I suppose there are few higher adulates than the above to an author than to hear from a reader that your books turned him into a bookworm. I am one myself, I read books of more than 100 pages since the age of 5 and never stopped. I read everything from Louis L’Amour to JT Edson, then Wilbur Smith closer to home, Heinz Konsalik in Afrikaans, duly translated from German, Jack Higgins and you name them, I read them. So I get what it means to be bookworm and I find people incapable to read more than the pages of a magazine with pictures in it a different cup of tea, we don’t mix easily and let me leave it at that.
These days I read nonfiction only and the few fiction favourites that stood the test of time - a good book can be read time and time again. It is magic you know, the words turn into pictures inside your head and you see the story playing in front of you. That is the magic any good author wants, the books must read furiously and hear me, not all are like that, some are badly written despite the “paid for hoo-ha” from the professional reviewers. I know of “good” books I had to leave alone, they just did not capture my imagination. All bookworms know that a good book is so much better than a movie where noise and explosions seem to be the major part of the presentation. I try to keep things real in GMJ, no Hollywood crap explosions or scenarios, and I frequently take the Mickey out of them and especially the Turd Brigade as we call all politicians, left, centre or right wing whiner. I use mostly British humour mixed with the solid Afrikaner variety in my books, regrettably some will never understand that I can speak of a Pommy Bastard with great admiration, or call Sir John a goat, also with some admiration and then the near constant pointing out that historically, Winston Churchill is known as an Arch Liar.
The question is, as an author, how far can you go before you become absurd or you become something worse, untrue to yourself and start writing for sales. We find many best sellers, that is a nice politically correct book blessing liberals, include dirty sex scenes for the sake of sex, and by all means, never criticize anything or write history in which no one wants to hear. I recall in real life, being invited to meet with the English Leeches (Royal Family to you) and being told not to mention the war crimes committed by the English Army in 1901, yes, the Boer Concentration Camps. So, you will read about that disgusting episode in every book and you will find no great admiration to those in charge either, and that is me, I write what I think is needed and should be kept alive in history. Unlike what a certain US politician thinks, this matters. We call her “Hilarious” in GMJ and use her as an object to destroy the natural endorsement the male character, Major Geoffrey Foxtrot, has whenever he holds his soul, Angelique Dawson, close. Yes, he merely thinks of old Hillary and whatever desires he feels below the belt disappears on the spot, I have sympathy. Of course, she gives him heartburn in return so fight is not entirely uneven, all written tongue-in-cheek if you are able to laugh at yourself, some cannot, sadly so.
I don’t like arty-farty books and I have my own ideas on what an artist looks like and my word, that is not me. I don’t have long hair or a desire to be mistaken for a girl at a fair distance (no chance of that). I am not a hippy and am clean shaven most of the time, every second or third day anyway. I don’t smoke or drink and most certainly don’t engage in one night stands with women of uncertain morals or any other, actually, being a widower before my time. Nor do I believe I have to be politically correct in my books to prevent possible backlash and to support liberalism in general as the “oh so correct” books are doing these days. I write as I see it, true to myself, and my deep rooted Christian believes. My books are not politically correct; the characters are not going to suffer from great mental anguish before pulling the trigger or executing a baddy. Why should they? What irked me of Afrikaner authors in general is the way their stories are presented to the readers. Always arty, and by that I mean you have a pregnant and abused woman somewhere, a lad that left his parent’s farm and is now struggling in the big evil city going astray. Or the poor farmer that is losing his farm to drought and always a drunkard in between… by the time you have read such books you are down and miserable and in need of therapy. To me this is dishonest writing and not the South Africa I grew up in and it is not the Afrikaners I know and I know many. I hate such books, I really do, get a life, for God’s sake, write about the Afrikaner spirit and achievements, the proud Zulu man able to lead men, and things like that, not a “pathetic feel sorry for me” book.
My characters will never feel sorry for themselves and they will kick ass. I just cannot imagine the leading character, Angelique Dawson, abused and barefoot in the kitchen and if you read any of the GMJ Books you would know why not, she is a woman beyond anything you ever saw, very able to shoot and swing and always wins and leaving the men, tough lads themselves, shaking their heads in admiration. She is not going to back down either, you take her on, and she will react and yet she stays a woman, very desirable and lovable. And then there is the history aspect. I love history, especially military history, and hence I wrote it into the books. Even now as I write GMJ 25, Code Name Mel’s Choice, I am including the role women pilots played as ferry pilots in World War Two. There is always interesting history in a GMJ Book, little known or forgotten – did you know the female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) were paid exactly the same as the men? Yes, the first time in history that the British Government did so. Their female mates across the Atlantic, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were paid 65% of their male counterparts. This type of thing I like in my books and they are accurate, if I say something historical you may bet your last dollar I am right. GMJ books are well researched and therefore no one reads a GMJ without learning something, be it history or be it military craft & tactics, you walk away wondering how much are fiction and how much are just a good story. That is what I want, for you to wonder and to say to me, I wish I could meet these people, they are so real.
I want my books read, obviously, I would not write them if not. Do I want fame and fortune from them? No, I like the shadows and most will not know me and the codes for my late wife inside the books stays a private joke between us. Yet, I am vain enough to say thank you to those that became bookworms because of Angelique Dawson and her team’s antics, it makes me feel good. The world would have been a much sadder place without them entertaining you and they will be around for a much longer time than me, that is a legacy. I cannot make people read GMJ nor to like them, but I know how good they are.