Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The New Policeman

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The New Policeman

by Kate Thompson

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2007, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2008, 416 pages

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Kate Thompson was born in England in 1956, the youngest of three children. Her parents were social historians, both writers, and both very active in the peace and anti-nuclear movements during the cold war years. After she left school she worked with racehorses for several years in England and the USA before going to college to study law, which she left after a year to go traveling to India, where she spent the best part of two years. She moved to Ireland in 1981 where she lives with her partner Conor Minogue and their two daughters. She started writing seriously in the late eighties and her first book, a collection of poems, There is Something, was published in 1992.

A year or so later she began to write full length novels, both for children and for adults. Switchers was published in Ireland in 1994, but unfortunately the publishing company went out of business and she was without a publisher for some years. Eventually she landed with Random House in the UK who published Switchers in 1997. Since then she has published about a book a year winning numerous awards including the Children's Book Ireland Book of the Year Award (better known as the CBI Bisto* award) which she has won four times.

Her interest in preserving fairy stories goes deeper than just keeping alive the best of the Irish tales. In an interview in the Guardian newspaper she says, "Children are growing up without the unsanitised fairy stories which are soul maps, and I think they are losing out by not having them .... I'm trying to provide a psychological map, but I don't want to preach. If there's a common thread to my books it is that each involves an individual's journey. The individual must stay true to themselves. It's what the fairies do and that's why the fairy stories are so important."


Souterrains are key to The New Policeman. From the French sous terrain (under ground) these are a type of underground structure believed to date from the Iron Age (pictures). It is thought that the galleries were dug out, lined with stone slabs and then reburied. They do not appear to have been used for burial or ritual purposes so it is believed they may have been storage and hiding places during times of trouble (although many have very obvious entrances which makes it difficult to believe they were hiding places).

*Bisto is a leading maker of gravy products and stock cubes in the UK; the name is often used as a generic for the product group as a whole. Bisto, first produced in 1908, is so named because it "Browns, Seasons and Thickens in One".

This article was originally published in March 2007, and has been updated for the April 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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