BookView Interview with Author Chas Murrell

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we talked with Chas Murrell about his writing and his recently released Australian spy thriller Yearn to Fear: Australian Spy Thriller, the first in The Lamarr Series (read the review here).

Australian author Chas Murrell has been a Police Officer, Senior Fire Commander, Customs Coastwatch surveillance mission co-ordinator, heavy machinery mechanic, emergency medical technician/ instructor, film extra, and General Manager of an event company. He has published academic papers on liquid hydrogen and held a worldwide provisional patent for a nonlinear mathematical calculation. He survived Australia’s largest gas BLEVE in 1987, and has provided operational support to some of Australia’s largest natural disasters in North Queensland.

On a personal level he has suffered from relentless and debilitating migraines all his life, is father to four and pop to two. He and his artistically entrepreneurial wife live in Tasmania, which looks very much like Scotland and they wouldn’t have it any other way. A direct descendant of Robert the Bruce (King of Scots), history runs deep in Chas’s veins, along with a profound knowledge of both World Wars. You may even come across him online playing World of Tanks.

In his Australian spy thriller books you will get to know Chas’s knowledge of technology, intrigue, crime, espionage, weaponry, banter, romance and even whisky… yet above all, there is believability and no loose ends.

How often do you base your characters on real people?

More often than not. If I’m looking for a particular trait or type of person, I find it easier to think of a real person. Having said that the arch villain in my first book is not based on anyone, probably because I don’t know anyone that nasty!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

With my background and the types of book I am writing in this spy thriller series I wrote solidly for 2 ½ months and research would have comprised about 3 days in total during that time. It was more fact checking than research, to make sure my memory served properly.  In the other series that is in extremely early planning stages I am gathering documents and will have to do weeks of research to achieve the result I want. This series is not a spy thriller but based on fact fiction.

How often you read?

Pre-Covid I spent quite a lot of time working alone and would go through 3-5 audio books a week. Whilst working in the warehouse or driving any sort of distance.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Software editors are a guide and whilst they’re great and can vastly improve quality and readability, they can also degrade the message you are trying to impart.

How do you select the names of your characters?

They are based mostly again on people I know or would like to remember or acknowledge.   The opening siege scene in Yearn to Fear is based on real events when I was a young Policeman. Marcus Hall takes his surname from the Sergeant I was working with that day.

Does your family support your career as a writer?

Fabulously.

Is writer’s block real?

Fortunately, I don’t seem to suffer from it, although I don’t doubt it’s real.  I do suffer from what I call a ‘fried brain,’ when you have been writing long hours and you just can’t squeeze any more thoughts out. Sometimes I wake in the morning and know I won’t write anything today, because I just need to rest that side of me and come back again when I feel ready.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

They form a bond with some of the characters, and the plot and are invested enough in both to want to continue the series.

How does your faith life/ethical outlook inform your writing?

Originally in answer to this question I said, ‘it doesn’t.’ But having thought some more about it, it does. In an early version of Yearn to Fear as a result of a masterclass suggestion, I had a criminal backhand a female character hard when they first encountered. This really went against the grain and I found it too disturbing that I could be responsible for that. So I removed it and went down another path.

What life experiences have shaped your writing most?

It’s hard to pick one, because my writing is very much the sum of my parts.  It really is an unusual mashup of loving history; 30 years of work in Police, Fire and Medical areas and 10 years in maritime surveillance. It’s a love of high tech and life experiences resulting from all these things. A hard question to answer.

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