Upmarket Espionage / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Date Published: January, 15, 2016
In 1960s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency. But when he falls in love with cab driver Charles, his life goes off the road. Charles is accused of being an enemy spy, and Peter is guilty by association. Though they manage to escape, the seeds of doubt have been planted, leaving Peter to wonder how much he can truly trust his lover. Is ignorance bliss or merely deadly?
10 Things You Didn’t Know about The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller
by M Pepper Langlinais
by M Pepper Langlinais
1. The first part of the book, which is called “St. Peter in Chains” was originally released as a novella. Then I received emails from readers asking what happened next, so I wrote the rest of the book.
2. Peter’s original name was Stephen, but when I settled on the title “St. Peter in Chains,” I thought it would be weird if his name wasn’t Peter, so I changed it.
3. I adapted “St. Peter in Chains” into a short screenplay, and it won an award. It also received a professional table read at Sundance Film Festival. (Still hoping to get it made into a movie.)
4. Peter wasn’t planned as a gay character. I was going to have him flirt with his secretary Miranda. But when I started writing, he steadfastly refused. If you read the novel, you can see how Miranda takes it. (hint: not well)
5. The novella started with the party at Gordon’s house, but an agent told me to add another layer of espionage, so I added in the Jules Maier plot for the novel version. Jules did not exist in the original story.
6. I adore Peter, but I think my favorite character is actually Simeon Martin.
7. The pasta dish Ken Gamby cooks is an actual recipe my friend from the Netherlands used to make for me. Though it’s a simple dish, I have never been able to make it turn out as well as she did!
8. I did a travelogue of Peter and Charles’ travels for the A to Z blog challenge in April 2013, but those vignettes don’t reflect the final novel. In fact, one of them mentions Jules Maier having been killed, but that was before I decided to make Jules part of the rewrites. Still, I’m very proud of entries “O” and “W.” (You can still find it all archived on my blog at PepperWords.com)
9. I grew up with a girl from Poland, so I borrowed her last name for the character of Alexander Sepiol. And Byron—Peter’s university boyfriend—was the name of one of our cats. Like Peter’s Byron, ours was very needy.
10. It took me only three weeks to write “St. Peter in Chains” but over two years to write the rest of the book!
“Get him out or take him out.” Peter’s heart was in his knees, but he made sure it didn’t sound in his voice.
Noise on the line as Jules Maier shifted. Peter pictured him tucked up in a dark, cramped flat with too-low ceilings and flimsy furniture. It would be perpetually damp there. Musty. And yet Jules would still somehow manage to look perfectly put together. Jules rolled out of bed perfectly put together. It was sinful.
“After all that work to get him in?” Jules asked.
Perfectly put together but, Peter was reminded, also a tad whiney. Gordon had once told Peter he couldn’t think of the men out in the field as real people, not if he wanted to be able to do the job well. “Don’t think of them as men you’ve met, had lunch with, drinks with,” Gordon said. “Think of them as characters in a book or players in a game.” Peter had wondered at the time whether Gordon thought of him that way, but he’d been too afraid of the answer to ask.
And now, with the file open in front of him and the face of Alexander Sepiol staring back from his desk, it was difficult advice to take. Peter closed the folder. “You know how this goes, Jules.”
A heavy sigh. “I’ll try to get him out, of course.”
“Don’t waste any time,” Peter instructed. “And, Jules?”
Peter imagined the arched eyebrow, the tiny smile. He was probably wearing one of those goddamned turtlenecks. “Get yourself out as soon as you can. I don’t want to have to send anyone in after you.”
* * *
He hoped the drive down to Oxshott would clear his head, but his mind continued to jump from Jules to Alexander and back again. Why wouldn’t Alexander leave Germany? How could they coerce him? Had Alexander already given them away? If so, to whom? Was Jules really doing everything he could?
Probably not. Jules was lazy. But if Alexander had leaked, Jules was also in trouble. Along with a half dozen more people in Brandenburg’s Frankfurt.
Peter was surprised to find he’d arrived, his musings having stolen the time. The grass in front of the Lessenbys’ was dead with winter and flat with cars. Peter added his TR3 to the fleet.
He didn’t bother to knock; he never did at the Lessenbys’, and with the party, no one would have heard it anyway. Gordon and Elinor held it every year at the holidays, this odd assemblage of people whose jobs were to be quiet and unseen, Gordon a gaunt anti-Fezziwig.
Peter spotted him standing near the fireplace, Trevor Tillholm planted squarely in front of him, and he started in that direction, but Elinor Lessenby caught sight of Peter and moved in, arresting his progress. Her oversized hat forced him to rock back a bit on his heels; he then took a full step backward as her oversized body followed the brim.
“Peter!” she shrilled as she held out a hand. “How did you sneak in without any of us noticing? Oh!” she laughed, not waiting for him to answer, “no, I know, it’s what you do!”
M Pepper Langlinais is best known for her Sherlock Holmes stories. She is also a produced playwright and screenwriter. She lives in Livermore, California.
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