendors, who would cook up a storm right in front of you. My character, Ed Vaughan, certainly enjoys his food, and so it’s only right that I bring a slice of Beijing with me tonight.
I’m really envious of that China trip Michael. We were meant to be touring China in 2020, flying into Wuhan to begin three weeks of discovering the country. Funnily enough that didn’t happen!
I loved China, and it was on the honeymoon trip that I first got the idea for Harvest. I was handed a Falun Gong leaflet in Hong Kong after leaving China, and did some research about the group. It was an eye-opener to say the least, and the Shufen Lam organisation in my novel is based on Falun Gong.
Now I’m going to have to investigate Falun Gong a bit further. Tell you what. You cook up a few noodles and I’ll give Linda’s Book Bag readers a few more details about Harvest as I think it’s exactly the kind of book they’ll love. Thanks for staying in with me to chat about it Michael. I think it sounds brilliant.
When Laura Clayton, a British teacher working in Beijing, goes missing, former Met detective-turned private investigator Ed Vaughan is hired to search for her.
But within hours of arriving in the Chinese capital to start their investigation, Vaughan and partner Andy McEwan are brutally attacked. The injuries are superficial but the message is clear; stop looking for the girl or else.
But with the help of a confident young translator and a consular officer, the pair begin to unravel clues into Laura’s disappearance.
With their own lives at stake, the case leads the two private eyes to a place darker, and more depraved than they could have ever imagined.
Published on 24th February 2022, Harvest is available for purchase here.
About Michael Steward
Michael Steward is a crime journalist for the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star in Suffolk, UK. He is married, with two young daughters and lives in Bury St Edmunds, UK. He is keen on football, and having played himself in the non-league for Bury Town, also regularly attends Portman Road to see his beloved Ipswich Town play.
For further information, follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelReporter.