chris allen

Meeting Chris Allen

On Monday night, we held our first online TBYL Event, where we had a chance to chat with author Chris Allen. It was entertaining and informative, a fabulous insight into writing, reading and living an adventurous life.

Here’s how it happened…

TBYL: To start with… the links between yourself, your career and your writing absolutely fascinate me. Could you tell us a little more about how you came to writing, and the relationship that your work has with the stories that you tell?

Chris Allen Typing

Chris: Great question. It’s one of those chicken/egg scenarios I think. I’ve wanted to write from about the age of 14 or 15. I loved action movies and TV shows, obviously the Bond films became my favourites but back then you had to wait for them to be on TV rather than just going out and hiring the (dare I say it) video! So, the only real option for me was to find the books to read in between waiting for Bond movies to appear on TV. As soon as I read Ian Fleming’s ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ – it was in the school library – I was hooked. Then it was a matter of wanting to lead a life that would enable me to write my own stories and one thing led to another…

TBYL: Do you think you would have been able to write the stories that you have without the real-life experiences that you’ve had?

Chris: There are many great authors – past & present – who have not actually led the lives of their protagonists yet they still manage to write fantastic stories. The crux of the issue is that people want to be entertained by the story. The ability to achieve that, the process of conveying the story is different for every writer. In my case, I was eager to get out and see the world and have some adventures of my own with the intent to write about it all at some point. In my case, as an errant teenager, anything I tried to write back then was just drivel. So, I think it was best that I waited for a while. As it turned out, I ended up getting my first book published when I was about the same age that Ian Fleming was when he had Casino Royale published.

TBYL: Did you ever find yourself in the middle of a place, event, adventure and thinking ‘wow, this’ll be a good story’?

Chris: Occasionally I did found myself saying ‘If I live through this I may just write about it!’

TBYL: Your characters are very likeable or loathsome, well developed and stay with you once you’ve finished reading the books. How do you go about building such a believable cast?

Chris: Thanks so much. I’m thrilled to hear that reaction. There are two sides to this. Firstly, I base my principal characters i.e. Alex Morgan and his compadres, on people I actually know very well. For the most part, these are people with whom I’m still very closely connected. So, its easy for me to describe them as they are – as you say, likeable and real. In terms of the loathsome creatures who from time to time inhabit my pages, I’ve also based some of them on people I have personal experience of. Of course, the antagonists really need to be, in my opinion, larger than life. So, I tend to draw of characteristics, attitudes or behaviours I seen in others that I don’t like and then infuse them into the larger than life evil-types who Morgan has to deal with.

TBYL: What do your friends think about being committed to page (the good guys I mean)?

Chris: I think the guys secretly love it, although they do like to chastise me a bit for taking liberties. That said, they’re always keen to tell anyone who’ll listen that they’re the inspiration for this character or that one. It’s funny.

TBYL: How you do set yourself apart from other action and adventure writers?

Chris: Phew! How do I answer that one? I guess, in a contemporary sense, what I’m trying to do with my Intrepid series is write stories that are (I hope) reminiscent of the stories I grew up on while giving them a new edge. Someone recently described my books ‘like an old friend with new stories’ and that really captured it for me. While I want to keep the books as real as possible, I don’t want to be writing training manuals. So, it’s important for me to also maintain the escapism.For example, there are plenty of books out there about the CIA, the FBI, Secret Service, Mossad etc etc but I want readers to be excited about something completely new… a truly international agency that serves the world community, not just one country. That’s why I cam up with Intrepid.

TBYL: I assume that’s why your take your reader to a new location almost every new chapter?

Chris Allen ClovellyChris: Yeah, I like to keep the reader on their toes! It’s important to not only keep the pages moving but, wherever possible, I like to catapult the reader through the chapters. Taking people around the world while they’re sitting on a bus or train immediately gives them that sense of escape. That’s what I enjoy so much about my favourite books. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve missed their train stop on the way to and from work. I love that!

TBYL: Personally, I really like the fact that although your stories are rich with detail, they’re not heavy with ‘specs’. Is this choice to avoid micro-detailed descriptions of weaponry/strategy/etc deliberate?

Chris: You’re spot on about the specs and weaponry. I believe in giving the reader just enough to enable them to make sense of those things so that they can continue to enjoy the story rather than leaving them qualified to actually operate the gear!

TBYL: At about the time of Hunter’s publication, you struck up a new friendship with Momentum Books. Can you tell us a little about this? How are you finding the digital publishing industry?

