Colin Bailey was the main protagonist in my first two action thrillers; his story began in ‘The Final Straw’ where the events took place which led him on a seemingly endless campaign of revenge and his quest for justice. His character was set in stone the moment I wrote the first four words of that first novel.
“Colin Bailey was invisible.”
I had no idea when I wrote that sentence, that it would change my life completely.
In the book we learn of his early family life; the lack of love, the neglect, the bullying he suffered at school from the boys who would inevitably become leaders of the rival gangs on the lawless council estates in the town where Colin lived. Colin vowed to get his revenge and to right the wrongs carried out against him. He planned what to do right down to the smallest detail; nothing was left to chance. Many of us have probably felt badly treated or wronged and thought how we might go about putting things right.
Colin Bailey is different: he actually DOES it! For those of you who have not yet read ‘The Final Straw’ I won’t reveal the tragic event that turns Colin’s life upside down and unleashes a killing spree to rival any book you’ve ever read. Let’s just say that things were never the same again in that quiet West Country town where he was brought up.
There were several loose ends to be tidied up and in the sequel ‘Unfinished Business’ Colin did exactly that! He also added a few more villains to his list of victims; people he had identified while he was living abroad, watching his homeland slip further into the hands of organised crime, drug barons and sexual predators.
Colin Bailey has a clearly defined set of values regarding what is right and what is wrong. He believes that if they are guilty then the criminals must pay the price. There are no soft sentences, no community orders or getting off on a ‘technicality’, not in Colin’s world!
This new series features Colin Bailey as ‘The Phoenix’, a man who has cheated death and is now being used by a secret organisation to continue their own fight against crime. It seemed the perfect home for Colin! I wasn’t sure what to do with his character after two novels. In the end I was persuaded to give him a new direction. I think there are many more adventures ahead for Colin. I certainly hope so! It’s so much fun writing about good triumphing over evil, especially when the character bringing that triumph about is Colin Bailey; evil personified.
WHERE IS THE OLYMPUS PROJECT HQ?
Larcombe Manor is the site of the headquarters of the Olympus Project; of course, it doesn’t really exist. However, there are a hundred similar looking country estates within a thirty mile drive from my home. I have lived in West Wiltshire all my life. I worked in the Roman City of Bath in the 1960s and both ‘Unfinished Business’ and ‘The Olympus Project’ feature Bath and the surrounding countryside in their story lines. I use familiar settings in my books because they are ‘comfortable’ reference points around which to weave the plot lines of my novels.
Over the centuries since the Romans inhabited Aquae Sulis and built the Roman Baths, many others have influenced the local architecture; the Georgians of course (as Larcombe Manor demonstrates) and in the past fifty years The Admiralty has been a significant presence. All these elements gave me the idea for the Olympus Project; a retired Naval man living on the outskirts of Bath in a Georgian manor, his family touched by tragedy. What if he reached out to others in a similar position? What if they joined together to take direct action against criminals who seemed to be above the law or who even when caught still managed to escape with a laughingly light sentence?
The main house and the grounds look quite normal don’t they? What if all is not as it seems? The series featuring ‘The Phoenix’ will explore the adventures that can be generated by a secret organisation with all the modern technical wizardry available to it hidden away in this elegant looking desirable property.
HOW DO THE PHOENIX BOOKS RELATE TO THE REAL WORLD?
I am sure you remember my ‘Welcome’ message when you visited this site.
“Are you searching for real characters; realistic story lines?”
I do not have an agenda, political or moral. I write to entertain; however, I soon realised when I first started writing fiction that there were thousands of real life stories available to me that could be fertile ground for my plot lines.
The whole premise behind ‘The Olympus Project’ is the notion of a group of wealthy people taking the law into their own hands, because of society’s failure to punish criminals appropriately. The Phoenix is one of their agents; he is tasked with tracking down and eliminating those that have slipped through the net. None of these plot lines was imaginary; they were widely reported real events. Only recently, Oxford joined Rotherham as a large town/city where the sexual exploitation of young girls has been commonplace.
Take these comments from recently published newspaper articles:-
“Tens of thousands of serious criminals are being let off with just a slap on the wrist because of lazy police officers, a report claims.”
“Almost one third of crimes is ‘inappropriately’ punished with a police caution or penalty notice, including some that carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, such as rape.”
“Some 86,000 offences that could have gone before a Crown Court were dealt with out of court in the year to June 2014.”
“The Home Affairs Select Committee points to an ‘alarming’ rise of the caution culture – which has damaged public confidence in the justice system.”
“Despite ministers insisting cautions are ‘inappropriate’ for serious offences, almost 15000 sexual and violent offenders received one in the past four years.”
“The committee chairman said: The public deserve to feel reassured that their local police forces are not tackling serious crimes with a slap on the wrist.”
We can only hope reports such as this galvanise the Government, Police, Justice System and other related authorities into genuinely effective action. With further massive budget cuts looming, I fear our hopes may be misplaced. I stress once more, that my books do not ‘point the finger’ in order to make a political or moral statement; however, as a human being I want to see the suffering caused by these criminals stopped; by the law, not by a vigilante killer like Bailey.
As a realist with a dash of cynicism gained over many years, I fear that I will still have a fertile field of media reports from which to continue my stories of Colin Bailey (as The Phoenix) and his quest for justice.