Written by Chris Allen, author of Defender and Hunter.
Growing up, I was always drawn to shows on TV and the big screen that were international in some way, whether it be a mixture of the cast or more specifically, an agency or groups working together on a global scale. I can’t explain why, although it could be because I have a diverse family heritage and grew up on stories of my Welsh grandfather and uncles – one of whom served on Russian trawlers in the Atlantic, or the uncle who was a US marine – both in WWII. These stories and many others stimulated a natural curiosity in me about the world out there, so I guess I was never going to grow up holding onto a local mindset. Considering I grew up in a sleepy riverside suburb in Perth during the 1970’s – it’s no wonder my youthful imagination was enticed further afield.
A couple of the shows I liked very early in life included The Thunderbirds, the whole International Rescue element really appealed to me; and later, the live action series called UFO – which was also created by Gerry Anderson (the creator of The Thunderbirds). UFO featured the international agency SHADO, with everyone aligned to fight the alien invaders! It’s inevitable that when I got older and started putting my thoughts towards creating something, it was going to be at its core international.
When I began writing, I knew my creation would inevitably be influenced by actual events that were occurring at the time and my particular take on how that might influence the context of my stories. I started writing drafts of Defender in the extended aftermath of Sept 11, 2001 – a time when I was in high demand professionally and probably needed a creative outlet. I didn’t want the context of my stories to be military in nature, so I steered away from the obvious choice – the UN and intervention forces – and looked more towards the actual criminal activity so often hidden behind idealistic rhetoric and excuses for terror.
Having decided upon that course of action, but still wanting to unite nation-states together in the grand narrative, I opted to have the UN Security Council approach Interpol so as to join those entities in a fictional sense, despite their quite disparate responsibilities in real life. I achieved this through the creation of Intrepid: Interpol’s black-ops Intelligence, Recovery, Protection and Infiltration Division – raised at the behest of the United Nations.
Having had both military and law enforcement experience and a wide network of friends and colleagues reflecting similar career streams, it hasn’t been a stretch to embed fact within my fiction. The characters I’ve created and am developing for future volumes are all in some way the literary embodiment of those same people with whom I’ve shared professional experiences over past years, and many are a composite of people I’ve served and worked with. The agents are international in flavour – from the Austrian ex-GSG9 character The Key, to the former US Navy Seal Dave Sutherland, to the New Zealand born Chief of Intrepid himself, General Davenport. Of course, Alex Morgan reflects my own heritage in that he’s born of a Welsh father and Australian mother, with service across a number of Commonwealth armies.
My observations of how these various agencies work is that they can both help and hinder co-operation, often with best efforts frustrated by the corruption of misinformation and bureaucracy (my pet hates). I can draw on my own interactions with agencies as much as observations I’ve made or even stories relayed to me by others, combined with my own experiences in the field. At the core of it all, nothing begins without some form of dialogue. The scene must be set and the operational parameters must be established before the agents embark upon their missions. So, I try to provide the reader with some sense of either the orders process – as in General Davenport tasking his agents (Defender), or the process of defining jurisdictional boundaries – as in sorting out ‘who will do what when’ type issues before the agents deploy (Hunter).
When the time comes to create each fictional story, I will draw on an overarching real life issue, such as human trafficking in Avenger – war criminals in Hunter – or gunrunning in Defender, and interlace the fictional plot with real experiences in a way that should, hopefully, enhance the adventure for the reader. I guess they call it writing escapist thrillers for realists. I’m not interested in creating the doomsday catastrophe stories where the world is going to end via destruction on a mass scale, nor am I going to target one particular race or faith through my writing. History consistently shows us that the world is a lot more complicated than that.
So while an agency like Intrepid wouldn’t happen in real life, where the UN sets the agenda for Interpol – all for the greater good – well, that is the entire point. Intrepid is supposed to be escapist, it’s supposed to be fictional and ultimately, it’s supposed to be cool.
About the author:
Before 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. 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 end-2013 and a film franchise underway. Chris dreams of one day spending extended periods of time enjoying an English country cottage in Surrey, preferably one in walking distance from the local pub.
Chris blogs about all things thriller as well as indulging his love of cult TV shows and movies from his youth at www.intrepidallen.com/blog. Or you can say g’day on Facebook at facebook.com/intrepidallen.