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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for “Hit” by P.S. Bridge, I am delighted to be able to share a guest post with you written by the author about research and inspiration for this thriller.

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PS Bridge-01

 

A terrorist threat, a sinister organisation, and a threat to the security of the free world.
Renowned British lawyer and Sandhurst military academy dropout, Mark Lucas King is
assigned the case of his career: to prosecute known terrorist Mohammed Al-Azidi.
All King wants is justice and to do his job successfully. But his peaceful life is shattered when
a team of merciless hitmen targets him and his family and the court case collapses. Framed
for assault and suspected of his wife’s murder, King must leave his legal career behind and
go back to his old career as a British Army sniper in order to catch those responsible and
hold them to account. Mark King’s brand of justice doesn’t involve a court room.
Forced to battle against highly trained hitmen to clear his name, King discovers that a
sinister organisation known as Invictus Advoca is operating behind the scenes. What is their
connection to him and the Al-Azidid case?
As the hunt for those responsible takes him far across Europe, can Mark unravel the
mysteries that shroud this secretive organisation and peel back the layers to discover why
he and his family have found themselves the target of professional hitmen?
Time is not on Mark King’s side as he races to prevent a global terror threat, discover who
killed his wife, and find out who wants him dead, and why.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post: Research and Inspiration for ‘Hit’

The idea for ‘Hit’ has really been with me since my early career in the legal and financial industry. I used to wonder what would happen if one of the figures I worked with, those advocates of truth and justice, suddenly went rogue, and how they would handle it.

The character of Mark King was an amalgamation of a few legal figures I have encountered in my life. One in particular was an army reservist and always wanted to be a sniper but the personality of Mark King was several people all rolled into one.

In order for me to set Mark King on the path to becoming a hitman, I had to give him a reason to give up what he was doing, something that would fuel his desire for justice, and what better way than to have his wife murdered by professional killers and, being the kind of character he was, he wouldn’t let that go.

Initially, it was to be a TV series which no one was really interested in, until my partner suggested I turn it into a book. When I completed it, I initially wrote an ending in which Mark lives happily ever after, but try as I may, I couldn’t make it sound convincing, and so it grew into the second book in the series ‘Hitback’. Before much longer, I had planned 5 books, which again turned into what is now a series of 21 books!

When I created the character and his quest for justice, I realised it wouldn’t be confined to just one place, one country, and so I needed some locations. Having never really travelled abroad, I had no physical experience of locations as settings so I turned to the internet. An ex-major client of mine early on in my career was a shipping company and revisiting that part of my life gave me the inspiration for sending Mark King on a mission chasing illegal weapons imports, with one of the main ports my ex-client used, being Holtenau in Germany. I spent a long time researching the port, and, because of its size, it was perfect.

I also wanted things to be difficult for Mark King. It made no sense to have a hero who has it easy all the time and he had to get caught up with the authorities at some point. I couldn’t have him running about Europe killing people without gaining some sort of attention, so the character of Detlev ‘The Wolf’ Kastner was born. Head of the Germany secret intelligence service, he had to be hard and cold but closed off. I wanted him to be almost like a Nazi general, but the reader is never quite sure whether he is with the mysterious Invictus Advoca or not. Again, more research online was needed and, because of having some international clients both as a civil servant and in the legal and financial sector, I had some characters in mind to base Kastner on.

I had always wanted to write a big battle scene, but I wanted to place Mark King as the underdog against a large force of highly trained militia. I wanted a location which was heavily fortified but that was accessible from the air, so it had to be an island. I did some online research and came across an article another ex-client of mine had written about Spain. It was perfect, an uninhabited islet in the Balearic Islands, Spain, located in the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Majorca. As it was uninhabited, and one had a castle, I decided this would be a fantastic setting for my large battle scene. However, Mark King could not stand entirely alone there, and so the character of El Toro ‘The Bull’ was born. An ex-military man and ex-member of Invictus Advoca, he needed to be experienced on the battle field, but older and now living in peace. The idea of him living on one of these islands wasn’t possible without a reason, so I made him the live-in curator and tour guide of the castle.

