Today I’m excited to welcome Chris Allen, creator and author of the Alex Morgan spy thriller INTREPID series, to the CTG blog.
Chris’ latest novel, the second in the INTREPID series, entitled Hunter is out now. What the blurb says: Alex Morgan – policeman, solider 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.
Charlotte isn’t just the daughter of a judge, she’s also the god-daughter of INTREPID’s veteran commander, General Davenport. It’s up to Morgan and the team to track the kidnappers and the missing woman before the very fabric of international justice is picked apart. Alex Morgan must walk the line between doing the right thing and getting the job done.
I found Hunter a rapid-paced, action packed rollercoaster of a story that I think will appeal to those readers that love action thrillers with plenty of real-world details. Knowing that Chris is a writer with first hand experience of action situations, I jumped at the chance to quiz him about creating the series and his writing process.
So, without further ado, I’d like to welcome Chris Allen and kick-off with my first question …
Alex Morgan, the lead character in your INTREPID series, is a no-nonsense, get-things-done kind of guy, what was your inspiration for creating him?
Over the years, since I was a kid, I’ve been influenced by many classic action heroes – all the obvious fictional ones from my early years like James Bond, Simon Templar, John Steed, Napoleon Solo, but my greatest influence by far has always been real-world heroes. I’ve been fortunate enough to know a few personally as well as taking an active interest in the exploits of the acknowledged, decorated variety. As a result, Alex Morgan is a mixture of my favourite fictional and real-world inspirations.
As a serviceman-turned-writer, how have you found the transition from being in the action to writing the action?
My military career came to an end due to injuries I sustained in service; basically, wear & tear brought on my use-by date prematurely. As a result my exit from a very active career as a Paratrooper was imposed on me. So, I had no choice but to change direction.
It was a natural process to then rediscover what my ultimate dream was all along. I’d wanted to write action stories ever since I was old enough to understand them. It took me a couple of years of being out of the Army followed by a deployment to East Timor with an aid agency before I felt ready to start writing. But once I’d started there was no stopping me!
Can you tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events out in advance, or just start writing and see where the story takes you?
Book one in the series, Defender, took me a decade to write and book two, Hunter, was roughly six months, so my writing process has vastly changed. Having a deadline to stick to as well as increased confidence has been a game-changer.
These days I plan a lot in my head and scribble ideas and plot lines in my little brown book. It’s like putting a puzzle together or solving a complex problem. Then, I map the main ideas out on a whiteboard – using sticky notes or just a marker – and then connect the dots, bringing the plots and sub-plots together. I always have my brown book on hand for any other inspirations, as I’m constantly mulling the story over in my mind, examining it from all angles.
Once I have a good picture of where it’s all going, I bash out each chapter as fast as I can to get them on the page! Obviously once the first full draft is out, that’s where the real work begins, but the planning and researching is a huge part of the process for me.
Your books have been likened to those of Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum, but who writes the books that you have on your ‘to read’ pile?
I was really thrilled when I realised people were putting me in their class, it’s a huge accolade and one I will always strive to be more worthy of. Ian Fleming is my literary hero and I love Ludlum’s writing.
There is so much on my TBR pile at the moment, because when I’m writing I try not to indulge my action thriller habit by reading other work. Most of the books on my Kindle at the moment are the new writers I’ve been getting to know through global outreach and online activities as well as my mates on the local Australian authors’ scene. Those that I’ve been looking at before putting the pedal to the metal with Avenger include Aussie writers Greg Barron, Luke Preston, Nathan Farrugia, Nina D’Aleo, Tony Park’s latest and my new Minnesotan pal Doug Dorow. Once the first draft of Avenger is done I’ll also be reading Irish Crime writer Declan Burke and John Le Carre’s latest A Delicate Truth.
And what’s next for you, are you working on the next novel in the INTREPID series and, if so, when will we be able to read it?
Avenger is well and truly underway, and my aim is for it to be even more hard-hitting than the first two. I hope to have Avenger available by the end of 2013, and crack straight into the fourth in the Intrepid series. So, Alex Morgan has his dance card pretty full at the moment.
In addition, I’m working with a Hollywood producer – who just happens to be a very cool guy – on film and TV adaptations of the Alex Morgan/Intrepid series. But that’s about all I can divulge right now!
About the author:
Before penning his Alex Morgan espionage series, featuring the ultra-secret agency Intrepid from Interpol, 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 law enforcement appointments in Australia. Since self-publishing and then 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. Chris dreams of one day spending extended periods at an English country cottage in Surrey, preferably one that is walking distance from the local pub.
A huge thank you to Chris Allen for dropping by the CTG blog and letting me quiz him.
To find out more about his books and the man behind them, hop on over to Chris’ blog where he chats about all things thriller as well as a love of cult TV shows and movies from his youth at www.intrepidallen.com/blog.
[With thanks to Chris Allen and Pan Macmillan Australia, Momentum for my copy of Hunted]