For years I had been becoming increasingly disturbed by the ease with which we are drawn into war.
I am no political animal, I am a father and grandfather and like any user of the Internet I can see the devastation that war causes. Children without limbs, clumps of severed veins and arteries where feet and hands used to be, faces cut to ribbons - parents killed or maimed. If you can think of it, a child has suffered it - is suffering it. Rarely do we see these images on the news or in the media because they don't make for good television - or good Government. But when I see those images I can't help thinking of my children and grandchildren and how wretched that would be for them. What also hurts is the fact that I have no influence on the world leaders and politicians whose agendas create this mayhem.
So, in 2006, when friend and fellow author, Robert Shove gave me the idea of a soldier driven to turn the world to peace I wanted to write the story. I wanted to create a vehicle to carry the concept which might make people think harder about war and its repercussions. How to do it? I remembered reading that Plato is attributed with the statement: 'Only the dead know the end of war'. This truism struck a cord with me and I knew that I wanted Jack Chandler's first excursion onto the page to challenge it. Linking Jack's dilemma to a flawed US plan to invade Iran gave me the vehicle I needed.
However, during the following four years, the changing situation in the Middle-East, Iran's nuclear revelations and the posturing of Western Governments often made me wonder if I was writing fiction or history.
During 2010 I began selecting agents and making submissions - 19 of them over a period of 9 months! Three agents asked to see the full manuscript - the most helpful being Camilla Wray of Darley Anderson, but despite her enthusiasm for Jack Chandler and the the US invasion plot - she wasn't keen on the other-world sub-plot. She asked if I would take it out. I did and it took almost two months of rewrite to do it, but no matter how I looked at it then, The Messenger just wasn't the same story - it had, quite literally, lost its soul. So, I put the soul(s) back in ... but the lack of the right agent did make me wonder (a) if I had been arrogant in hoping that my book would make people think harder about war and (b) whether my story (sub-plot included) would ever see the light of day.
Then, along came Amazon Kindle publishing. It was free to use, paid commission to authors and no agents were needed. I knew The Messenger had a chance.
I designed the cover, using the outline from a picture of a man carrying an injured child. I hoped it would provided a visible link from The Messenger to the real face of war. And, thinking of faces, in the story Jack tries to save a young Iraqi girl, Leyla, but she dies in his arms - an event that haunts him. All the time I was writing Leyla's character I couldn't get the image of a terrified young girl out of my head. I found her photograph amongst many, more graphic, images of children who had been physically and mentally devastated by conflict. I have no idea who the photographer is or who this child is - all I do know is that her look of of fear and helplessness makes me know that war should be the very last resort and certainly never for profit.