Chris: I’ve been really fortunate to have found a great publisher to work with on Defender and Hunter. Joel Naoum is the publisher who runs Momentum and it was clear to me right from the outset that he got where I was coming from – the whole ‘old-school meets new-school’ approach I’m taking with the books. So, it made complete sense for me to partner with Momentum under Joel’s stewardship. I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Digital publishing is absolutely the future. That said, there are still huge sections of the reading community around the world who prefer to read from the printed/paper page and in my view, as an author you have to address that if you want your work to be read by as many people as possible. After all, if you’re a rock band and you know that half of your potential market still listens to music on vinyl, you’re not going to limit your latest album just to CD or digital. You’re going to get vinyl LPs pressed too! That’s certainly my approach anyway!

TBYL: So what about you? Do you have a preference when you’re reading?

Chris: I fall right in the middle – I love my kindle and it’s full of my old and new favourites, but I still like to pick up a paper book and settle in for a read! The stories are everything. I have all of Conan Doyle’s stories in paperback and eBook. Can’t get enough. In fact it’s much easier to read the full Sherlock Holmes compendium on my kindle than carting around a paperback the size and weight of an average house brick!

TBYL: Do you have plans for Intrepid 3 yet? What can you tell us?

Chris: Ah ha! THE question  Well, I am currently writing the third Alex Morgan adventure which, those of you who’ve read HUNTER will know, is called AVENGER. I don’t want to spoil it by letting on too much but I can assure you that I will be delving much more into Alex Morgan. A lot of readers have told me that they want to know more about him, so I’m really enjoying bringing Alex to life, exploring him as a man not just a secret agent.

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I must extend a huge thank-you to Chris, Sarah and Momentum Books for helping make Intrepid Month happen. I had a fantastic time, and I hope you’ve all been adequately tempted to pick up one of Chris’ books! You wont be disappointed…

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Intrepid Month and the Ten Elements of a Cracking Thriller

As you know, I’m incredibly excited about Intrepid Month being held at TBYL during June. It’s a great chance for us to enjoy some real action-packed reading, from the exciting Chris Allen and his Intrepid series. You can find out more here… but essentially, you’re invited to read either one or both of Chris’ novels Defender, or Hunter and discuss them with us on Facebook, in the last week of June.

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There will also be a chance to chat with Chris on Monday, 24 June 2013, again on Facebook. You’ll find details of the event here… it’s free, online, and promises to be great fun!

As part of Intrepid month, I thought it might be interesting to find out what the man himself thinks goes into the making of a great action/adventure novel, and so today, from the desk of Chris Allen I bring you the Ten Elements of a Cracking Thriller…

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I’ve got to tell you how particularly chuffed I am that it’s Intrepid Month right now at That Book You Like.

The act of writing stories can be less than glamorous – it’s more endless cups of tea and crumbs piling up on the keyboard in a darkened room (aka my writing mancave) than back-to-back launches and book signings with pen poised and a glass of red by my side. So, an entire month that celebrates the fruits of my humble artistic toils through a group Book Club read and Facebook chat is very welcome indeed!

Those days when I am holed up in the mancave, churning out chapters of the latest Alex Morgan espionage adventure as fast as my clumsy two-finger typing skills can manage, I’m not consciously thinking about what makes a cracking thriller. It’s creating my own mix of preferred reading and viewing tastes, past experiences, a reasonable dash of instinct, and an intense need to extract the story from my head and get it onto the page. Then, of course everything is honed during the editing process with my publisher.

Once the books are put out into the world, there does seem – on reflection – to be some shared elements I recognise between my work and those of the other thriller writers I have grown up enjoying.

So, here’s ten elements of a cracking thriller that are important to me when crafting or getting into a new action & adventure yarn. I wonder if you enjoy these or different tactics when you’re getting into a story?

1. A plot that keeps you guessing
The plot has to keep you going at a micro and macro level. I like to write and read stories that keep the narrative moving ahead quickly. Before you know it, you’re well and truly committed to the story because the author has you hooked from the outset.

chris allen new2. Action that compels you to keep reading
You’ve got to need to keep the pages turning. When I hear that someone has missed their train stop or their bus because too busy reading what Alex Morgan is up to, then my job is done. I love to read books that can achieve that for me, too! The idea is to keep the forward movement of the action as relentless as possible. The reader should be almost out of breath at the end of a major action sequence.

3. Characters that you care about
This is something that I am exploring as I immerse myself into the Alex Morgan series. I’d like to let my readers know more about Morgan and other principle characters. There are many writers who are great at this in the action/adventure arena – including my favourites – Fleming, Conan Doyle, Maclean, Higgins, Cussler. Of course, including a little beguiling love interest in each story doesn’t harm the reading experience either.

