Stella Rimington – Edinburgh Book Festival 2011

Photo by Jamie Hughes

Former MI5 boss Stella Rimington is the author of six contemporary spy novels. People are always asking her if she based her heroine on herself and she told us that the one thing she has in common with the “sharp, spiky and intuitive” Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle is that they both hate being patronised – especially by men. When Rimington first joined MI5, “women were second class citizens and they had second class careers. They couldn’t go out and gather intelligence.”

Thank goodness things have come a long way since then. In her novels, Rimington has tried to “reflect the fact that there are a lot of women working in our Intelligence Services at a high level.” She also wanted to “release the spy story from the men. I wanted to have a character who works in a team, by thought and analysis, not the type who runs around with a really big gun trying to kill people.”

Rimington’s stories come from “keeping a very sharp eye on what’s going on in the world.” Her plots cover what she believes are threats to our national security. Her former colleagues carefully read through her manuscripts before they are published to make sure she hasn’t inadvertently revealed any potentially damaging secrets. “So far they have asked me to change or remove very few things. I dread the day when I send them a complete manuscript and they say, ‘You can’t use that plot at all.’”


3 thoughts on “Stella Rimington – Edinburgh Book Festival 2011

  1. I’ve never read her work either but I was intrigued when I saw she was the former head of MI5. It gives me confidence that she knows what she’s talking about in her novels. I’ll give them a try too 🙂

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