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Interview with Liam Saville, author of Predator Strike!

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Tell us about your new book.
Predator Strike is the first book in a new series of short novels, or novellas, featuring Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) Investigator, Captain Sam Ryan. It follows the investigation into the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan. The book revolves around the conspiracy theory that the CIA had Osama bin Laden in custody, in Syria, for years before his reported death in 2011. Personally I’m not usually one for conspiracies, but something about this one resonated with me. It made me ask the question, well, what if it was true, and what might happen if somebody found out? How far would the CIA go to keep the truth hidden, and could that extend to murdering an allied soldier? Right from the beginning of the book the reader knows the answer, so I’m not giving away any spoilers here, but it’s really Ryan’s search for definitive proof, and the answer to these questions that drives the story forward.

Since the book’s release in October 2012 I’ve had a few people, even those in the Australian Defence Force, ask me why I picked such a little known agency as the ADFIS as the vehicle for the book, and the answer is simply because it hasn’t been done before. Military crime is a relatively small sub-genre, and while we’ve all read books about the FBI, Scotland Yard, the LAPD, and other similar civilian policing agencies, we don’t see anywhere near as many stories written about our military policing agencies. Having served in the Australian Army myself, I know that these guys and girls aren’t always the most popular people in the military, but their roles, and the situations they’re faced with, just open up a whole world of possibilities for an author, and I’m very excited about exploring these further with future books in the series.

What genre did you say it was?
Crime / Thriller – with a military twist.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
I hope that Predator Strike will appeal to anybody who is a fan of good crime fiction or military thrillers. Certainly though, there should be plenty in it to entertain readers of the likes of Lee Child, David Baldacci, Mark Abernethy or even Chris Ryan.

What are your ambitions for the series? Your bin Laden idea is so good that we can’t see where you can go next.
I think the one thing that makes the bin Laden idea so strong is that it’s topical.  People can relate to it, and even though the book is total fiction, there’s that element there that makes you think that maybe this could actually have happened. 

In the same sense, there are other things in our current political landscape that capture the attention of the population.  Here in Australia for example, we have a huge debate going on about how the government should handle asylum seekers arriving by boat from our northern neighbours. It’s in all the papers, we’ve set up off-shore processing centres, and we’ve even gone so far as to change our migration zone.  Amongst that barrage of public discussion I came across a small article some months ago, about the arrest of five Indonesian soldiers who were caught facilitating a people smuggling operation.  Like the bin Laden conspiracy it made me ask who else could be involved, and could that involvement extend to a small element in the Royal Australian Navy, and with that the idea the next Sam Ryan investigation was born.

So in answer to your question, for the ongoing series I want to take those topical issues that we see nightly on the news, and that we read about every day in our papers, and weave them into a story that people can relate to.  I want people to ask themselves, could this really have happened?

The books will all be novella length, written specifically for the e-book market, and I hope to be able to release two or possibly three more in the next twelve months.  As for the length of the series, at this stage I don’t know.  I certainly have ideas in my head for several more Sam Ryan novellas, so we’ll just have to wait and see.      

Since he’s going to be around for a long time, we probably should get to know Sam Ryan a bit more. Is he more in the rugged mould a la Jack Reacher or is he the suave James Bond type?
Ryan is a sharp analytical investigator who comes across as being a little rough around the edges.  He’s an officer, and career cop, and he generally respects the chain of command and expects those around him to do the same.  In Predator Strike we also learn that he has a clear sense of right and wrong, and also that he won’t suffer fools.  He’s certainly not physically imposing in the “man mountain” sense that Jack Reacher is, but he does have a bit of mongrel about him, and isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers, or bend the rules when then need bending.  If Ryan was to sit down and have a beer with both Reacher and Bond, I think he’d have a lot more to talk about with Reacher than 007. 

How long did Predator Strike take to write?
The basic idea for the book had been bouncing around in my head for about a year before I started work on it. I was writing another book at the time, and I actually put that project on indefinite hold to start this one. Once I started writing, the first draft came together in about eight weeks, which is actually quite quick for me considering I work full time, and was doing most of my writing on the train going to and from the office, or at home late at night.

What was the most challenging part of your creative process?
Good question. I actually really enjoyed the whole thing, but for me the most challenging part was editing and reviewing the book while also feeling my way through the whole self publishing process. As I said, I wrote the first draft in about eight weeks, but the task of editing and reviewing the book took at least twice as long. When I’m writing my mind tends to goes at a million mile and hour, and once I finished that first draft I immediately wanted to push ahead with the next story. Which is something I could have done if I was only writing for yourself, but as I wanted to publish the book, I had to slow down and take the time to review my work, engage beta readers and editors, design the cover, and all those other things that come with self publishing a book, and that was something I found to be quite challenging.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a definite family man, and I consider myself fortunate to live in Sydney, Australia, with the three most important people in my world, my wife and two kids. I grew up not far from where I currently live, and absolutely love the area. I’m a former member of the Australian Army, and also served for several years as a police officer here in Sydney; a background that certainly helped when it came to doing research for Predator Strike. Currently, I work full time in a regulatory and enforcement role with a public sector agency, and like most parents I spend much of my spare time running around with all my kids sports and extra-curricular activities.

You’re a military man yourself? You versus Sam Ryan – would you kick his ass?
Oh that’s easy, Ryan wins hands down.   I’m a safe family man, and my days of action and adventure are all but a memory. 

Have you got a blog where readers can keep up with your work? Do you use social media?
Not at the moment, but a dedicated website is certainly something I will be working on in the near future. In the meantime anyone that wants to get in touch can find me on Twitter (@lssaville) or on Facebook.

And where can we buy your book?
Predator Strike is available online as an e-book at the IBookstore, Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble, and as an e-book or paperback at Amazon.

What’s next?
I am working on the next book, and hope to have it released in late February 2013.

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3 Comments

  1. Tam Bewer

    Nice interview. I read Predator Strike and really enjoyed it. Was sorry it was only novella length. Will definately read the next book.

  2. Liam Saville

    Thanks Tam, I’m glad you liked the book, it’s nice to get good feedback.

  3. Pingback: Predator Strike « Liam Saville

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