As I progressed through the book, Mark needed more than just professional killers to contend with. Someone had to have hired them and needed a reason to hire them, so being a massive fan of stories about organisations such as the Knights Templar, the Freemasons and occult power groups, I decided on creating an organisation which operated in the shadows, had a massive amount of financial resources and firepower at its disposal. Conducting research on such organisations, be they fictional, theoretical or actual, I found the same criteria in each of them. They usually had a military reach, and so could have resources such as militia, bounty hunters, and weapons. Next I looked at finances and how they would afford all these things and so I decided that my organisation would have links to pharmaceutical companies, weapons manufacturers, arms dealers, and world governments. As the series progresses, you will see more and more of this organisation come to light. I also wanted the organisation to have been around for decades and have a mysterious occultist type name and so I played around with Latin, until I came up with a title which I thought sounded powerful. The Unconquered Calling was the ‘working title’ for the organisation but once it was translated into Latin, it read ‘Invictus Advoca’. The Advoca part worked really well seeing as my main character and hero was an advocate and this provided me with an opportunity to link Invictus Advoca, to Mark himself.

Not only would Mark come to the attention of this mysterious secretive society, but also a young agent also intent on putting Azidi behind bars. It stood to reason that overseas intelligence agencies would eventually notice Mark King and so MI6 Agent Nathanial Williams was born. Not only is he after Azidi, but he also wants Mark King too. The two men cross paths but Williams just can’t seem to get Mark. It was fun creating an MI6 agent because I wanted to avoid the Bond type of agent and make it more realistic.

From the research perspective of the military side of things, it wouldn’t have been enough just to research guns and weapons online, I had to have more to add depth to the book. I was lucky enough to have grown up with a few friends who started off their lives in the Army cadets and some of them remained in the army and still serve now. The first thing I needed to do was to speak to those who had served in hostile environments and get some first-hand accounts of the use of weapons and how they behaved on the battle field. I spoke at great length with them, but due to sensitive information, they could only tell me so much before I had to elaborate on the rest myself by research.

All of the bad guys in the book are based on actual people I grew up around. After my father’s death when I was 4, my mother and I moved to a council estate and there were some pretty unsavoury characters there. My best friend and I had kept a log over 20 years of all the goings on there and so I delved into this to find inspiration for characters. For example, the characters of Hix and Vose, the two hired hitmen disguised as gardeners, were 2 older lads who gave me and my best friend a pretty rough time. They were perfect for the story and so I built up a collection of bad guys based on my experiences living there. It was the perfect environment to really get a look at the criminal lifestyle and how they behaved and a long time was spent on the phone to my best friend who now lives in Ireland with his young family asking ‘do you remember when this happened, what did so-and-so do and say?’ It was actually great fun and encouraged me to revisit some more traumatic events we experienced back then.

I think every writer has their own way to research and seek inspiration. For me, sometimes ideas come to me in the middle of the night, other times it’s when I listen to music, especially pieces I hear for the first time, and in my mind I build a scene around that piece. If I can, I’ll download or YouTube the piece and listen to it over and over whilst writing the scene. For characters, sometimes I’ll sit in a coffee shop or on the beach, or in the parks or shopping precinct and listen to people’s conversations. The comedian Benny Hill was a great friend of my parents and he used to come around to our house to see us. One of the things my mum said he used for inspiration for sketches was to listen to people’s conversations in the street and use them as the basis for his next sketch. For me, finding different personality types out in public was a great way to find new characters. So really as my partner says, no one is really safe from becoming a character in one of my books!

The main inspiration when I changed Hit from a TV script to a book was my mum. Sadly she never lived to see it as a fully-fledged book but during her chemotherapy sessions, she would ask me to read parts of it and offer critique and suggestions, often saying ‘you can’t say that, he wouldn’t behave that way!’ It took her mind off the pain and sickness. After her death last year, I couldn’t touch the book for a long time, but gradually, the way my mum faced Cancer with bravery and dignity and an outright refusal to give up, became my inspiration and a part of Mark King’s character. I always feel that a large part of my mum is in this book, and it will always remain special to me.

 

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