4. Enough realism to make you wonder, enough escapism to help you forget  
I like stories that make you think, ‘maybe this has really happened’.  For instance, when I created the fictional agency Intrepid, I wanted to give it a sense of real world gravitas but setting it within Interpol, while adding the connection to other major international agencies such as the UN Security Council. In truth the two are not connected but it’s not a stretch to believe that they are, and it also adds a sense of scale to the grand narrative I’m constructing across the series.

5. Enjoyable the second time around
The proof is in the pudding when it comes to great books. You know, the ones that are your favourites because you keep going back to re-read them time and again? I have my favourite stories that I return to and in years to come, I hope to provide that experience for my own readers. Ideally, the aim is to have people enjoy it enough to put a copy on their bookshelf – which is an achievement in an age of eReaders.

6. Classic but contemporary
In my view, the more that an action writer can make something that’s been made a thousand times over seem new and fresh, then the closer you are to achieving that balance between classic and contemporary. Provide the reader with a familiar setting but give them completely new characters and stories to enjoy.

7. Not so much about mass carnage
One thing I’m learning – and it’s a significant lesson – is that readers need more from their characters than their plots. Movies can easily deal with carnage and death on a mass scale, but finding innovative ways for both protagonist and antagonist to outwit each other on the page – in the classic good vs evil struggle – is a complex process. Readers need to be stimulated to be engaged, otherwise they’ll just skipping over the pages until they find a bit that draws them back in. And, if that takes too long, you’ll lose them.

8. An ass-kicking pace
You’ve probably guessed by now, I love action stories. I grew up on them, I’ve read hundreds of them and now I write them. To me, the ultimate adventure is fast paced and furious from beginning to end, but that doesn’t have to just be about the action. The narrative overall must be the literary equivalent pushing a large boulder over the crest of a steep hill. Nothing is going to stop it as it gathers speed and momentum every inch of the way until it comes crashing to a stop at the base of the hill, leaving nothing but anticipation of more to come.

Hunter9. The power to take you places
As a boy my favourite writers transported me from Rossmoyne, our sleepy little corner of Perth, and with the flick of a page landed me on foreign shores in the midst of incredible adventures. I’ve always loved that about books because our imagination drives our experience of the story. It’s up to the author to provide you with the prompts and triggers to enhance that experience.

10. Flawed characters
We can’t all be perfect, and especially not our heroes. There needs to be some level of mystery and uncertainty about our protagonist. We expect the villains to be flawed but writers can focus too much on the baddies while keeping the hero on a pedestal.  I’ve become conscious of this as a writer. Heroes must be at their core, human beings and their lives, attitudes and actions need depth and context. If I can be as objective as possible, sometimes Alex Morgan is so firmly established in my mind’s eye, I have a tendency to allow the baddies live more on the page.  That’s all about to change in Avenger…

What are your thoughts? What’s important when you’re reading a story? I’ll be taking your questions in a live Facebook Chat on Monday 24 June from 7.30pm AEST so would love to get your feedback then. Or leave a comment below and we might reference and discuss it on the night!

Interested to get reading? Here’s how you can also get involved in the Book Club read, Defender & Hunter, for Intrepid month.

About the author:
While penning his Alex Morgan espionage series, Chris saw the world from under a parachute; made a difference in East Timor; protected Sydney’s iconic sails post 9/11; and most recently, held one of the most historic offices in Australia as Sheriff of NSW. Since self-publishing and being signed by Pan Macmillan Australia’s digital imprint Momentum for a two-book deal, Defender and Hunter have wowed readers worldwide, with Avenger due out soon and a film/TV franchise underway.

You can say g’day to Chris at www.facebook.com/intrepidallen or www.twitter.com/intrepidallen, and Chris blogs about all things thriller as well as indulging his love of cult TV shows and movies at www.intrepidallen.com/blog.

Buy Defender eBook on Amazon: http://buff.ly/16PjHQr 
Buy Hunter eBook on Amazon: http://buff.ly/185ZENL 

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Out Now! TBYL News: All Things Bookish June 2013

An adventure packed edition of TBYL News: All Things Bookish… this month – new events coming up, competitions, new books in store!

chris allen 2012TBYL News is a great way to catch up on recent reviews, upcoming news and words from my lovely special guests.

This month you can catch up on what happened at last month’s “The Next Step”, you’ll find a chance to win a great book from Allen and Unwin, and you can read all about our next TBYL Event, an online chat with the wonderful Chris Allen.

Click here to read TBYL News: All Things Bookish… June 2013

If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter, you can click here. This’ll mean that you get our monthly news by email, on the first Monday of the month. Perfect!

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TBYL Book Club, so much on!

The May TBYL Book Club kicks off today and I’d love to hear what you think on our theme for the month.

