Greg Kater, The author of The Warramunga’s War, talks about his journey as a published author. He has some advises for the aspiring writers too.
Here is a detailed interview with Greg Kater.
TBE: Tell us about your book
Greg Kater: The Warramunga’s War is essentially historical fiction. It is a sweeping narrative of the friendship that forms between a young Australian army officer, Jamie Munro, and an educated half-caste Warramunga aboriginal NCO, Jack ‘Jacko’ O’Brien, during the Syrian campaign against the Vichy French in World War II. Jacko rescues a wounded Jamie after which they are conscripted in Cairo by MI6. Here, Jamie and Jacko learn about the seamy side of war in counter-espionage as they track down German spies. The principal fictional characters interact with actual historical figures and events throughout the story.
As the desert war escalates to the west of Cairo, the MI6 team confuses the enemy with misleading radio messages using German codes and using local entertainers as undercover agents. On one of his day leaves, Jacko meets a beautiful young Syrian-French girl and a strong romantic bond forms between the two during his time in Cairo.
Following the end of the desert war, Jamie and Jacko are assigned to wartime intelligence work in Southeast Asia. After the end of the Pacific war, they initiate the Darwin operations of the CIS, the Commonwealth Investigation Service. On the trail of two suspected wartime German agents, they discover the agents have formed a dangerous criminal gang with an individual they had known during their time in Cairo. They needed the tracking skills of the Warramunga to catch up with the murderous gang in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.
TBE: How did you get the idea for this book?
Greg Kater: The subject of this historical novel is partly inspired by the experiences of my father during the Second World War in the Middle East where he took part in both the Syrian campaign and the desert war. It is also partly by my own experiences in northern Australia where I worked extensively.
TBE: Why did you choose to write on this subject?
Greg Kater: During my career I was always busy with fieldwork, travelling, management and all aspects of the resources industry. I had never had time for writing except producing technical reports. When I retired I had worked with so many interesting people and had so many experiences to think about, I decided to somehow make a record of them. I decided that it would be fun to build them into novels of with historical significance. I started in the war period because of my father.
TBE: What was your writing process and research for this book?
Greg Kater: The Warramunga’s War took about nine months to write and edit. There was a great deal of research in this as I wanted all the historical events, the background of the story, to be accurate and authentic. I kept to a regime of writing at least 500 words a day which gave me time to think about what I had written and check all the historical facts. It helped that I already had some knowledge of the events of the war in the Middle East as well as familiarity with the various places in northern Australia where some of the fictional action takes place.
TBE: How did you approach the publishers?
Greg Kater: I had been warned that it is impossible for a new writer to be accepted by one of the international publishing houses, so I approached a local publishing house, Zeus Publications, which is based on the Australian Gold Coast, close to where I live. The publishers had one of their evaluators read it and it was accepted. The staff at Zeus were professional and helpful, so I had no difficulties during the process of publication.
TBE: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Greg Kater: The main challenge was to create the authentic historical and geographical background and build the fictional characters and actions into that scenario to create the narrative.
TBE: How long did it take you to write the book?
Greg Kater: As mentioned before, it took about nine months including careful research.
TBE: What marketing strategies and resources would you recommend to other aspiring authors?
Greg Kater: Whether an author decides to self-publish or to approach an independent publisher, it is of prime importance to have the manuscript structurally edited by a reputable professional editor. No matter how many times an author self-edits, it is seldom, if ever, good enough.
For marketing a book, many authors might have great skills in the art of writing; but few have skills in actual marketing. It is important to team up with book marketing organisations; such as The Bookish Elf, which have considerable experience in putting a book before the reading public.
TBE: Tell us about yourself:
Greg Kater: I am an Australian-based author living in Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast, Queensland. I retired a few years ago from a 55-year international career in the mineral resources industry.
I originally graduated in Science from the University of Sydney specializing in Advanced Geology and Geophysics. And also completed courses in accounting and management.
My career took me to different parts of the world working in the field for large and medium-sized companies as well as attaining executive positions in a number of substantial companies. The final 20 years of my career were as an independent consultant to a range of resource companies. With time on my hands after retirement, I started writing historical fiction.