I decided to write a blog about each book in the GMJ Series which I will link to the website under each book. The purpose is to give a bit more background and to tell you what the idea behind the book originally was. I hope it will bring you some answers as I noted that many asked the same question from your emails (and I answer every email, thank you for taking the time). However before I do that, over the coming weeks, I thought it best to first talk in general about the books, I hope you will enjoy reading them – they are great stories based on actual events. I loved writing them for you to enjoy and want them to be read.
I never thought I would write fiction as I am known as a non-fiction writer although it is debatable how far the fiction goes in the GMJ Books. The characters are based on real people I know personally. The historical events in the books did take place. Where the characters mention anything of historical significance it can be traced and researched. If for instance they say that thirty thousand Afrikaner women and children died in British Army concentration camps during the Second Anglo Boer War you may be sure it did happen exactly as described and that the Afrikaner dislikes anything English because of it.
When Winston Churchill is ridiculed by the characters (often) you will find in history that nothing they say is not written in other books already. He did claim to have swum the “Mighty Apies River” when it was all of six feet wide creating a little known joke in South Africa about his self-enhancing claims. He did beg the US for help in both wars and he was of American extract. He did receive top secret dispatches in the nude whilst bathing during his time as First Lord of the Admiralty in the First World War and did indeed walk around nude dictating state letters in both wars. And he was drunk at cabinet meetings much to the disgust of senior army generals who wrote about it in their diaries. This is well documented but not in the normal history books he caused to write about himself, obviously not. In his own history books he came out rather better than what others thought of him then or now.
It is also logical that the characters, who claim a lot of knowledge in history simply because I have such knowledge, will know such things and mention it to themselves. The fact that the British Royal Family have not lost a man in combat (not flying accidents, combat) in four hundred years is well-known and shows you, logically, that they could not have been exposed to any danger no matter what the sympathetic UK press says about their efforts. If they were exposed to danger as would be anyone else serving honourably, where are the bodies? It reminds me of the old American Civil War cry “Show me a dead cavalryman.” There are none and hence the conclusion stands. The characters it must be remembered are typically Afrikaner. They are not impressed with royalty whom they refer to as leeches or parasites, a view shared by millions.
It is such things which make the GMJ Books different. They are not conventional and not the least bothered about standing public opinion. The view that the Israeli Army has lost its discipline (shock and surprise from the readers who only reads what Hollywood publishes) is unfortunately also true. There are several books written by ex-SAS members working as security contractors describing how they and their American (how ironic) television crews were attacked and physically beaten by Russians (emigrants of the 1990s) wearing the proud Israeli Army uniform. It is a disgrace and it does not bode well for a country which can afford to lose only one war and be out of existence. Rather see my books as a warning instead of an attack on Israel as one fellow maintained it was. Closing your eyes is not going to help your cause much anyway. Many of GMJ Books are in fact warnings as is Code Name Odette or GMJ8. It shows clearly the threat of penetration agents in Western Intelligence and the trouble which Snowden caused with his betrayals. This is so important that GMJ 9, Code Name Sanford and the new upcoming GMJ 10, Code Name Honey Bee, deals with the same subject. It is a nightmare scenario keeping counter terrorism heads awake at night.
I also had a reader complaining bitterly about the negative comments made by Major Foxtrot on the state of the British Army in Iraq in 2004 (Code Name Foxtrot). Well, if you read any of the hundreds of books written by fairly senior officers from colonel rank downwards you will find they say the same. If you read any of the many hundreds of books written by American officers, you will find they say exactly what the characters say and if you research the incidents mentioned you will find it happened as described. For example the illegal jailbreak out of an Iraqi jail of two arrested SAS members for the murder of an Iraqi policeman etc. took place. Then the shock that the SAS is not considered as the premier Special Forces Unit in the world anymore, the US Navy SEALS in Team Six replaced them as did Delta Detachment.
This is not fiction but reality and yes it is easy to look back and point fingers. However since it is historically correct it will be in the books and that is the GMJ Books for you. They are well researched and where I am wrong I am quick to change it. For example in GMJ Book 2, Code Name Pour Angelique, I said the Soviet made Dragunov fired the same round as the AK47 and I was clearly wrong. A former Special Forces officer immediately pointed out it uses a longer cartridge and it was a stupid mistake (his kind words). I changed the book and will keep on doing so when proven wrong. The characters also give credit where is due. It is not a matter of being scornful - even where the British Army is said to be under equipped they also say they are still the same army which never loses a war. The respect is there if you are capable of reading between the lines and understanding the subtle humour.
My books are about reading pleasure and for you as reader to know what your read is true even if the storyline is fiction. All the Special Forces techniques described are correct and well-known to most with an interest in the subject. It is not by chance that I decided to let the books play off in Sub Saharan Africa – I know the area and the countries and how counter terrorism work here better than most. This knowledge was transferred to the GMJ Books. If you read about a river or a hotel or a town, you can go there and see in your mind how the book plays off. I was in all those places before and have many years of experience in this field. The summary of the new South Africa as described in the first book by Sir John McElroy regarding the unofficial attitude about Muslim Radicals are not wrong but unproven, obviously. There are many intelligence analysts worldwide who will tell you that is their own views on the subject and they are worried about it. The existence of the “Muslim Truce” is also suspected but unproven for many years now and the links between South Africa and the London Tube bombers and the so called “white widow” is true and proven. All the premises and events where the SAS Manthatisi sunk the NATO squadron in the exercise are true. You are not dealing with a normal African country when it comes to South Africa.
Then there are those who asked me how good the South African Special Forces are since they have never heard of them before. As any reader will know, the two male characters, Foxtrot & Geelslang, first served in the Police Special Forces and then were exported to the Army Regiments in the books. In short, to answer the question and I will write a blog on the Units in the future, they are as good as the US Navy SEALS or DELTA or the British SAS from where they originally came. Just because you never heard of them and they happen to be in Africa does not mean they can be dismissed as Mickey Mouse operators as another fellow maintained and then refused to debate the issue with me. Anyway, don’t take my word. Go and research “South African Special Forces or Recce or Task Force” on Google and talk to Special Forces members anywhere in the world and you will find the remarkable respect for them in that community. In Africa there is nothing better and statistically they are more elite than the US Navy SEALS with a higher Selection dropout rate than almost any Special Forces Unit anywhere in the world. From a hundred thousand men who tried to pass Selection only about seven hundred qualified over a period of forty years and that ends all arguments as far as I am concerned. They have all the usual Special Forces skills and a lot more because they know their area of operations better than anyone else. For example, the use of ski-boats instead of rubber ducks as described first in GMJ Book 1, Code Name Vfo565. The South African Special Forces prayer quoted in GMJ Book 3, Code Name Phoenix (I asked permission to use it before publishing) exists. This is not fiction but facts. Even so, it is as I keep on saying in the books, a matter of horses for courses. It is not about who is the toughest but who is the most effective in a particular sphere and in Africa you don’t get any better.
I am indebted to every reader and everyone who contacts me. Thank you for your support and the nice feedback I get on the love story between Geoffrey Foxtrot and Angelique Dawson. They are in many ways what happened to me and my late wife and there are codes in every book which my late wife will recognize. It is not by chance, I wrote it like that to honour her. Less than five persons in the world (her close friends and family) know the exact codes as I gave it to them with every book. This is my dream and I am living it. I am grateful for your making it possible.