A conversation with Historical Fiction author
Hi Greg, welcome to Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots. Could you tell my readers a little about yourself!
My name is Greg Kater and I am a 79-year-old Australian. In fact, I am seventh generation Australian, my ancestors having sailed out from England in the early 1800’s. I spent my school years at a boarding school in Sydney, usually working in the holidays on the family sheep and cattle property, 500 kilometres west of Sydney. I am now living in Sanctuary Cove on the beautiful Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia.
After 4 years at the University of Sydney, I graduated in 1960 in Advanced Geology and Geophysics. After that, I spent the next nine years working in the mining industry, mainly in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia as well as some work in Malaysia and Indonesia. From 1969 to 1980, I managed a significant mining company in the Philippines and subsequently, in 1981, set up a mining consultant office in Sydney. From there I travelled all over the world consulting to many mining companies until my retirement from the mineral industry three years ago.
I have been married for 58 years and have four children and six grandchildren. Amongst all the work, I was sometimes able to take my wife with me to interesting places, off the beaten track, varying from Australian desert and bush country, to parts of the USA, South East Asia, and China.
Wow! You have certainly kept very busy. Please feel free to tell us a little about you fabulous trilogy — Warramunga.
I retired three years ago and began to think of my experiences during my career and the many and varied people I had worked with over the years. From there, I thought it might be fun to write fictional novels with the characters based on these unique people, but where to start? Previously, my only writing comprised hundreds of technical reports and contributions to mining journals.
I had in my possession some of my father’s notes on his battles in the World War II Syrian campaign in the early part of the Middle East fighting. I thought, that would be a good start. I would set all my novels as historical fiction with the time setting based on that part of the war and the aftermath of war as it effected my characters (changing their names, of course). So the initial inspiration of my first book, The Warramunga;s War was based on my father’s service in Syria. I was also inspired by my early career working at Tennant Creek in the 1960s where I had first hand knowledge of the amazing skills of the Warramunga aborigines of that region.
My second novel, The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War, was largely inspired by my memories of the Philippines, where I lived from 1969 to 1980. I had heard a number of stories about evil predators looting and taking advantage of the terrible destruction wrought on Manila and other areas in the aftermath of war and decided to make a fictional predatory gang the subject of that novel. The descriptions of the ruins and damage are all genuine.
I had at various times visited and worked in Malaysia and have a number of good friends there. One of the major events in Malaya (as it was then) was the establishment of the Malayan Union in April 1946, so I decided to write a third book, Skills of the Warramunga, about a major fictional conspiracy around the actual events leading up to and after the Malayan Union celebrations. Again, the main theme deals with the consequences of war.
Your trilogy sounds amazing. What kind of challenges did you face researching the era your trilogy is set in?
Although part of the story line of first book, The Warramunga’s War, takes place during the desert campaign, there is little actual war action by the principal characters. The story line mainly deals with the subtle espionage aspects of the Second World War and the aftermath of war. The second and third books deal with the consequences of war in unusual and exotic places.
The principal characters in the novels are Australian including a half-aborigine, Jacko, with special skills and his half-sister, Sarah, a full blood Warramunga. I think these and other unique characters distinguish my books from others.
During the narratives, the main themes, apart from war and the effects of war, are friendship, crime investigation, adventure, romance, history and exotic scenic locations. The novels are suitable for all ages.
Could you tell us what you are currently working on?
I have just finished writing a new novel, Conflict on the Yangtze. No prizes for guessing where that novel is set. Many of my friends urged me to not let Jamie, Jacko and Sarah, just fade away, so I have extended the trilogy to this fourth novel. The process of publication began in early 2019 and the novel will probably be released in the first half of the year.
I am gathering research for a possible fifth novel about the aftermath of war set around the Burma-Thai border, but haven’t started writing anything yet.
Scroll down from more information on Greg's fabulous trilogy!
The Warramunga’s War
The Warramunga’s War is a sweeping narrative of the friendship that forms between a young Australian army officer, Jamie Munro, and an educated half 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 counterespionage 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. The tracking skills of the Warramunga are needed to finally catch up with the murderous gang in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.
The Warramunga’s Aftermath Of War
The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War encapsulates the investigation into the post war activities of a major criminal organisation with tentacles to the USA, Australia and South East Asia. When a fishing boat is discovered in distress in rough seas northwest of Darwin in late 1945, former army officer, Jamie Munro, and educated half caste Warramunga aborigine, Jack “Jacko” O’Brien, who head the CIS in Darwin, are called on to investigate child smuggling operations financed by a shadowy ring of wealthy paedophiles.
This book is the second book of a trilogy. This follows The Warramunga’s War detailing the meeting of Jamie and Jacko on the battlefield during the Second World War and their activities working together with MI6 in intelligence during the remainder of the war. Investigations by CIS after the war take Jamie and Jacko into the war-torn areas of the Philippines where children orphaned during the Japanese occupation are kidnapped by a well organised murderous gang led by influential dignitaries.
Jamie and Jacko have to face numerous dangers in running this criminal organisation to earth in both the Philippines and Australia. All the inherent bushcraft skills of the Warramunga are needed to combat the brutal criminal circle.
Skills Of The Warramunga
The war is over but the peace has not begun ….
This is the third historical novel in the Warramunga series by Greg Kater. The events take place during the first half of 1946 when former army officer, Jamie Munro, and educated half caste aborigine, Jack “Jacko” O’Brien, who head the Commonwealth Investigation Service in Darwin, are called on to assist in the rescue of Colonel John Cook, a senior operative of MI6, who has been kidnapped by unknown bandits into the jungles of Malaya.
During the recent war, Jamie and Jacko had worked in intelligence operations with Colonel Cook during the desert campaign in North Africa in the Second World War, as the Afrika Corps threatened Egypt.
The pair with Jacko’s half- sister, Sarah, a full blood aborigine, originally from Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, arrive in Kuala Lumpur in the aftermath of war to find that they not only have to contend with the impenetrable jungle of the Malay peninsula, but also with a large murderous and subversive organisation of Fascist criminals whose aim is to disrupt the 1st of April 1946 creation of the Malayan Union by the British Military Authority, foment an uprising and take over control of the country. All the inherent bushcraft skills of the Warramunga are needed to prevent catastrophic mayhem on the Malayan Peninsula.
Greg Kater is an Australian-based author. He lives in Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast, Queensland and has recently retired from a 55-year international career in the resources industry. The Warramunga’s War is his first work of fiction. He has since written and published two more books, The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War and Skills of the Warramunga, altogether comprising a trilogy.
The principal fictional characters interact with actual historical figures and events which have been rigorously researched. The subject of the novel is partly inspired by the experiences of the author’s father during the war in the Middle East, and partly by his own experiences in northern Australia where he worked extensively throughout the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.