Bodyguard interview with Nick Spill
The interview below is from a bodyguard who is still working and wishes to remain anonymous. There are the quiet professionals.
Q: Why did you write The Way of the Bodyguard?
A: People were always telling me I had to record my work stories down in a book. I had one problem though. Confidentiality. You cannot blurt out all the secrets of your clients, the people you protect. So after writing and rewriting these stories for over 10 years, I finally arrived at this format. As the subtitle states: knowledge not gossip.
Q: Who is your audience? Just bodyguards?
A: I am addressing four distinct audiences; people who are curious about what it’s like to be a bodyguard, people who want to get into the profession or at least dream about being a bodyguard and of course bodyguards who are already working. There is a lot of material and entertainment for these three audiences. The fourth group is people who probably never imagined they would read about bodyguards.
Q: Do you think bodyguards will be attracted to this book?
A: The Way works on many levels and I trust it will speak to working professionals. There is a lot of detail in each chapter and quite a few “aha” moments where bodyguards will appreciate what I am writing about. At the same time the principles and concepts I explain in the book can apply to all working professionals.
Q: What about the celebrity obsessed reader who thinks they are going to get delicious scandal and dark indiscrete revelations?
A: The subtitle to the Way lays it out very clearly – knowledge not gossip. But there are quite a few stories that are about real people I have dealt with. I have omitted the names, for obvious reasons.
Q: Was the cover design a takeoff on the film The Bodyguard?
A: More of a tongue in cheek homage. I love the idea of a strong man carrying a young woman to safety. The image is echoed in the first few pages in the book where I am carrying a rather famous person along a beach away from paparazzi and back to her hotel at dawn. So there is an immediate internal reference to the image. We all want to rescue the damsel in distress; it’s one of the oldest fairy tales. My damsel was hardly wearing a dress, but you have to read that story in my book.
Q: What can an ordinary layperson get from this book?
A: For a start no one is ordinary. I don’t divide people up into categories. I think that is narrow thinking. You would be surprised what so-called ordinary people can do under extraordinary circumstances. We see examples of courage and heroism everyday in the media. But by reading this book readers can gain more knowledge about the bodyguard profession and themselves. As I state over and over in the book, the Way is a journey, a path towards knowing yourself. Self knowledge, planning and lots of training can go a long way to accomplishing what you want to achieve in life and allow you to handle emergencies and unusual challenges as they arise. Whether you are a bodyguard, a teacher, a banker or a candlestick-maker, you can be your own protector and look after the ones you love.
Q: Any more thoughts on the book we have not covered?
A: A lot. I hope to inspire men and women to become bodyguards and increase the professionalism in our ranks. There are a lot of extremely talented young men and women who could become bodyguards. It is a growing profession and we need mentors and seasoned bodyguards to promote and encourage new blood.
We are all competitive, a little paranoid at times and wary of the new guy but we have to see our industry grow professionally, from within.
After all this is a journey, that is the central theme of the Way. We are all on the journey. When I recall what I was like when I started. Well, I don’t like to think about that! I like to think with maturity comes wisdom.
Q: You have an extensive reading list at the back of the book. Why?
A: To gain knowledge you have to read. A lot. Even some fiction can be instructive. Take for instance, the John Rain books.
I am a big fan of Barry Eisler’s John Rain books. In fact he has just gained control of his entire catalog and republished them under new titles on Amazon. I have already read them two, three times. Now I am rereading all the John Rain digital books on my iPad. Why? I can learn a lot from that character. John Rain stands as the quintessential assassin and enemy of any bodyguard. This is the man you do not want to meet up close in real life. You will die and you will never see it coming. He is that good. It makes me wonder what Barry Eisler did for the CIA during the 3 years he served. Rain has excellent tradecraft. And he makes a number of other assassins in popular fiction look far less capable and unrealistic. Because you get into his mind and how he operates, he becomes a very sympathetic character. That and the authenticity of the action and writing make for a compelling John Rain.
The main point I make about my fiction reading list is that there are writers who have experienced direct action or “the Life” if you like to call it that, the Special Forces operators, the intelligence agents, the no name contractors, then there are the journalists and other writers/researchers. There is a big difference between the two worlds, the two different sets of writers. Those who have done it and lived it, and those who have only researched it.
Q: Where do you put yourself in the two categories?
A: For a start, the Way is non-fiction. You will have to read the book to decide for yourself!
Q: Talking of Barry Eisler and his e-books on Amazon why are you only publishing on Amazon? Why not print hard copies?
A: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is the dominant e-book platform and the fastest most convenient way to release a book. They have the most readers and it is a revolutionary way of releasing information quickly and cheaply. I do not have DRM on my books and you can borrow The Way on Amazon’s own lending library. I have made it very easy for anyone with access to a reading device to read The Way.
I can set a very reasonable price for the book and anyone with a Kindle app whether they have an iPad, a Kindle, a laptop or any other reading device, can download the book and start reading it immediately. You cannot reach so many people with paper. When you go into a Starbucks do you see anyone reading a paper book? No, they are all reading from laptops, iPads or Kindles. Walk down the aisles on any plane over the U.S. and see how many people are reading from iPads and Kindles and other digital devices. There are fewer and fewer hardcover and paperback book readers. Most big bookstore chains have closed where I live. This is sad, but a fact in our fast changing world. I still buy books from our beloved Books and Books. There is a special place for independent booksellers especially book industry geniuses like Mitch Kaplan. In fact, it was Mitch who said one time when I bumped into him at an airport, “You should write a book about your experiences, Nick.” Thanks, Mitch. I did and here it is.