An author without readers is lost, end of story. No author writes a book to stay unread, trust me, there is a burning desire for your books to be read and enjoyed. Especially books like the GMJ Series that have information inside them that is considered important by the author, information that I am told, thank you, changed views and saved life. So, to me, the reader is important. Keeping him (or her) happy though is not in my hands. I can write a good story, do the research, explain my views and ensure that the book is sold at good quality at a reasonable price but that is it. From there on it is outside the author’s hands and it is a rather frightening idea at first, to put some words on paper and let them be read by total strangers. You are totally exposed as a book is very much a creation and extension of yourself, very personal to you and as many authors will tell you, like a child, you don’t have favourites. But that is the rules of the game. Big boy rules, the books must be read and judged on their own in the same way that a child will one day leave the house and take on the world. You can only hope that all goes well.
Where the author has full control over what is said inside his books or what happens to the characters, that ends at publication, thereafter you lose control, an odd feeling. I recall my editor asking me after the Egg Breaker War Series ended with GMJ 5, if a main character would now die in a next book? Never, I feel that the good guys should always win and at times easily. Nothing irritates me more than over-dramatic nonsense, when on operations, if planned properly, and the risks reduced to what is acceptable, the bad guys usually die quickly. Take for instance where an aircraft is stormed during hostage rescues, as I said in Code Name Wrangler, the hostage rescue book, chances are very good that the hijackers will die during the rescue. Hostages may also die, even the rescue team may suffer casualties, but the job will be done. Therefore, I will never kill off any of the main characters, to me, they are like family.
You should keep in mind that I wrote the first GMJ, Code Name VFO565, in 2014, a few months after my wife passed, and as I say in many books, they kept me sane. They took me to a world where I have control, total control, so, no, death becomes those that deserve death in my books but have you notice… it always comes quickly, no unnecessary suffering. That too is not by chance, nothing is in my books or any other that you may read.
I am often asked why I write. Well, I have time to write them. Then I have stories and lastly, the book writes itself. It really takes me less than 3 weeks to write a 400 plus page GMJ Novel. This leaves many awestruck and it should not. I claim no glory, if a man has a gift for writing fast, then the glory surely lies with your Creator that dispensed the gift, not with him. That is the other theme besides the secret codes for my late wife in my books, I always honour the Christian God. Of course, that makes me the prime target for those with other views, they don’t like that, and they react. I have been called everything under the sun and more. Luckily, the first thing you learn as an author to get thick-skinned very quickly. No matter what your intentions or how great you may think your books are, there will always be those that criticize them even when they so obviously did not read the blog, the book or your Facebook posting properly. You learn to reach deep, not to respond because it is impossible to satisfy everyone, I don’t even try. Where I am wrong I rectify my mistakes, apologize, and carry on. Where the accusations are beyond redemption, you see the pattern immediately (a sad experience, I assure you), you block and ignore them. As my late wife said: “You cannot force people to be smart, let them stay fools because that makes them happy!”
I am asked, is this about fame? Do you wish to be famous? No, not the least, I had that already, saw it first hand, and if I wanted to be famous I would write under my own name – there is nothing inside the GMJ Books that can lead to legal troubles, the name has to do with initials. Most certainly my books are not racist, the main characters are almost exclusively non-white because that is what South African Special Forces looked like, 70% black. But the books are conservative, some don’t like that either but as I say I don’t care, I don’t write PC nonsense and I expect the reader to be able to read between the lines, as well as having a sense of humour. Not all is said in earnest, sometimes a man can be called a “Pommy Bastard” with an admiring smile, grownups actually understand this. Others cannot.
I like receiving emails from readers, wherever possible I answer and one of the best was where I formally asked a very senior South African Navy officer permission to use some of their ships on my book covers. The man replied: “George, you sunk my frigate in Code Name Phoenix! You sunk my offshore vessels in Code Name Lise! God will not have mercy with you if I get hold of you damn pongoes! But since you have redeemed yourself somewhat since then, permission is reluctantly granted!” Yep, they love their vessels, the navy lads and would swing if insulted. Then there are those that write and say: “Hey George! The radio played Roxette’s “Dangerous’ and I looked around instantly, very wary. My wife asked what was happening, I replied, that is ‘Angelique’s song!’ By God, be ready to duck! My wife is now a reader too!” Such comments make it worthwhile, and then there are readers that write and quote Bible verses from the books. Once chap wrote how much the following meant to him – he was going through hard times - he read in Code Name Oath 19: “Whatever submarine you can reach first, Pilot, is good for us.” Angelique said softly, holding my gloved hand in hers. “Don’t fret, Psalm 37: ‘Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’”
“I feel good!” I said for the first time, squeezing her hand. “Don’t fret!”
I suppose that is as much a legacy as anything else, all due to the reader, thank you. You are appreciated, always will be. I feel good, I found peace in my books. GMJ