So Terror in the Ranks is quite confrontational in some places. The language, the story, the characters. Where did all that come from? What was your inspiration?
There had been a spate of attacks in France by Islamic-State jihadists, psychopaths, fruit-loops, you name it, and having had such a magical time in France myself a few years ago, I became quite angered and distressed that such a wonderful country could be so damaged. The carnage was so pointless, the victims totally innocent, and the consequences so predictable. This was added to my existing anger at the deliberate and appalling devastation of ancient treasures throughout the Middle East in the name of resetting history for Islamic State’s new era, just like Pol Pot had done in Cambodia and numerous other hard-line despots, delusional imbeciles and self-appointed messiahs over the centuries. Rather than rattling off yet another political polemic to add to the noise however, I figured transposing some of that nastiness closer to home, and stirring it up a bit with some of the home-grown nastiness that raises its ugly head from time to time.
Terror in the Ranks is set in Australia. Why should somebody in – say – the United States be interested?
Being an Australian story isn’t actually that important. I wrote something I reckon most readers will enjoy regardless of where they’re from. Yes, there’s a certain patter in there that’s going to be unfamiliar to some, but there’s no danger of “Crocodile Dundee” Australianisms to defeat readers. Ultimately, the story, the circumstances, and underlying messages have every chance of resonating in the USA, Canada, the UK as much as anywhere else.
What about the language?
I make no apologies for [the protagonist] Aaron being a potty-mouth. He’s bitter and angry, but mix that with devoted and passionate and you have a powder-keg combination that can propel a story better than a Mister-Clean good-guy hero. Ian Fleming knew that well when he created James Bond, but rather than Aaron being a cold-blooded misogynist, I figured his flaws were better being about manners and distaste for authority figures. He actually has a deep and abiding respect and appreciation for women, so is a bit of an opposite to Bond in that respect. I’ve also kept the overall language in a form that’s not difficult for non-Australians to comprehend, and I found it rather fun mixing present-tense first-person for Aaron’s chapters and past-tense third-person narrative for all the other chapters.
There are some pretty big reveals in Terror in the Ranks. What’s your favourite?
Without spoiling anything, my favourite is Australia’s “dirty little secret”, the object of attention by the bad guys. It’s an absurd nonsense of course, but if a reader can suspend that disbelief, the stakes go through the roof.
Are there any strong female characters in the book?
I’d like to think most of the women in the book are strong in their own ways. The book is very masculine – no argument there – but being such doesn’t require subjugating, objectifying or ignoring females. I’m also a bit averse to depicting women strutting around like men in order to paint them as strong. Female strength differs to men’s, and I’m confident I’ve depicted some of that.
Are there any characters based on people you’ve known in real life?
Actually, my antagonist is a distillation of a handful of people I’ve encountered, and then turned up a notch. I’ve known some pretty bad people in my time, so I’ve had a few different sources of inspiration there, and since a thumping good baddie is the measure of any great yarn, I figured putting as much as I could into him was going to help most. Fielding was based on a woman I met many years ago, as was Carlyle. Aaron is any number of characters I’ve come across over the years reading an assortment of books, mixed with the sort of individual I would expect to capably deal with a crisis such as the one depicted in the book.
Do you think there’s room for a sequel or series of books?
It’s not something I deliberately set out to establish, but I wouldn’t say no to the idea. I guess it depends on the market reaction to Terror in the Ranks first.
What else are you working on?
I have some junior fiction (mercifully minus Aaron and his inappropriate language) in the works, with two being looked at by separate publishers at the moment and a third in the running for a publishing prize (if I win, they publish the book) with a third publisher. I’m working on a fifth novel at the moment, which is an historical fiction, also for younger readers. When I’m not writing I’m creating art. I’m always busy.
Terror In The Ranks is a rollicking good read from the first page to the last. You won’t know what hit you – in a good way.
A fast paced thriller depicting the worst that could happen when the ‘monster within’, those already entrenched bigoted, xenophobic forces seize advantage in the growing climate of fear and paranoia that is constantly being fuelled by a very real threat of terrorist atrocities on Australian soil.
Nationalistic forces seize advantage and begin to take power with a well-coordinated first strike designed to effectively decimate Sydney’s police and military forces and destroy government communication networks. They simultaneously target and slaughter Muslim families in a series of brutal murders that strike fear into the entire Muslim community.
But the plan begins to unravel when hard-bitten cop Superintendent Aaron is recruited at the highest level of police hierarchy still functioning. He gathers his resources to halt the carnage and restore order. Along the way he is reunited with Commander Jennifer Fielding and amidst all the violence and bloodshed an old attraction is rekindled. They join forces and soon find they must battle on two fronts with the discovery the treachery has infiltrated the very heart of government.
The reader is left wondering, could this scenario possibly be based in truth masquerading as fiction? With several ‘would be’ ISIS jihadists behind bars in Australia awaiting trial on terrorism related charges the reader begins to wonder, could this home grown threat to Australian democracy actually happen? Or is it fiction after all?
If you love a scary thriller, read Terror in the Ranks. You may not be able to sleep right away but you will love it. I know I did.