Paul Mann

The Libyan Contract

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The Libyan ContractIf Colonel Gaddafi had been bumped off years ago it would have saved the world a lot of grief. Special Boat Squadron veteran Colin Lynch and a hand picked team of mercenaries show how it could have been done.

I always wanted to be a writer. When I went into the newspaper business at 16 I promised myself it would be a stepping stone to authorship and I'd write a book by the time I was 40. But newspapering and magazine writing were seductive mistresses and before I knew it I was up against my self-imposed deadline. So I wrote my first book in a frenzy of 14-15 hour days and after six weeks I had an 80,000 word manuscript called The Libyan Contract to show for it. Within a year I'd sold it in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K.

It helped to go into it with a clear idea of what it should be. I'd also heard somewhere that you should write what you like to read. In my youth that meant thriller writers like Ian Fleming, Len Deighton and Frederick Forsyth. It so happened that the biggest boogeyman in the world at the time was Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the military dictator of Libya, who was sponsoring all manner of terrorism against the West and trying to build a nuclear bomb. I thought wouldn't it be a good idea if we could just kill him?

From there it became a 'how would you do it' book. It had to be a government disavowed mission involving Special Forces that would go into Tripoli from the sea, secure a Gaddafi safe house and ambush him there. I wanted to maximize the potential audience so I made it an Anglo-American team led by Special Boat Service veteran Colin Lynch. I deliberately chose a low key name for my hero because I'm just not comfortable with implausibly dramatic superhero names. And while I wanted the story to be spectacular enough to impress American audiences I wanted enough British grit to satisfy British audiences. It was also an excuse to use cave diving experience I'd acquired in Australia which came in very handy. It was a testosterone driven book with plenty of toys for the boys and a lot of fun to write. What was funny was that I wrote it in our youngest daughter's bedroom surrounded by baby mobiles and Donald Duck curtains. But who's a better mascot for Maritime Special Forces than Donald Duck?

I will never forget the moment I was walking down a street in London that summer and saw my book in a bookstore window. It told me that maybe I was an author after all. But there were plenty of other moments to bring me down to earth. Like my first TV interview on a morning show in Adelaide where I was squeezed in between exotic fruit and naughty lingerie.