Friday, July 12, 2013

The Vets - My Fifth Book

The Vets was the first book I wrote as a full-time writer. I spent three months in Hong Kong in a hotel in Happy Valley doing the research, and spent several weeks in Vietnam.  At the time there were very few tourists in Vietnam and the only Western hotel was a ship on the river that had been sailed up from the Great Barrier Reef. Once I'd done the research I went to Paris and spent six months there writing the book.

I wrote the first four Stephen Leather thrillers while I was working as a journalist, and when I was able to devote myself to writing full time I was able to produce many more words!  In fact the first draft of The Vets came in at about 230,000 words!  My editor in the US felt it was way too long and I ended up throwing away about 30,000 words but it is still the longest Stephen Leather novel by far.

I think it's one of my best plots and suffers a bit from the title.  The Vets conjures up images of the Vietnam War or animal doctors in Yorkshire whereas it is actually a heist story, with a group of former soldiers being recruited to rob the racetrack in Hong Kong.