Whatever it takes: An Interview with Chris Allen

Chris Allen writes action thrillers based on real life, having seen and done it all in his time serving in three Commonwealth armies across two decades and four continents. Focusing on the Intelligence, Recovery, Protection and Infiltration Division of Interpol, the INTREPID series of books embody Allen’s own experiences in the military and law enforcement. Alex Morgan, the protagonist, is a battle-hardened soldier determined to protect.

In Defender, the president of a small African country in in danger. Morgan is sent on his first solo mission. Although his cover is to evacuate a group of aid workers, his true mission is much darker – a spy has gone rogue and Morgan must set things right.

A no-holds-barred chase from the heart of Africa to Sydney culminates in a fight to the death.

Defender.jpg

How would you describe Alex Morgan, the frontman of the ‘Intrepid’ series?

Alex Morgan is a battle-hardened soldier whose experience of the world has brought out his human side which is obviously at odds with his profession. He is committed to the protection of others, particularly those who cannot protect themselves – a true champion of the underdog with a strong moral compass. Morgan isn’t an assassin, but when he sees evil his pursues it with unrelenting ruthlessness. He is a former paratrooper and when we meet him Defender he is on his very first solo mission for Intrepid.

What aspects of your personal experience have fallen into Defender and the characters that populate the novel?

When I began to develop Alex Morgan, I based him – very loosely – on myself and my career at a particular point in my life. Like me, Morgan is a former Army Officer, a Major, and a former paratrooper. I’ve drawn on my experience in the Australian and British Armies to develop his career profile; however, I was only ever going to be the foundation upon which I would build Morgan into a contemporary action hero. I’ve drawn his experiences from my own and a variety of my closest friends. I’ve also drawn certain elements of his personality from some of my favourite fictional characters and the actors who have portrayed them. British actor Lewis Collins, specifically his portrayal of Bodie in the 1970s TV crime show The Professionals left a significant impression upon the mould that would eventually produce Alex Morgan. Edward Woodward’s portrayal of Robert McCall in the 1980s TV show The Equalizer was another major influence. It was Bodie’s no-holds-barred ruthlessness balanced with McCall’s integrity and moral fibre that I’ve worked hard to build into Alex Morgan. With regard to the other characters in Defender, I can easily line up each fictional character to the actual person they’re based upon, many of whom are friends or people I have met over the years. Most good, but not all.

No country – No Borders – No limits

What is ‘INTREPID’?

Intrepid is the Intelligence, Recovery, Protection and Infiltration Division of Interpol’s Terrorism sub-directorate. It is an agency that I created and very deliberately placed within Interpol. My objective was to create an agency that is international in every way, not simply an intelligence agency of a sovereign state, serving only the interests of that sovereign state – such as MI6, CIA, Mossad and so on. I wanted Intrepid and the Intrepid agents to be able to operate legally almost anywhere in the world, serving the greater good and not just the country of their birth or citizenship. In that regard, you could almost think of it as International Rescue (aka The Thunderbirds) for grown-ups – minus the rockets!

Is it exciting or difficult to maintain the same character over several books? Are you quite attached to him now? 

I set out to create a series based around a particular lead character. That was always my objective, even as a young kid when I first had a hankering to write! I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do and thrilled to be continuing the series. We’re four books into the series at the moment, currently writing number five and a sixth in the pipeline. So, I’m quite attached to Alex Morgan!

I can easily line up each fictional character to the actual person they’re based upon.

How much does his character develop between Helldiver and Defender?

Chris+Allen+Thriller+AuthorThe approach I took with Defender was to introduce Alex Morgan, unapologetically, as an action character. Therefore, the action is very deliberately unrelenting! As the series has progressed, I’ve allowed the experiences he’s had to shape him as a person. He was already an experienced soldier when he first stepped onto the pages of Defender. Now he has the added experience of a number of years as an Intrepid agent fighting not just for one government, but for the whole world. He has relationships, he’s experienced loss, he’s been injured, come close to death on numerous occasions but he’s prevailed throughout all that. Those types of experiences shape a person emotionally, spiritually, physically. So, yes, Morgan has definitely developed between then and now.

No country – No Borders – No limits is how I summarise the Intrepid brief and that is Alex Morgan all over.

What happens to kick off the action in Defender?

Defender opens with the high-risk interception of a fishing trawler off the north-west coast of Australia. Alex Morgan is hunting gun-runners and is shoulder-to-shoulder with the Royal Australian Navy. He’s bouncing across the waves in a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat in the middle of a storm with lightening strikes stabbing at the sea around him.

Can you share a favourite passage or phrase from Defender?

‘Whatever it takes!’ sums up the book pretty well.

Defender, the first Intrepid adventure, is published by Momentum, rrp $29.99.  Helldiver, the fourth novel in the series, has just been released! Find out more about Chris and the blood-racing ‘Intrepid’ series here

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