What happens when your matchmaker turns out to be the Chinese Communist Party?
Australian artificial intelligence expert, Daniel Petersen, is tricked into a relationship with Mei Wong, a member of the local Chinese diaspora.
Mei is an innocent and reluctant participant in a plot planned over many years and driven by China’s insatiable need for intelligence.
By accident, the plot is revealed and the Australian Federal Police, and other global security resources, detect similar plots afoot worldwide. A global sweep of the local diaspora is executed to scoop up perpetrators and victims.
Undaunted by the attack on their network, the CCP, having initially failed to get what they want in secret, up the stakes in a rash move that threatens both Daniel’s and Mei’s lives.
When their Plan B goes awry the CCP activities are exposed to the world, and they are forced into sweeping changes with ramifications at the pinnacle of their despotic regime.
Let's talk about it
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I completed the New York Marathon in 1988. I had previously run a few in Melbourne and when I worked with Ogilvy and Mather Advertising the opportunity to run in New York presented itself. It was a thrill. It was also the last Marathon I ran.
Why did you choose the themes in your book and were you aware of them from the start?
I have always had an interest in the way large countries and the regimes that control them, exercise their power. For some years I have focussed on the CCP and the avarice it displays as it harvests whatever it wants to provide it with more power and control. It seemed natural to me to write a book to explore how this could impact the day-to-day lives of people who get caught up in the process.
How difficult was it for you to write this book? Did you face any obstacles?
I started this book at the beginning of the first COVID lockdown. That provided an almost monastic environment in which to focus. It was challenging to think about the story and work out how a story becomes a book and how that gets released. The guidance provided through the assessment and beta reading process was an immense help. I would say it was not difficult, as much as it was a grind.
Do you always write in this genre or do you like to break out of the box?
Being my first book, the answer is, thus far, yes. But I have another story about a serial killer near completion and two others, partly developed, on other topics. I am not focussed on one genre.
What are your writing habits or idiosyncrasies?
I devote time each weekday to writing. The books I have read on a successful writing process, Stephen King and the like, all stress the commitment of time daily as being a key to success. In terms of idiosyncratic tendencies, if I get stuck or blocked, I play the full set of Leonard Cohen live In London. It gets me going. He was such a great poet.
What would you do differently next time?
I have through the process of completing this book, developed a way I approach development. I am by nature a ‘Pantser’ but lately, I have found developing profiles on my main characters firstly to be an advantage. Also, a bit of a mind map of how the story might work just as a guide.
With hindsight, what would you say to yourself as a fledgling writer?
Not sure I should pontificate on this with only one story published. But if pressed, I would say commit time and do it, even if you just sit looking at a blank screen. Write anything. At one stage I wrote a short children’s story as a distraction.
If you worked with a professional editor, what was the experience like?
Partly I did. AJ provided me with some coaching to get me focussed on the concept of “less is more” when it comes to word use. And of course, the assessment and Beta process was excellent.
What’s next for your writing?
I am nearing the end of The Family Killer, my serial killer story which explores why the main character develops into a killer and how he goes about his business. But it has some good twists. I hope. I also have two other stories sitting at about 35K waiting to finish. So, plenty to do.
Ian McBride lives in Melbourne, Australia. He has a Bachelor of Arts and spent most of his career working in Information Technology and Knowledge Management. Writing a book was always on his bucket list. So, at the beginning of the first long COVID lockdown in March 2020 he started. Being intrigued by China’s use of influencers and local diaspora to shape the world to suit the CCP, he wrote his first novel, The Chinese Doll, to explore how that might play out in Australia. Ian loves cooking, reading (and listening to) novels, and playing his guitar. When he is not busy with these pleasures, he commits hours most days to the task of writing, working to complete the three new novels he has drafted.