Of course, normally we read and discuss a single book, but this month I thought in keeping with the month of Mothers’ Day that we could have a conversation about Mums and Books. About our favourite storybook mums and about books that remind us of our mum, or other significant women in our lives.

20130527-094434.jpgI’m going to post our first conversation-starter on Facebook NOW! Pop on over, like us, and join in the conversation. You’ll be able to recognise the book club conversations, as they’ll be proceeded with {TBYL Book Club}.

I’ll keep asking questions until Wednesday evening, and hopefully the conversations will grow from there. Please feel free to contribute your answers and questions as you’d like.

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Also, I’m thrilled to be able to announce details about our June TBYL Book Club!

June at That Book You Like… will be Intrepid Month, during which we’ll enjoy the first two instalments in Chris Allen’s Intrepid Series, Defender and Hunter.

Who’s up for some action?!

At the beginning of 2012 I was lucky enough to read Defender, the first in the Intrepid series by author, Chris Allen. I was immediately drawn into the world of Intrepid agent, Alex Morgan, hard-hitting and action packed, I enjoyed every page. It was followed up by Hunter (Momentum), a new Alex Morgan story which was fantastically international, intricate in its detail and cast with a range of beautifully developed characters, all with their own missions and methods of achieving them.

HunterAlex Morgan – policeman, soldier and spy for Intrepid, the black ops division of Interpol – is on the hunt for Serbian war criminals. But these guys were never going to let it be that simple. An assassination attempt is made on the presiding judge of the international tribunal. Days later, the judge’s daughter, the famous and beautiful classical pianist Charlotte Rose, vanishes in mysterious circumstances.

The girl is not just a pretty face and the daughter of a judge, however. She’s also the goddaughter of Intrepid’s veteran commander, General Davenport. It’s up to Morgan and the Intrepid team to track the kidnappers and the missing woman before the very fabric of international justice is picked apart at its fraying edges.

Part James Bond and part Jason Bourne, Alex Morgan must walk the line between doing the right thing and getting the job done. And this time he’s got permission to make it personal.

I’m very excited to announce that this month’s book club will discuss both Defender and Hunter. You’re invited to read one or both, and join in the conversation in the week starting 24 June 2013.

To purchase copies of the books, you can click here for Defender (an ebook) or shop here at the TBYL Store for Hunter. Don’t miss out on this incredible adventure.

To make Intrepid Month even more immersive, I’m excited to be able to holding our next TBYL Event online. “Meet Chris and Alex” will be an online chat with Intrepid author, Chris Allen. Chris will be chatting on the TBYL Facebook page on the evening of Monday, 24 June 2013. Join us at 7:30pm to ask Chris questions, and get involved in what’s bound to be a fascinating discussion.

It’s free, online and a great opportunity to find out a little more about Chris, about his character Alex Morgan, and maybe even a few secrets about what’s next for the Intrepid series. You don’t have to book, but if you’d like to RSVP please do so here…

I hope you’ll join us!

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Watch out, he’s back! Hunter…

At the beginning of 2012 I was lucky enough to be introduced to Defender, the first in the Intrepid series by author, Chris Allen. I was immediately drawn into the world of Intrepid agent, Alex Morgan, hard-hitting and action packed, I enjoyed every page. You can read my original review here, but let me just say, I’ve been hanging out ever since for the release of the second instalment, Hunter: Intrepid 2.

A lot has happened for Chris and his crew since his first release, not the least of which was the building of an exciting relationship between Chris and Pan Macmillan’s digital-only publishing arm, Momentum. A match made in heaven, this pairing has meant that Hunter has been brought to us with great gusto and in a fantastic digital format.

HunterI’ve been reading Hunter over the last couple of days, and I’ve found it hard to put it down. Right from the get-go it’s firing on all cylinders…

His orders are simple: ‘The safety catch is off. Return that girl to her family and drag those bastards back to justice. Dead or alive. It makes no difference to me.’

Alex Morgan – policeman, soldier and spy for Intrepid, the black ops division of Interpol – is on the hunt for Serbian war criminals. But these guys were never going to let it be that simple. An assassination attempt is made on the presiding judge of the international tribunal. Days later, the judge’s daughter, the famous and beautiful classical pianist Charlotte Rose, vanishes in mysterious circumstances.

The girl is not just a pretty face and the daughter of a judge, however. She’s also the goddaughter of Intrepid’s veteran commander, General Davenport. It’s up to Morgan and the Intrepid team to track the kidnappers and the missing woman before the very fabric of international justice is picked apart at its fraying edges.

Part James Bond and part Jason Bourne, Alex Morgan must walk the line between doing the right thing and getting the job done. And this time he’s got permission to make it personal.

