In my day job as a ghostwriter, there’s always a moment in the process when you hand the draft book over to the client and wait for the response. Without fail, they always tell me what an odd experience it is, seeing their words as though they have written them: ‘a bit like looking in the mirror’ is how one person described it.

This week, I got a sort of sense of what this feeling is like when I read an advance copy of thriller writer Andy Maslen’s new book, A Beautiful Breed of Evil (published on 28 February).

Back in 2019, I’d hosted that year’s Salisbury Literary Festival and the final event was a raffle of literary gifts for charity.

Among the prizes available were a Wiltshire walk with author Barney Norris and signed artwork by children’s writer Kristina Stephenson. Andy Maslen’s offering was to have a character named after the winner, who would then be bumped off in a future novel of his. No prizes for guessing who ‘won’ the winning ticket.

Which is why this week I found myself sitting down to read about the death of Thomas Bromley. Or more specifically, the brutal murder of Tomas Brömly, the former Swedish Ambassador to the UK. In proper grisly crime style, I can’t even describe in a family newspaper exactly how he – I – died. As I turned the pages, it seemed a harsh end for my namesake.

Not least because Brömly sounded a great guy: ‘a soul as pure as lake water’ according to another character. Maybe Andy had drawn on more than just my name for inspiration, I thought proudly. Then it turned out that there were sinister reasons why someone might want Brömly dead. Let’s hope he just stuck to my name, I qualified.

Even with the added umlaut and changed spelling, it was an extremely unsettling reading experience, seeing my name in print like that (those Internet trolls who comment on my column have some way to go).

After I finished, I asked Andy how it had been to write. “To begin with it felt a bit strange,” he told me, “especially given the gruesome way your murderer did away with you. I had to blank out what I knew about you as I wrote it.”

I was curious whether it was the first time Andy had based a murder victim on someone he knew.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t devised painful experiences up to and including death for people who have wronged me in the past,” he admitted. “I suspect it’s one of the few ways writers have of acting on their baser impulses.”

Be nice to authors is my advice.