With great interest in the global financial problems, Martin Bodenham’s debut novel The Geneva Connection is making big waves on Amazon. I interviewed him recently about his work.
Welcome, Martin. Can you tell me a little about your background?
I was born in Leicester, England in 1959. My American father worked in the US Air Force while my British mother sterilized telephone handsets. I was educated at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School in Kent (a military academy) and at the University of Leicester, where I read economics. After university, I trained as a chartered accountant, working in the UK and USA. I have spent the last twenty-five years in private equity, working either as an investor or advisor. Today, I am the CEO of Advantage Capital, a London-based private equity firm. Along the way, I have been an investor at investment banks, 3i and Close Brothers, and a corporate finance partner at both KPMG and Ernst & Young. I am married to Jules, a psychotherapist, and we live in Rutland, England’s smallest county.
Your recently published debut novel is a crime thriller, about the corrupt global financial world…
In The Geneva Connection, published by Musa Publishing in December 2011, the worlds of private equity and organised drug crime collide. The main character, John Kent, is a successful private equity investor. Too late, he discovers his firm’s largest investor is a front for a brutal Mexican drug cartel. His life becomes a nightmare after an ambitious DEA agent leans on him to provide key evidence against the cartel. But if he cooperates, he will be a dead man.
Why did you choose to use a small, independent publisher?
As a first time author, I thought it would be difficult to attract the interest of the big publishing houses, particularly without an agent. A friend of mine is a multi-published writer, and he suggested that some of the smaller, independent presses were still open to direct approaches from debut authors. This seemed like good advice so I researched the market, both in the UK and US, as my novel is set in both countries. I ended up with a potential list of fifteen publishers. I started small and approached only one in the US and one in the UK in the first instance. I figured I would learn from those before sending out more submissions. In fact, both publishers showed interest, and I decided to accept the contract from Musa Publishing. I was astounded when they issued a contract within forty-eight hours of receiving my complete manuscript. After that, Musa created the book cover artwork and put it through three levels of detailed edits. It took just over three months between contract and publication. That impressed me.
How did you feel being published for the first time?
I was immensely proud that my debut novel had passed this milestone. Many of my friends and family kindly acted as beta readers of the late manuscript, and they liked it, but seeing the book actually published meant it had achieved a certain objective quality threshold. The publisher had seen enough potential in my work to devote time and money to it.
I celebrated by taking my wife out to an exclusive restaurant for dinner. That was the least I could do since she had put up with me droning on about my book for the best part of a year!
What did you do for promotion?
As my novel is set against the backdrop of the financial crisis and subsequent credit crunch, I contacted the BBC. I am pleased to say they have interviewed me twice since the book was published. It seems its topical storyline has hit a seam of public interest in all things financial.
Have you had much feedback from your readers?
I have received a lot of feedback from readers. Some have suggested topics for future books, while others have offered feedback on The Geneva Connection. As a writer, it has been wonderful to be able to use the internet to have direct contact with my readers. They can contact me using the email link on the bio page of my website. A number have told me what they really liked about my novel. The more specific feedback has been particularly helpful, and I have learned more about what works and what doesn’t. I guess I have also matured with the process, learning to take feedback as a way to improve my writing.
How do you feel about the publishing industry?
I have been amazed by the similarity of the worlds of publishing and my own industry, private equity. When I sent in my publisher submissions, I remembered what three things matter most to a private equity firm when it decides whether or not to run with a business plan. Only one or two plans out of a hundred are ever considered. These three things were: money (how will the publisher make money out of this?), market (can I convince the publisher there is a sustainable market for my writing?), and management (do I have a strong background in my market which means my writing will have credibility and authenticity?).
Any final words for aspiring writers?
Take all criticism as having the potential to improve your writing. Don’t take it personally!