It’s fantastically international, intricate in its detail and cast with a range of beautifully developed characters, all with their own missions and methods of achieving them.

One of the things that strikes me the most about Chris’ work is that it is incredibly authentic, clearly very well researched, but at the same time avoids the trap of tedium that some highly detailed ‘action’ titles can fall into. At all times, the balance between fact and adventure is maintained superbly meaning that the story is punchy, compelling and always entertaining.

I’ve only one problem now…

I have to wait until next year for Intrepid 3!

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Chris Allen, author of the Intrepid series has been having a browse at the TBYL Store and put together a shopping list!

5 things I like from the TBYL Store, who I’d give them to and why!

Curses and Blessings for All Occasions, by Bradley Trevor Greive… I admit to being very biased here because I know the author well and he is a great fella. However, despite my bias, this is an incredibly funny book. It is a must for anybody you know who deserves the escape and immense enjoyment of this page-by-page indulgence. This one is particularly suited to my wife Sarah who I’ve often found, on many occasions, giggling mischievously to herself as she discovers yet another favourite among BTG’s plethora of hilarious anecdotes.  In addition, there’s an incredible history behind each and every illustration. Not to be missed.

Haunted Pendant Small2pm Haunted Small Pendant (1″)… There’s something very dark about this.  I don’t know what it is that drew me to this piece but whatever it was it has succeeded in piquing my interest.  There are a couple of people I have in mind for this. Suffice to say I think this gift would be more suited to a fan of, say, ‘A turn of the screw’ than the Twilight series.

Happythoughts are Everywhere by Nicky Johnston… The thing that attracted me immediately to this book for kids was title followed immediately by the cover. We have a couple of great friends who are parents to three incredible little boys. I can say this now because Sarah and I have two little boys and boys are an absolute handful. When I saw this cover I immediately pictured the dad sneaking away for a quiet moment of solace under one of his boys’ beds having commandeered some toys. Although, in reality it is in fact the mum who would be in much greater need – and much more deserving – of the escape!

Diary of a Penguin-Napper by Sally Harris… I absolutely love the premise of this book especially the fact that the young hero would do anything to impress the girl of his dreams. I want this book for my two boys! Enough said!

Casino-Royale-200Casino Royale by Ian Fleming… It is absolutely no secret that I am a huge fan of Ian Fleming. With the recent release of Skyfall there’s been more than enough discussion of James Bond of late. However, I am duty bound to explain my reason for jumping on the bandwagon. It’s a sad fact that only truly die-hard Fleming fans or those who have read at least one if not some of his books can genuinely attest to his incredible mastery of story telling within the modern thriller context. I would offer this book as a gift to any reader of action thrillers whose only experience of 007 is via the movies. Casino Royale is a timeless classic of the genre, evidenced by the superb cinematic realisation in 2006 of the story first published in 1953. My love of reading was ignited by Fleming’s writing and he left such an impression on me that I can also unequivocally trace my determination to become a successful published author back to his books. 

Feel free to have a browse around the TBYL Store yourself… you can shop here!
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You can pick up a copy of Hunter: Intrepid 2 at the Intrepid website, and if you’d like to check out some other exciting Momentum titles, take a look at their website here.  

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Defender of the Faith, go along for the ride

I’m pleased to report that this weekend I finally got hold of the ipad for long enough to finish reading Chris Allen’s Defender of the Faith. A Sunday well spent, I bunkered down in my reading chair and finished off this action-packed INTREPID adventure. After a day of reading, a flat ipad battery, and a wild literary ride on boat, and car and chopper…through Africa, London and the streets of Sydney, I was left gasping for breath and wanting more…

Defender of the Faith is the story of INTREPID agent, Alex Morgan as he works to unravel a web of corruption and greed. It’s his job to uncover those pulling the strings of a deadly coup in Malfajiri and to bring them to account. He does this with brawn and brains, and the promise of beer. Of course, whilst busy fighting rebel soldiers and repeatedly cheating death, Morgan still has time to attract the lovely Arena Hall. Their resulting affair creates solace for the couple, in a recuperative Spanish villa no less, but it also threatens to compromise Alex’s mission, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

The novel is wonderfully authentic, nicely paced, it contains plenty of detail and just the right ratio of plot-to-action. The character of Morgan is also quite interesting. At first he seems your standard-issue operative, one part renaissance man, one part action hero. There’s no doubt, there is that to him – he’s unbreakable, he’s clever, and he’s quite the lady’s man. But interestingly, he’s also a bit more than that. I was struck by the character’s morality, his sense of doing right and defending the innocent. This really makes Alex Morgan stand out, both against the crooked adversaries that he faces off with, but also when he’s compared to other ‘James Bond’ type characters – he’s a new breed of hero.

