BookView Interview with Author Rob Phayre

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

Recently, we interviewed  Rob Phayre, about his writing and his debut in The Response Files series, The Ransom Drop, a taut, fast-faced military thrilelr (Read the review here.) Rob’s career in security and crisis management in Africa has been the inspiration for his fictional writing career and especially ‘The Response File’ series.

Rob Phayre spent his first career in the British military as a helicopter pilot and commander. He spent time in most of the usual places and some unusual ones. After his military career, and nearly twenty years ago now, Rob moved to Africa, where he followed his feet into a career in security and crisis management.

In Africa, Rob Phayre led a number of organisations, helping others in the event of a crisis. Without doubt his most interesting work centred around the response to Somali Piracy and hostage taking in East Africa. Rob delivered his first ransom to Somali pirates about twelve years ago. Since then, he has helped resolve nearly 40 hostage incidents both on and offshore across Africa. Some of those ransoms were the largest ever paid for the release of maritime vessels at sea.

Over his career, Rob led projects all around the world. From the ice and snow above the arctic circle to the deserts of the Sahara. From the jungles in Africa to the rippling waves of the Indian Ocean.

It’s no secret that some of the projects that Rob has been involved with, have been the inspiration for his fictional writing career and especially ‘The Response File’ series.

To learn more visit

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have two published, and two on the go.

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

I am lucky to have had many exciting adventures in my life. From paying ransoms to pirates to flying attack helicopters in combat. So far I have based my fictional adventures on real life hooks. I love blending fact and fiction to create a gripping narrative.

Do you find writing therapeutic?

Absolutely. I love the creativity of writing. My day job is very structured, formal and professional. I find writing to be fun and stress busting!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing a novel?

Editing!  I love the creative process and editing brings me back down to earth.

How many hours a day do you write?

One. Its my hobby, my me time.

How often you read?

Every day for between half an hour and an hour.  Then I listen to audio books in the car during my commute too. I used to have a computer game addiction and that wasn’t healthy. So now I read much more.

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

Start writing earlier in life.

Do you Google yourself?

Yes. These days, your online profile is so important.

What are your favorite books?

Crime thrillers and military thrillers for when I relaxing. Personal growth books for when I want to develop myself a little more.

What is your favorite childhood book?

The Lord of the Rings.  – more importantly though, I love reading books to my children. Naturally, they get to choose.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

About three months to write and two months to edit / self publish.

Would you rather read a book or watch television?


Are you a feeler or a thinker?

A thinker, I like logic, but I am awful at maths.

Tell us some more about The Ransom Drop.

The Ransom Drop reveals some of the secrets behind how Somali Piracy situations were solved. From how negotiations were conducted, how ransoms were delivered, and how ships were rescued after being released. The story is fictional, but heavily based on real life events. The author, Rob Phayre, delivered some of the largest ransoms ever paid at sea.

What inspired the premise of your book?

I spent three years of my life responding too and solving Somali Piracy issues. The story has never been told from the perspective of those who negotiated and then delivered the ransoms.

How many rewrites did you do for this book?


Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

For me, it was the lead pirate, Abdi.  I spent many years thinking about my real life adversary. I wanted to make this character realistic and explore what motivated him. I didn’t want to put my own biases into the character and make him both hated and understood, if not loved.

Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?

There are a couple. The first, is how the ship was captured by the pirates.  The second, how the ransoms was delivered. It gives me goosebumps just remembering the fun of doing it!

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

I hope that readers will understand the human impacts of piracy on the crews. Can you imagine what it would be like to be held in that part of the world? Feeling the terror of capture every waking moment.

What’s next for you?

By December 2021 my second novel in The Response Files will be published. Jungle Heist is a gold mine robbery brought to life. Based in the jungles of Ghana, a successful robbery results in a chase through the jungle with several tons of gold. I wont spoil the tale, but there is a fun and exciting ending!


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