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Former Haverhill man, now a professional soldier pens his debut novel




A writer who was raised and educated in Haverhill, before leaving to join the Army 21 years ago, has drawn on his military experiences for his debut novel, The Watch List.

Ian Flannery, who uses the pen name Joseph Mitcham, grew up on the Clements estate and was educated at Burton End Primary, Parkway Middle and then Castle Manor but now lives with his wife Michelle and two daughters, aged six and eight, in Yarm, North Yorkshire.

He is a former player and an honorary lifetime member of Haverhill Rugby Club (his younger brother Chris still plays for the club) and his mum, Julie Skuce, is secretary of the Haverhill Show.

Ian Flannery, aka Joseph Mitcham, with the transporter bridge at Middlesbrough behind him. Contributed picture
Ian Flannery, aka Joseph Mitcham, with the transporter bridge at Middlesbrough behind him. Contributed picture

Having served in the regular Army for more than 16 years with elite and technical units (the first two years with the Paras and the rest with the Royal Signals), Ian, 43, hopes that his writing is realistic and grounded.

He said: “I’ve never been much of a reader, but found that once my taste buds were whet by Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ book, The Feather Men, it opened up a whole new world of enjoyment.”

The Watch List describes an incredible plot, where the hero, Alex, stumbles across the UK Terror Watch List and decides to steal it.

The front cover of Joseph Mitcham's debut novel, The Watch List
The front cover of Joseph Mitcham's debut novel, The Watch List

He brings together a team of veterans from elite and special forces backgrounds to dispatch the worst of the suspects.

In the wake of recent terror attacks, said Ian, it is a highly emotive and topical story.

Ian, who has the rank of Major and is now the CO of the 50 (Northern) Signal Squadron, a reserve unit in Darlington, said: “I found the plot incredibly challenging to write at times, some readers will find the premise of the storyline abhorrent, but I think that good fiction should be challenging.

“If the debate around my book brings more people to reading, then that can only be a good thing.

“Authenticity and realism is vital in a ‘military techno-thriller’, such as The Watch List. I hope that I’ve achieved that.”

The Watch List, by Joseph Mitcham, is available now through Amazon in paperback and as an e-book on Kindle.

Ian has already written the first five chapters of his second novel, which is linked to the the plot of The Watch List but involves a character who has been radicalised in prison.


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