Now, I was really lucky to be able fire off five quick questions to the author of this exciting novel. In his own words, here’s what Chris Allen had to say about his debut novel:

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As a new author, can you tell us how it is you came to write fiction? It’s quite a departure from your ‘day-job’ – why the shift?

I’ve always wanted to write, from the time I was a boy, but I was never one of those kids who was drawn to the theory of it. I just wanted to write – my way. Most importantly, I have always wanted to write action thrillers. I think I learned most of the craft from reading the works of my favourite writers: Ian Fleming, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alistair Maclean, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth and Clive Cussler. Of course, to be in their league I felt I needed to experience the things I wanted to write about first hand.  So, one thing led to another, and a career within the military, humanitarian aid and law enforcement environments beckoned.  While I watched with great interest (and envy) the successes of great contemporary Australian writers in the action/crime space, like Matthew Reilly, Tara Moss etc, in my case, I had to get to a point where I felt I was ready to put pen to paper and write the style of thriller I’d always hoped to. It took many years, but I’m finally there.


How did the character of Alex Morgan come about? He’s such an intriguing, down-to-earth yet exceptional operator…

www.defenderofthefaith.com.au

Well, Alex Morgan is an interesting guy. He was originally to be styled around the fictional favourites of my childhood, like James Bond, Napoleon Solo (from ‘The Man from UNCLE’), Dirk Pitt, and Bodie (from ‘The Professionals’), and to an extent he still is.  But, with the benefit of real experience, Alex Morgan became much more.  As you see him now, Morgan is a hybrid of a select few, very  real people; friends and colleagues whom I have had the great privilege of knowing and serving with over many years.  While I have loosely used myself as his foundation, I have extracted various skills, experiences and character traits from three or four friends to really give him the gritty, down-to-earth realism that you find on the page.  People who do the kind of work that I’ve attributed to my INTREPID agents, can’t afford to be superficial, self obsessed loners. They have at their core a sense of service, loyalty and obligation that can only be built amongst comrades.


Clearly you know your stuff, evidenced by the amazing details included throughout this adventure…how much, if at all, did your military experience inform Defender of the Faith?

My time as an Army Officer definitely provided the basis for what I would eventually create within the characters and storyline for Defender.  I spent time on attachments to other armies and worked alongside soldiers from at least a dozen different countries.  I served in Europe, Africa, Central America and South East Asia.  But, my service hasn’t all been in the military. Mid-way through my time in the Army, I took a brief sabbatical to serve with the Australian Federal Police. Years later, when I eventually left the Army due to injury, I served with an international humanitarian aid agency in East Timor at the height of the intervention mission in late 1999. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, my career has been predominantly within the Government protective security arena. Fortunately, I also have an incredible group of very close friends, many of whom have made expert contributions to my work to ensure that I kept every detail as accurate as possible!

So, over almost thirty years, I’m accumulated a quite diverse range of skills and experiences, all of which led to the creation of INTREPID and, most importantly, Alex Morgan.


When you’ve got a minute or two to put your feet up and have a read, what do you pick-up off the bookshelf?

Honestly, when I want to completely escape and go back to something that is totally familiar and entertaining, I can’t go past the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories.  Otherwise, I try to read current authors, both established and emerging, mainly within the action/crime space and these days, I do most of my reading via my Kindle.  If I’m finding it too hard to get to a book, then I’ll have an audio book in the car.


What’s next? Will we see more of Morgan or something new?

I am absolutely committed to writing a series of Alex Morgan/INTREPID adventures.  I’m in the midst of writing Book 2 right now and I’m loving it, but there are times when I get really frustrated that my two-fingered typing is slowing me down while the ideas are trying to pour out of me, especially when I’m writing an action sequence! Meanwhile, there is serious interest and discussion at the moment from a number of people over the possibility of a Defender film. In my view, Alex Morgan & INTREPID presents an unprecedented opportunity to launch a uniquely Australian action hero into the contemporary international context.

***

I for one would pay good money to see that film, and equally, I’m eagerly awaiting the next INTREPID instalment. In the meantime, I’ll have to make do with an action-filled re-read of a few choice chapters:

“Morgan chanced a look back towards the rebels. They were everywhere, their rounds biting into the dirt at his feet. The distinctive crack of high-velocity ammunition pierced the air, inches from his face. Morgan expected that at any second he would feel the unmistakable thump and burn of the bullet that would find him. It was inevitable. A quick death was preferred, but unlikely, especially if he was still alive when the rebels reached him”

If you like a fast-paced, authentic read, you’ll love this book. If you’re still not convinced you can sample the first 12 chapters for free, available at the Defender of the Faith website. Also, you can pick up a copy of the book over on the website too, paper or ebook. Well worth a look.

