Serial Review: A Real Spy Story

My recent serial ‘A Real Spy Story’ has now concluded after 35 episodes. As usual, I like to give an overview of how it was received, and the process involved in researching and writing it.

Following my reglar routine, the idea for the serial started with the ending, and worked back. It was also prompted by remembering a newspaper article I read in the 1980s, about a British spy who was found in a Siberian labour camp. He had first been imprisoned before WW2, and eventually forgottten about by Britain, and the Soviets. After Perestroika, he was finally repatriated to England. But he was never named by the journalist.

I tried hard to create a sympathetic lead character in Helen. And as the story was essentially a two-hander between the main characters, I used the ‘flashback’ sections to add some more characters, and geographical details. The photo used as a header every day (and shown above) is a real photo of a Russian penal colony, sourced online. As I have visited both Moscow and Leningrad on several occasions in the past, I was able to use memory for some places and locations. I checked on modern Google maps that they still existed. I have also been to Burgas and Sozopol, two real locations in Bulgaria used in the story.

This was by far one of my ‘happiest’ serials as a writer. I really enjoyed writing it, and setting the scenes in Helen’s house, and the various prisons where she was incarcerated. I also enjoyed the details of her appearance, and her excessive consumption of food, vodka, and cigarettes. When I worked for Police Special Operations in London, I did have regular contact with the Security Services like MI5 and MI6. It was true then that operatives had names like Quentin, Roderick, and so on. But I based the 1960s spying operations on the activities of the famous ‘Cambridge Spies’ in England after WW2.

Views for the serial were relatively low, averaging 90 a day, with some still to come in. That gives me a rough total of 3,150 views so far.

But engagement and comments were both very good, and I was happy to see many readers become invested in the character of Helen.

Thanks as always to everyone who stuck with it, and extra thanks to those who commented and shared parts on social media.

I will be examining the suggestions sent in for my next serial, and will soon be publishing the complete story in one long post.