Sometimes when things seem to be falling apart, they are actually falling together. – African proverb.
Matt Johnson served as a soldier from 1975-78 and Metropolitan Police officer from 1978 -1999.
His debut novel Wicked Game – a crime thriller – was published by Orenda Books in March 2016. The sequel Deadly Game, was published in March 2017.
Wicked Game was listed for the Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger award, has topped the Amazon and WH Smith KOBO charts in several categories and at the end of 2016 was listed by Amazon UK as the highest-rated ‘rising star’ novel of 2016.
Deadly Game tackles the current and sensitive topic of people trafficking – it is told from the authentic view that only a former cop could achieve. The trailer describing the book can be found here.
Peter James, the international best-selling novelist said of Matt’s first book “Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers.”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes said of Wicked Game – “From the ﬁrst page to the last, an authentic, magnetic and completely absorbing read.”
Such endorsements would be serious praise were Matt to have been trained as a writer and have come though a traditional route. But he didn’t. In fact, his journey from the military, through policing to eventual publication might be described as unique.
In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.
Matt was eventually persuaded to give this a go, and one evening, he sat at his computer and started to weave his notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He used his detailed knowledge and recollections to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing and terrorism.
I could be argued that Matt Johnson is living proof PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers.
In his words, he describes that process here.
Born 1957, in Middlesex, UK.
Lives – South Wales and Cornwall.
Best kept secret – at the age of 17, played rhythm guitar for ‘Lear’, a band that rejected Simon Le Bon as their new lead singer. And from Matt himself …
Ten things you didn’t know about me.
1. I play the guitar. As a teenager I played in a band that gigged in local pubs. We mainly did David Bowie covers as our lead singer looked and sounded like Bowie. Deciding that we needed a second singer, we auditioned. The only applicant didn’t play an instrument and, at the time, didn’t sing too well. We turned him down. His name – Simon Le Bon.
2. I keep bees, having become fascinated watching a bee keeper at work and deciding five years ago to have a try myself. I enjoy the hobby, even if monitoring my sugar levels means limiting my consumption of the resulting honey.
3. I scuba dive, having done the PADI courses up to advanced level some years ago. I’ve now over 100 dives under my belt including in the Red Sea and Malta, as well us home waters off Cornwall and the south coast. One of my favourite dives was Lundy Island where we swam with the seals. A wonderful experience.
4. I walk every day – in the Welsh hills with my dogs. I used to have four but sadly, two passed away during the last year. I find walking to be very relaxing as well as good exercise. Now that I’m writing, it’s also the time when I mull over and come up with ideas, so I always carry a digital recorder to help remember thoughts.
5. My mother and father were great friends with Leslie Thomas, the author of Virgin Soldiers and The Tropic of Ruislip. I used to walk to infant school with Leslie’s daughter, Lois. Again, rather sadly, with both my father and Leslie now no longer with us, I won’t get the opportunity to celebrate my being published with them.
6. I once played rugby for London Wasps. I say once, as it wasn’t a great experience. I was at school when our PE teacher – who was Wasps fly half – took a few of us young lads to help as Wasps were short. We donned the black and gold kit and turned out, only to be smashed to bits when put up against men who were much stronger and more experienced than we were. It really was a case of men against boys. The next time we were asked, not a single one of us said yes.
7. With my former wife, I used to run an animal rescue specialising in cats and dogs. We started it after I left the police and, over the years, we found new homes for many thousands of abandoned and stray animals. Spiritually, it was very rewarding work but extremely demanding.
8. As a soldier and police officer, I trained in the use of many vehicles. I completed a number of driving courses for both cars and motorcycles and, even now, my love of them continues. For pleasure, I drive an old Jaguar XKR and a ’99 Harley Davidson Fatboy. Although trained and qualified to drive fast, I have a family reputation as a bit of a slug. I tend not to rush, following the adage that nothing is so urgent as to justify an accident. I’ve seen what happens to people when they crash at speed and that tends to have a sobering effect on your own driving.
9. I’m patron to two charities, The Armed Forces Bikers and Shoeboxes for our Heroes. Being a patron to them is an incredible honour and I’m more than happy to do what I can to help both of these fundraising charities.
10. And probably of least interest is the fact that I collect hats. And I’m not talking just a few. It started during my Army service and continues now. I even wear some of them. I include in my collection a Foreign Legion Kepi, a WWII Tommy helmet, an Australian Akubra and a Russian Submariner officer foxfur hat. Many of the hats used to be displayed on a wall until a house move confined them to boxes where many of them remain.