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Skipping and jumping through my reading pile

I love the Summer break, if for no other reason than that is allows for a little extra reading time. There is nothing quite as nice as sitting in my reading chair, air-conditioner on, kids otherwise occupied, getting neck-deep in one fictional adventure or another.

Interestingly, this holiday’s reading has taken shape a little differently than usual. Somewhat uncharacteristically for me, this extra time to read over the break has seen me skipping and jumping from one book to another, dipping in and out of a number of different novels in turn. This might sound infuriating to some, but in some strange way it seems to be working for me at the moment – the books are so different from each other, meaning that I can pick the particular story that fits my mood, and then swap to something more serious/adventurous/humorous when I feel like it.

And so, I thought I’d give you a quick run down on the books I’m flicking between…

My main book at the moment is Defender of the Faith, by Chris Allen. I’ve talked about this one before, here and I’m now making some real head-way into the exciting novel.

Very soon, I’ll be having a bit of a catch up with the author of this action-packed thriller, and I’ll let you in on the behind-the-scenes of this book. I’ll follow this closely with my review and another chance to win a copy for yourself. If you’re curious to check out this book, you can actually get a copy of the first twelve chapters of the novel for FREE! Check it out here.

The next title is a re-read, and it’s a particularly important one for me because it’s the TBYL Book Club’s book for January. I’m re-visiting Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy, and putting together some ideas for our discussion about the book at the end of the month…questions and talking-points that should get some good conversations going. I’ve talked to a few people who’ve just finished this novella, and they seem to have been quite moved by this rattler of a book. You can join the TBYL Book Club here, and buy the book here.

The next couple of books are, for me, something quite different (again). They’re two youth fiction novels, one of which I’ve been able to share with my eleven-year old son.

Firstly, is Glow, by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Pan MacMillan). A dystopian tale of space travel, romance and survival, this story for older teens seems to have been well constructed, nicely told, and set well to establish an engaging, ongoing series.

I’ve almost finished this book (it’s a quick read) so I’ll review it early next week.

Next is Andrew Lane’s Young Sherlock Holmes – Fire Storm (Pan MacMillan). The forth in the Young Sherlock series, this novel is suitable for 11+ year olds and so, rather than have it sit ideal until I had a chance to read it, I had my son Evan read it first.

He seemed pretty impressed, read it pretty veraciously and has now gone a bit crazy for all things Sherlock. I’m looking forward to reading this, I’d expect it wont take me too long to get through and it’s nicely timed given the revival of Sherlock on big screen and small.

On a more serious note, the book that I’m reading for my (off line) book club at the moment is horribly haunting. The group has agreed to read We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver for our next catch-up and it’s hard going. There is a lot of talk at the moment about this disturbing story, due to the release of it’s film version.

A mother’s story, telling what it is to face absolute and undeniable shame and horror in your own child, this book has been ominous from the outset, and I’ve no doubt it’s only going to get tougher.

Lastly, I’ve a most luscious-looking novel in the reading pile, taunting me to start reading it. I’m resisting until I get through Of a Boy, but then it’ll be time to delve into Makeda, by Prue Sobers.

This story promises to take me on an Ethiopian adventure, travelling with the beautiful and spirited Makeda, the Queen of Sheba. Romance, intrigue, and royalty, it has it all.

Keep an eye out, I’ve a couple of signed copies to give away later this month!

It’s quite a list I know, and my head is spinning a little bit. But it’s spinning in the nicest possible way, as I skip from war-torn Africa, to suburban Sydney to the depths of outer space, I’m enjoying the narratives, the diary-entries, and the dramatisation of these compelling adventures. What better way to spend a Summer?!

I hope you’re having a chance to have a bit of read, and don’t forget, it’s not too late to sign up for this month’s TBYL Book Club…we’d love for you to join in!

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Your summer reading sorted, winner!

I’m pleased to announce, that Steph L is the winner of That Book You Like’s December give-away.  Steph, I hope you’ll enjoy your e-copy of Chris Allen’s Defender of the Faith.

Just email me your details (email address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Saturday, 24.12.11 and arrangements will be made! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 27.12.11

Again, thanks so much to everyone for joining in the fun and don’t forget to follow my blog around on Facebook  and  Twitter.

December give-away: Summer action

Having enjoyed and reviewed a wonderfully wide range of books in 2011, I’m finishing the year off with some summer action. I’ve just started reading Chris Allen’s action thriller Defender of the Faith and I’m completely sucked in. I can’t wait to have a bit of extra reading time over the Chrissy break to really get into this well constructed, very compelling adventure.

