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Double agent’s tale inspires ex-regional sub’s war novel

A war tale of intrigue, espionage and betrayal has been published by a former regional journalist.

Cailean McBride, who still freelances on several newspapers in Scotland, has penned Johnny Zero,  front cover pictured below, which is set during the Second World War and its run-up.

The book is inspired by a review he wrote for Ben Macintyre’s Agent ZigZag, the non-fiction story of notorious double agent Eddie Chapman, but Cailean freely admits to having “not been too precious” with the history involved.

Cailean, who spent much of his career as a sub-editor, has also set up his own micro-publishers called Calenture Press to produce the book, which he hopes to use to revive classic Scottish books in future.

Johnny ZeroHe said: “I’ve been a production journalist for years and I’ve always been fascinated by the whole process of production, from initial writing, through to design, right to the nitty gritty of getting the thing on the presses and out to the public.

“And while it’s probably no better a time for the publishing industry than it is for the newspaper one, I’d definitely like to do more with Calenture in the future.

“Not just my own stuff, but I’d be tempted to maybe revive some old and not-so-old Scottish classics that have fallen by the wayside over the years.”

Cailean began his career on Aberdeen’s Press and Journal in 1992, before moving to Australia six years later to work on Fairfax Community Newspapers, in Sydney.

He came back to the UK after a year to work on the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, before another brief spell in Sydney.

Upon his second return to these shores he spent five years at the Oxford Mail before switching to The Argus, Brighton, between 2008 and 2010.

Based in Troon, Ayrshire, Cailean now freelances for titles include The Herald, Glasgow, The National and the Scottish Sun.

Of Johnny Zero, he said: “It’s a compelling story, I think. The war was a fascinating time with pretty much everybody having to put their lives on hold for the greater good.

“It’s difficult to imagine that happening to the same extent now.”

Johnny Zero is available now on Amazon.