Welcome Chris Allen
Before penning his Alex Morgan espionage series, Australian author, Chris Allen , saw the world from under a parachute; made a difference in East Timor; protected Sydney’s iconic sails post 9/11; and most recently, as Sheriff of New South Wales, held one of the most historic offices in Australia. Since first self-publishing and then being signed by Pan Macmillan Australia’s digital imprint Momentum for a two-book deal, Defender and Hunter, the first two books in his Intrepid series, have wowed readers worldwide, with the third Avenger due out end-2013 and a film franchise underway.
Defender introduces Alex Morgan, part Jason Bourne, part James Bond, he is an agent of Interpol’s black-ops division, Intrepid on his first solo mission, tasked with stopping a vicious renegade intelligence officer and to uncover the shadowy conspiracy behind him.
In Hunter, Alex Morgan is is determined to stop the Serbian war criminals who threaten the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal in a bid to avoid answering for their crimes. You can read MY REVIEW of this a fast paced, action packed, global thriller here. In the meantime I invite you to learn a little more about Chris Allen and the Intrepid series.
The Importance of Music in Books
Music has always been in my bones. I grew up in a musical family: My mum and sisters played strings and piano, I was a jazz and rock-obsessed drummer, my younger brothers each played bass and guitar respectively while my Welsh father had a beautiful voice. I remember having sing-a-longs with my Pop and listening to our uncles play guitars and sing with their lilting Northern English accents. They were from Durham – Bryan Ferry territory. As a result of these influences and having an eclectic taste in rock and jazz, it was inevitable that music would find a way of infusing itself in my writing.
In writing international crime and espionage thriller novels then, music assists me in helping to reflect an element of a character’s personality, in that musical choices are a reflection of a person’s individuality and tastes. Alex Morgan – the star agent of the black-ops Interpol agency– and General Davenport – Intrepid’s Chief – will always echo certain elements of my own taste in music, in some shape or form, because aspects of their personalities reflect parts of me (albeit at different stages in my life). For example, while head honcho General Davenport appreciates the jazz classics, with Morgan’s vocation he’s a heavy rock guy who enjoys softer music on occasion (it sounds like a cliché, but Enya soothes him) as well as the blues, which brings out his predisposition for melancholy.
Another way I use music is to help paint a particular mood for a scene. That way, I’m using the tune to create the atmosphere or disposition of the characters at that point in the story. When Alex Morgan is driving in the car towards London in Defender, with his blood up and frustrated by the fruitless search for rogue agent Lundt, he listens to Aussie rock band, The Living End. But if a character is – just say – feeling a bit lucky, maybe relaxing with a gorgeous woman and having enjoyed a bowl of pasta and a glass of red, they might be enjoying some Eric Clapton or Miles Davies. Varying soundtracks for different types of action…!
That said, when I’m through the research stage and am into actually writing the books, I hardly ever listen to music. As a drummer, whether I like the track that is playing nearby or I can’t stand it, I click into the rhythmic beat and it distracts my thinking. But ever so occasionally, if I’m right into writing an action scene I might put a driving drum beat and that’ll help me to type quicker (even though I only use two fingers).
Reviewers have commented that I have a cinematic writing style, in that it’s very visual and shows readers what’s in my mind’s eye for the stories. One of my favourite recent film series, Iron Man, takes the heavy metal concept literally by using a lot of ACDC throughout the scenes. There’s no reason you can’t evoke the same reactions when writing a story by suggesting musical tracks and styles throughout the novel.
In my second Alex Morgan adventure, Hunter, the heroine Charlotte-Rose Fleming is one of the finest classical pianists of her time. I wanted her to have substance, to have a special talent, to be adored for it, and being an internationally acclaimed musician is one of the highest accolades I could bestow. I researched a very glamorous and flamboyant musician called Sonja Kahn to help me think about Charlie’s gift (as she is nicknamed in the novel) and her unique performance style. There is a description of Charlie in Chapter 11 of Hunter:
“Her mastery of the instrument was indisputable, showcased via a repertoire only the finest players at the absolute pinnacle of their careers could ever attempt. But it was the showmanship, a combination of unbridled energy, passion, humor and seduction, that beguiled her audiences. The atmosphere and physicality of her performances were more akin to a rock concert than a classical music recital.”
Based on the music that appears in my novels, we’ve released two Spotify soundtracks so you can listen to the music that features in each book. In Defender, there’s more rock, jazz and pop, whereas there’s more of a classical bent in Hunter, which reflects the storyline with its principal character, Charlotte Rose Fleming is a world-famous classical musician. You can listen to each of the Spotify soundtracks from my first and second Alex Morgan adventures on the IntrepidAllen website here.
I also blog about all things thriller as well as indulging my love of cult TV shows and movies from my youth at intrepidallen.com/blog. You can say g’day on Facebook too, at http://www.facebook.com/intrepidallen