“A British agent is brutally murdered, a President is in danger and the fate of the small West African nation, Malfajiri, lies in the balance.

Enter Alex Morgan, the new star agent of INTERPOL’s ‘Intelligence, Recovery, Protection & Infiltration Division’: INTREPID. Part-policeman, part-soldier, part-spy, Morgan and his fellow INTREPID operatives are the faceless, unassailable strangers among us; serving the world and operating beyond the influence of the most powerful nations.

In Defender of the Faith, Alex Morgan is sent on his first solo mission to hunt down the source of soviet surplus weapons haemorrhaging into Africa and Asia, but gets more than he bargained for, unraveling a complex web of deceit with links to the very heart of the British diplomatic community.

A heart-pounding, no-holds-barred chase, spanning the dark continent of Africa to the crystalline waters of Sydney, culminates in a fight to the end to stop vicious renegade intelligence officer Victor Lundt and uncover the ultimate power behind him.

If only Morgan can stay alive long enough to bring them all to justice.”

I’m thinking that this novel will take me through to the end of the year, and so I’ll post my review of the book early in the new year. In the meantime, you’ve got a chance to win a copy of the e-book (for Kindle).

To go into the running to win, all you have to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post, or

2. Visit That Book You Like‘s Facebook page

…and tell us about your reading plans for the Christmas/Summer break.

The winner of this month’s competition (selected at random) will receive a free e-copy of Defender of the Faith.

Entries close Monday, 19 December 2011. The winner will have four days to claim their prize, or a redraw will be held.

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Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Reading in five different directions

I’m not entirely sure how it’s happened, but I’ve got five different books on the go at the moment and my mind is boggling a little bit. For that reason, I’m going to put some time aside this evening and try and put a fair dent in my reading pile.

As such, rather than a review this evening, I thought I’d give you a quick run down on the books I’m flicking between…

First up is Last Chance Cafe, by Liz Byrski. This is my ‘main book’ at the moment, and it was recommended to me by Linda at Kidna Books. I’m nearing the end of this book, and I’m finding it hard to put down (another reason to have a reading night tonight). It’s very nearly soap-opera-like, but much more skilfully put together than a simple melodrama. The characters are fallible but inherently likeable and I’m most definitely feeling the marked ups and downs of this close-knit group of family and friends. It brings to mind those times in life when one thing after another manages to go a bit pear-shaped. Stay tuned for a full review next week.

Next is The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas and I’ve got to have this read by mid November. My book club and I agreed to jump on the bandwagon and read this book while the tele-series is on the ABC. I’m pretty sure a synopsis is unnecessary, but you can find out more about this book here if you’ve not heard about it. I am fairly sure I’m not exactly going to enjoy this story but I’m looking forward to experiencing first hand the obvious talent of Tsiolkas. Also, I’ll be pleased to be able to say when asked, that I’ve read it. I’m going to hold off on watching the series until I’ve read the book, so I’d better get a move on I suppose…

I’ve got a couple of books loaded up on the Kindle at the moment, the first of which is Die Yummy Mummy Die, by Allison Rushby. This compilation of columns, largely about the ‘joys’ of motherhood were originally published in the Courier-Mail, and have been an interesting little discovery, humorous and insightful. I’m half-way through, it has been great to read while waiting to pick-up kids, at doctors appointments and other idol moments. If you enjoy mummy-bloggers, this book will be right up your ally. I’ll review in November, and you’ll have a chance to win a copy next month.

The second book ready and waiting on my ipad is Defender of the Faith, by Chris Allen. A old-school action novel, this’ll be something a bit different for me (once again). I’m quite excited about starting on this one, I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy it as much as I did The Siren’s Sting, which has quite nicely put me in the mood for intrigue and espionage. It’ll be great to read something from an exciting new Australian author. If you’re curious, you can actually get a copy of the first twelve chapters of the novel for FREE! Check it out here.

Last, but not least, in my physical (and frighteningly tall) reading pile is Foal’s Bread, by Gillian Mears. This has been recommended to me by Allen and Unwin, and it promises to be quite moving. I don’t know a lot about the novel at this stage, but it sounds beautifully Australian and a nice piece of literature, with Gillian Mears’ work having been likened to that of Garner and Grenville. I’ve given myself until the end of November to get to this book, so keep an eye out later next month if you like the sound of Mears’ long awaited novel.

So there is it, now you all know what I’ll be doing with the next month and a half of train trips, waiting rooms and kid-free evenings. No shortage of words to enjoy and I hope you’ll all stay tuned for my take on these many and varied titles.

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