Roger CrookOver the last ten years or so I’ve written three novels, the first was ‘Hearts of Stone’ and then its sequel, ‘Flight to Australia, the third and latest is ‘Bangalore’ ‘A Fatwa in the outback’. ‘Bangalore’ has just been released as a paperback and it is available from all good bookshops, not just in Australia, but around the world. How did I gain world wide circulation without a international publisher?

It’s simple really, ‘Bangalore’ is available through a system called ‘print on demand’ or POD. POD if not new to you, it is new to me and for this hard-up storyteller, it works. It works like this, if you order a copy of ‘Bangalore’ from any decent bookseller anywhere in the world, or if you order on-line, a copy is printed and mailed to you within a few days. Put, Roger Crook, Bangalore, into your search engine and the page will fill with places from which you can buy the book on-line. If you support your local bookshop and they need all the support we can give them, they can order from their favorite supplier and ‘Bangalore’ will  be delivered to them, again, within a week to ten days. If as a writer, you want to try POD for yourself Tablo, an enthusiastic Australian company, is where you must go.

POD is a terrific system because it saves me, and you if you are a writer, from the expense of printing and holding stock, or in my case it will save me from a publisher, for a third time, purloining my warehouse stock and forgetting to tell me. The man who published my self-published (?) books, the man who willingly took my money and promised the world, stole some of my stock of books, which he kindly and conveniently kept in his warehouse for no charge (now I know why no-charge) and sold them to a book wholesaler in Victoria. The wholesaler has admitted, in writing, that he obtained the books from the publisher and sold them to libraries and booksellers. Not being a big internet user I hadn’t Googled my own books when they were published, had I done so, I would have seen how many sellers had my books listed as available from them.

How did I find out I had been cheated, robbed, stolen from? By chance. By bloody chance!  I was a regular contributor to an agricultural website. A reader of that site wrote me and said he had enjoyed my books, he was from Queensland, and what intrigued me was that I hadn’t sold many of my books in that state. What made it even more intriguing was that my Queensland reader got his copies from a public library. After a few phone calls I discovered that copies of my first two books, ‘Hearts of Stone’ and ‘Flight to Australia’, were available in several, for that read many, public libraries in Queensland. I had that awful sinking feeling that I had been cheated, made a fool of.

jokersA search in ‘Trove’ at the National Library revealed that hundreds of my books had been sold across the eastern seaboard by a wholesaler who obtained them, he told me, from my so-called publisher. I tackled the publisher and asked for my royalties. He sent me the address of his lawyer. For me an old age pensioner who has spent more money on lawyers than the average person, that was the end of the road. The law in this country belongs to the rich. I learned that long ago, doesn’t matter if you are right, what matters is money and a lot of it at that. I contacted Arts Law and they were kind and understanding and gave the impression I wasn’t the first with my story. They helped for a while and then I concluded there is a limit to pro bono. The rich always win.

What made the exercise even more galling was that had been made a fool of so easily. My first book, ‘Hearts of Stone’ was printed in 2007 and ‘Flight to Australia’ was printed in late 2008. The records revealed that the wholesaler, a well known name in the book world in Victoria, had copies of my first book as they came off the press, almost before I had them. So the exercise by my publisher, another very well known name in the self publishing world, did what he did quite deliberately. He set out to steal from me and succeeded.

Now it is a new world.

The international publishing houses, those who print real books are an arrogant and self serving literary necessity, but only for those many authors who couldn’t do without them — those who have won the lottery and been successful in having a book accepted by a publisher. Our bookshops are full of books originally accepted for publication in America or the UK. International best-sellers are more often than not from somewhere outside of Australia, because that is where the big markets are. The UK has three times the population of Australia and America ten times. Ever wondered why so many successful Australian authors live outside of Australia?

For the rest like me and thousands of others there is the heavily promoted, much used and expensive world of Self Publishing or Vanity Press. Books have been written regarding the dangers and costs of Self Publishing. But when you have spent months maybe years writing a book, having it edited and then getting involved in what for the majority is the soul destroying experience of writing to publishers and if you are lucky responding to a request for a synopsis and a copy of your manuscript double spaced on A4, it’s hard to give up and accept that no publisher likes your work.It becomes no longer the cost of self-publishing one’s book, but the cost of proving that those who rejected were wrong.

