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  • Writer's pictureHRKemp

Writing – Inspiring Nonfiction (cont)

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

The current political climate around the world provokes emotionally charged commentary and controversy. It feels overwhelming.

Real-life politics makes some readers avoid socio-political novels. Not me. I enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction and pay attention to the news. It may cause me angst or deep concern but I think it’s important to keep paying attention. To stay vigilant. There’s a lot at stake.

I love the way fiction stimulates thought and offers a reader different perspectives. I also love how non-fiction informs and exposes real dilemmas. Both have distinct and unique benefits.

My novels draw on politics and incorporate real issues into their fictional plots. I’ve used several non-fiction books to help me flesh out my plot, add context and depth, and give my novels a plausible feel. In my last blog, I mentioned the excellent book Kickback by Caroline Overington which helped me formulate the starting point for Lethal Legacy. It’s fascinating reading. You can read it here.

Another true account that inspired me when I was first planning Lethal Legacy is The Weapons Detective by Rod Barton.

The inside story of Australia's top weapons inspector.
The Weapns Detective by Rod Barton

Rod Barton tells of his experience as a weapons inspector, highlighting the intricate mix of skills required, e.g. detective work, scientific analysis, and the ability to play mind games. His skills and unique expertise were sought out by the C.I.A., Canberra, and the UN.

I was particularly interested in his role as a principal investigator with UNSCOM and his invitation by Hans Blix to be a special adviser in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq war.

Rod Barton offers real insight into the intelligence gathering leading up to the (illegal) war in Iraq, the game playing by the Iraqi regime, and the political pressure applied to investigators to confirm the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) - which of course were never found.

This book gives a firsthand insight into what happened and Rod Barton can speak with authority and precision about the events that lead to that shameful chapter of Australian history.

It’s even more poignant as we watch the UN inspectors visiting the Russian occupied Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and the layers of intrigue, subterfuge, and misdirection clouding the facts.

Whistleblowers in Australia

My research for both Lethal Legacy and Deadly Secrets has highlighted the role of whistleblowers. Delving into their experience, I was in awe of their courage and sense of justice.

Whistleblowers perform an important public service. Exposing misinformation, corruption, or fraud comes at great personal cost. Official channels can be a stumbling block to justice. When inaction and cover ups persist, those whistleblowers who speak out publicly risk everything, their reputations, personal lives, and jobs. Yet, it’s the whistleblowers who become the target of abuse and vilification.

To hold our elected officials and corporate chiefs to account requires us to protect those who blow the whistle on corruption and fraudulent behaviour. How else can we learn about the wrongdoing?

A book I bought during the 2022 Writers' Week and haven’t yet read is Oil Under Troubled Water by Bernard Collaery.

Australia's Timor Sea intrigue
Oil under troubled water by Bernard Collery

I sighed with relief when our new Australian government announced it would not pursue the prosecution of the lawyer, Bernard Collaery. He acted for the whistleblower, Witness K, who exposed the Timor Leste Scandal.

In the Collaery and Witness K case, the government was severely embarrassed by the revelation that Australian agents bugged Timor officials' offices, especially when we learned that the information benefitted a private company and its commercial interests. Bernard Collaery endured years of legal wrangling with the previous government pursuing secrecy provisions and constantly submitting new (secret) evidence.

The previous Australian government threatened a number of whistleblowers with prosecution and jail. To our shame, there have been many issues exposed by Australian whistleblowers over the last few years and many of these scandals are still to be fully investigated. It remains to be seen what will happen to those still under a prosecution cloud but I hope fairness will prevail and those doing the wrong will suffer more severe consequences than those exposing it.

Protesters supporting whistleblowers outside Parliament House
Photo from Guardian News

Writing Fiction

The exposés I read are sometimes unbelievable and not deemed plausible for a fictional plot.

As Lord Byron said (and has been repeated by many others)

“’Tis strange—but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction.” (Don Juan) 1823 Lord Byron

For me, the scheming and machinations of those in power are a good source of ideas for my thriller plots.

I’m particularly intrigued by the everyday person, who learns about fraud, corruption, and cover ups, and finds the courage to speak out. The notion of someone risking everything for the benefit of others or to uphold a principle is compelling. This altruism inspires me.

The plot for Lethal Legacy sprung from the political issues embroiling the Australian Wheat Board, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) scare campaign. Andrew Wilke was the Australian whistleblower who revealed the lie of WMDs in 2003. He was vilified and his reputation was blackened for daring to speak out.

Lethal Legacy was born.

Lethal Legacy: An Australian mystery thriller with suspense and intrigue.

He died but his dangerous secrets live on.

Her late husband’s secrets threaten her and those she loves. What did Laura’s husband know that others are prepared to kill for?

Laura, at fifty nine, turns amateur sleuth, probing the dark mystery involving his role in Iraq.

What was he researching? When she uncovers a high-level conspiracy, she knows silence won't keep her safe.

But, can she expose the truth and live?

Deadly Secrets is an Australian political conspiracy mystery thriller with suspense and intrigue.

What unspeakable truths lurk beneath the lies?

Shelley, a public servant at the Department of Immigration, uncovers a high-level plot involving a powerful oil/mining company, asylum seekers, and outback communities. The government, perhaps even the Prime Minister, are involved. Can she expose the conspiracy and live?

My website has other blogs (musings) about my writing and my publishing experience.

Stay safe and well.

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