An Interview with Irene Thompson, author of THE A-Z of PUNISHMENT AND TORTURE

It is a difficult task to conveniently, or comfortably, arrange a catalogue of cruelty to document the full extent of man’s inhumanity to man …

The A-Z of Punishment and Torture is available as an e-book where ever fine e-books are sold.

CoT: It seems that The A-Z of Punishment and Torture may have put you outside of a certain comfort zone in regards to the content — would you write another book on a macabre topic like this?  Or did you find yourself truly out of your comfort zone?

IT: I have written about totally factual events, both past and present, reporting them in as objective a way as I could. In a journalism career spanning more than 40 years, I have written on an enormous range of subjects, some very distasteful, so I suppose I am able to be dispassionate, in much the same way a surgeon operates on a living human without feeling emotionally connected to the person. While some of the content of the book is disturbing, I don’t think it’s any more unpalatable than the content of the average nightly news bulletin, or a detective drama. Sadly, we have all become relatively immune to cruelty and violence. I think the book is important in highlighting some of the worst atrocities still being inflicted on humans in parts of the world. We shouldn’t be ignorant of how others suffer.

How does the reworked e-book version of  The A-Z of Punishment and Torture compare to the 2008 hardcover release?

The major difference is the change in illustrations. This time they have been drawn by Cathy Edmunds, whose unique style captures the stark drama of the subject material. There have been a few additions to the written content but largely changes are minimal.

Were there any entries that didn’t make it into the published version? If so, why?

As you say, there are limits to what you can include in a book intended for the general public. I have excluded any material I considered salacious or unnecessary to fulfil the brief, i.e. giving an overview of punishments.

What sort of reader did you envision would be interested in The A-Z of Punishment and Torture? Has the actual audience turned out to be what you expected?

I was surprised how many young people showed an interest in the book. I had assumed it would appeal mostly to (a) men and (b) older people. Initially, readers tend to pick up the book with a certain amount of reluctance, maybe thinking it’s a boring historical account, or because they think it will make for stomach-churning reading. However, once they have turned a few pages, they discover how fascinating a subject this is, and that the book can be read in bite-sized pieces.

Did the e-book version measure up to your exceptions?  How does the process compare to traditional publishing?

I’m not sure I had any expectations with regard to the e-book, since I knew nothing about them. I was very impressed with the e-book production process compared with traditional publishing. Electronic editing made it quick and straight forward to make changes and to track them.

I can definitely see that e-books are the future. I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to become a part of this exciting revolution in book production and reading.

[Read an excerpt of The A-Z of  Punishment and Torture here.]


* * *

An insatiable curiosity and natural flair for crisp, colourful writing have equipped international journalist Irene Thompson with the communication skills so vital in the quirky and demanding world of off-beat non-fiction.

Previous books include in-depth investigations of modern day ‘miracles’ and hair-raising escapes from death.

She worked on newspapers and magazines in London,
Hong Kong and the US, among other places. And her work with mass-circulation tabloid press developed a taste for the bizarre … hence The A-Z of Punishment and Torture.

Irene has been US-based education correspondent for the UK’s Daily Mail, editor of a monthly publication for British visitors to Florida, has written for the Ladies’ Home Journal, the Daily Telegraph, Hello!, Woman, Woman’s Own, the BBC’s Vegetarian and Good Food Magazine, Slimming, Real Homesnd Take-a-Break.

She now lives in the beautiful English county of East Sussex with husband, John, another veteran journalist and European editor of a mass-circulation US-based newspaper group.


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