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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 July, 2005, 21:05 GMT 22:05 UK
'Terror' author hails London response
By Helen Bushby
BBC News entertainment reporter

Author Chris Cleave was lined up for a raft of publicity for his debut novel Incendiary - but it has all been cancelled.

His book about a "massive terrorist attack on London" was published on Thursday, the same day the capital was bombed.

The book is about a woman whose family are killed by suicide bombers
Incendiary looked destined for big things - film rights were bought in February by Archer Street Films, which made Bridget Jones's Diary and Girl With a Pearl Earring.

Sharon Maguire, who was behind the first Bridget Jones movie, was set to direct it.

Whether this will still happen is up to the film company.

The book is written as an open letter to Osama Bin Laden, and seen through the eyes of a woman whose son and husband die when 11 suicide bombers target Arsenal's football stadium.

But Londoner Cleave's focus is not on his book - it is on the capital and the spirited response of its people.

'Morbid coincidence'

"I was stunned. The dignity of Londoners and their refusal to be hysterical and their total defiance against the bombings was incredible," he said.

"It was the most inspiring thing I've ever seen."

He admitted that after initially hearing about the explosions his first concern was for his wife, who was on her way to work. She managed to travel unharmed.

It was not until "much later" that the shock of events coinciding with his book's release occurred to him.

The publication date for his novel was set up six months ago, and Cleave said it was a "really morbid coincidence".


However, he was keen to stress it would be "grossly insensitive" to plug his book, and was 100% behind Waterstone's axing the book's advertising.

Posters going up in the tube are also being taken down and media interviews and reviews have been dropped.

"I respect the decision of any bookseller to either drop advertising or pull the book entirely - it's up to them," he said.

He is proud of his work, which took a year to write, and said: "I still think my voice is an important voice but it's one of thousands of important voices in the aftermath of terror.

"More than anything I just want to say to the families of people who died how much I express my sympathy for what they're going through - this is not about me any more - it's about them."

He wrote the book after three major incidents last year - the Madrid train bombing and two events in Iraq - the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail and the beheading of Nick Berg, an American civilian.

Train wreckage from one of the 11 March blasts in Madrid
Nearly 200 people died in the Madrid train bombings last year

"My son Louis was six months old during these events and I was falling in love with him," he said.

"I never believed it was possible to love someone so infinitely. I became terrified that he was growing up in a world descending into cruelty and barbarism."

He said his book was a response to the ugly contrast between those world events and his "beautiful son".

"My book is about love expressed in very brutal terms - a cry for the end of violence."

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