Rejection slips never tell you why your work is rejected. I related my tales of woe to an old and experienced colleague and international journalist friend, the sort of man who could and did regularly phone from Viet Nam to Perth, a three thousand word story, complete with punctuation, photos to follow. He was also a great photographer. He advised me that the next time I sent a manuscript to a publisher I should pull out a couple of hairs from my head and put them between the pages. Then when the manuscript came back, check the hairs. I did just that with a Perth publisher and there aren’t many publishers in Perth, my hairs, I put them in two places, were still where I had placed them. I rang the boss of the ‘company’ and he was far from impressed and threatened me if I published.

The sooner the writers of this world move to POD the better the world of story telling will be. There are many but I have been associated for many years an innovative young Australian team at a company called Tablo . Whether you are a writer or a reader they are worth having a look at, the library Tablo is a treasure chest of Australian literature. Sure, there is the good and the bad, but it’s all according to taste. Most importantly they are Australian and started by a young man called Ash and, obviously, he has gathered around him some very entrepreneurial and enthusiastic people.

POD means that the author remains in control. They can do the marketing themselves or get someone else to do it. There is no capital tied up and in my case I have eliminated the chance of being ripped off yet again. I did quite well with ‘Hearts of Stone’ and ‘Flight to Australia’ as paperbacks, ironically when I caught the miscreant I was costing a third re-print and the stocks didn’t tally.

I have copies of ‘Hearts of Stone’ and ‘Flight to Australia‘ in stock, for A$20.00 a copy, plus post and pack or both copies for A$35.00 including post and pack. Use the Feedback/Contact page to arrange an order or email roger.rankin.crook@bigpond.com and I will pass on how to get the money to me. I hope to have both books on POD, as soon as I can afford to couple of hundred dollars for each book.

Roger Crook - Hearts of Stone

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Hearts of Stone

Hearts of Stone starts with love story before WWII. It develops into a story about terrorism and political fanaticism. Not Moslems in the twenty first century but the Christian Irish in the twentieth century. Whether Terrorist or Freedom Fighter, the ‘cause’, is as old as Ireland itself. Brendan McGonigal exiled from Ireland as a student for his political views becomes a wealthy cattle dealer in North Wales and falls in love with Phyllis, a medical student and daughter of a Welsh hill farmer. Their love further binds the ancient culture of two great Celtic nations.

Thirty years on David McGonigal, the only son of Phyllis and Brendan serves with the SAS in Northern Ireland and later with the Home Office Counter Terrorism Unit. He leaves the army and tries to forget his former life — then one placid night in Wales, hooligans threaten the landlord of his local pub. David goes to his aid and finds that there is another sinister and dangerous agenda. The pace is frantic to stop the killing, this time in the name of God, from starting all over again. (314pp)

 

roger-crook-flight-to-australia-cover

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Flight to Australia

In 1969, David McGonigal, the son of an Irish father and a Welsh mother thought the violence of Ireland was behind him when he left the SAS and a covert life in the British Home Office Counter Terrorism Unit. It wasn’t.

David shoots and kills a demented Catholic fanatic as he attempts to assassinate his mother, the famous Dr Phyllis McGonigal, a world leader in birth control and female reproduction. David’s photograph appears in the national press. He is recognised by old enemies in the Republic of Ireland. They try to kill him.

David’s grandmother, a politically powerful Irish woman, brokers a deal with the IRA. David and his new wife Barbara are exiled to Western Australia to live with his Uncle Paul. Forty years previously, this influential woman spirited Paul out of Ireland after he botched an IRA murder mission. The old lady called in old debts and they were paid.

Paul McGonigal is very rich. He owns land and gold mines and mineral assets that nobody knows about – or so he thinks. He leads a quiet life. The mineral boom has started and Paul is in the thick of it.

Flight to Australia tells the story of David and Barbara’s first month in exile. On their first day there is a bomb threat. David fears the IRA have reneged on the deal, but Paul is the target. Paul doesn’t know who they are or why they want him dead – but they keep on trying.

Flight to Australia is a story of love and tragedy and of love found again. From Perth to the Kimberley a breathtaking story of greed, violence and corruption in high places. (438pp)

What the press said about Flight to Australia

“This is an action-packed, detailed, whirlwind of a story – a credit to its author…set primarily in Western Australia involving the IRA and the SAS, political refugees, diamond mines, international scams, murder, tragedy and love! Roger Crook writes masterfully as he fleshes out this fictional story that spans the globe and breaths life into fictional characters.”
Wendy O’Hanlon, APN Newspapers

“Ireland meets Western Australia in this adventure, which covers all negative aspects of the human soul – greed, violence and corruption.”
John Morrow’s Pick of the Week.

Bangalore.

A Fatwa in the outback.

bangalore-coverBangalore is a one million acre sheep station in the Gascoyne region, over a thousand kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia.  Bangalore has been owned and leased from the Crown by the Sinclair family since the 1860s. Lachlan Sinclair and his Indian wife, Indira, the daughter of Indian Royalty, packed up and left the East India Company in India, shortly after the Indian rebellion in the 1850s, and together with several Indian families, camels and horses, and quite a lot of money they settled and pioneered Bangalore station.

The current owner and manager of Bangalore is Angus Sinclair, although his father Lachlan, a much decorated bomber pilot from WWII is still alive and fit and living in Perth. Angus manages Bangalore with the help of Alice and her son, Ali. Alice is a direct descendant of one of the original Indian families, now in her seventies she is twenty or so years older than Angus. Still a beautiful and somewhat regal lady and having been Angus’ nanny and governess and now his general factotum she knows Angus as well as he knows himself, maybe better. Ali is the Overseer on Bangalore.

Angus has been divorced from Michelle for over twenty years. Their daughter Rachael is a doctor working in a Sydney hospital. Their son Ewen is an army helicopter pilot serving with Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan. A young women called Patricia turns up at Bangalore and tells Angus that she is an officer in the RAAF, that she and Ewen are engaged, and then as a few tears flow, she tells him that Ewen has been posted as ‘missing in action’ somewhere on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. He was on a mission to ‘snatch’ a leading terrorist when his helicopter was shot down. All his commanders know is that Ewen is injured and on a stretcher and his colleagues are making it on foot to a safe rendezvous to be rescued.

Patricia then tells Angus that there has been a serious breach in the Special Forces security. An Arab paper published Ewen’s identity and then the story went viral on the Internet. Ewen’s security and probably safety is now of great concern to all, because there won’t be a terrorist in the region who doesn’t have a photo of Ewen and be eager to claim a reward for his capture or death.

This crisis in the Sinclair family brings them all to Bangalore to wait, wait for news of Ewen — better to be together than spread all over the country is the theory, but under stress the scabs are picked off old family sores and they bleed. Tension brings confessions and then, after the press have been repulsed an unmarked helicopter arrives at Bangalore carrying two men, one from ASIO (Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation) and the other an American from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and the news they bring is not good.

Phone intercepts over twenty four hours have revealed that a fatwa has been issued by a leading Pakistani cleric on not only Ewen, but on all of his family. Phone intercepts also revealed that somewhere in Australia the would-be assassins are already on the move but where are they? The security forces want to catch the terrorists in the act and to do that, the Sinclair family agrees to be the human bait…

Bangalore is a story about Australia and Australians, subjects about which far too little is written

What the readers think of Bangalore.

A reader wrote to me and made comments similar to the review below. Although what he didn’t like was the ‘back stories’ on the characters in Bangalore, thought they were a waste of time. I think that everyone is multi dimensional. We are who we are and behave as we do because of life’s experiences. Without wanting to appear arrogant anyone can write a wham-bam-thank-you Ma’am story to read for a few hours on a plane trip. I know many authors make millions by working to a well known formula for the book stands at the airports around the world. I have been told that some have teams of writers and the author is the editor. Seems far fetched to me but then again, who would have believed ten years ago had they been told about the modern iPhone? Am I jealous? Probably. Envious? Certainly, because I would like their money, but I don’t think I could write day after day to a formula. But then again, terrorism features in my books and that is because I am aware that we are so fortunate to live in such a placid place as Australia?

There are some interesting and complicated characters in Bangalore and without knowing their back-story, without explaining what made them who they are, why they behave as they do under stress, might appear to be incongruous or at least be far-fetched. This is what a lady wrote on the Inkitt web site.

Unlike the previous reviewer, I, as a reader, was thrilled to read all the back story, it makes the book more interesting and emotionally connected to the current situation. The similarities between Lachlan meeting his deceitful wife in a hospital and his grandson meeting his new love in hospital are a lovely twist. Lachlan’s naivety in his wife and her family were the ruin of his marriage. His protection of his family at the cost of his own happiness is a great sacrifice, but he was wise enough to see his son make the same mistake and silently protect both him and their home from predators like Michelle. To me, the military protection was a side note to the main story, which is Bangalore, the property and the magic it holds on the people who live there. Congratulations on writing a fascinating book on Australia, it’s large homestead lifestyle and the interaction between the various people who live there. The respect given to the local people who have lived for generations on that land is noted and applauded. It’s such a natural part of the story, the history of the area. I doubt that there would have been much prejudice when Bangalore was first settled. An Indian Princess and a Scot with a bunch of Afghan traders? The local community would have been happy to welcome them. That’s another story I’m sure. Keep writing, looking forward to the next book.

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