By Steve Braker
William Brody Bio
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) William Brody
Place of Birth: Wood Green, North London, UK
Mother: British, Father: Irish
Education: Not so much.
I like to think of Brody as one of those guys you would enjoy having a beer with. As an author, all of my characters have a piece of someone in them. Brody was my first main protagonist, and I spent a fair amount of time building his bio. It’s important for an author to get to know his characters, as they become real people in our heads as we read the stories.
A man like Brody will always act in a certain way. If he acts out of character, then, in my opinion, will make him less real to you as the reader.
As a professional Brody joined the Royal Marines straight out of school at the age of 16. The army life suited him at that time of his life. He excelled in fitness, martial arts, and weapons. He was soon tagged as officer material. The Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell come to mind here. He transferred to the Special Boats Squadron some seven or eight years after joining. He is of an age where he could have been in the Iraqi conflicts. But as an SBS operator, he would have been sent to most of the world’s hotspots at one time or another. He reaches the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He finally gets disillusioned when he is sent on a mission to snatch a cleric from a Somali village after the mission he has P.T.S.D. and decided that it is time to quit. This is outlined in African Slaver and alluded to in most of the William Brody Thriller series.
The SBS is a special forces unit that the U.K. has that is modelled on the famous S.A.S. but I want Brody to have more of a link to the ocean.
Outside of this, though, there is the man. I was brought up watching four channels on the TV and Saturday morning movies. I loved the westerns, especially Alan Ladd and John Wayne. The characters these guys played always had a moral compass. A direction that was set and could not be altered by anyone. They were generally honest and always did the right thing. I modelled Brody after these guys, who in my mind’s eye were tough but fair, as honest as they could be, and when the proverbial hit the fan they would stand next to their friends and be there for them. In saying this, I didn’t want him to be some Clark Kent, everyone has imperfections. I chose alcohol as his Achilles’ heel as I personally have a fair amount of experience in this area! I think I can describe a hangover pretty well.
One of the aspects I want to bring out in Brody is the desire to be free. I think in life we have very few actual choices we can make. Freedom, at least in your mind, is one of the most valuable things anyone can have. He just wants to live the dream, sailing his dhow up and down the coast of East Africa and enjoying the days as they come. I was first introduced to this kind of life when I moved to Kenya in the late 1990s. I had not settled here by then, but I spent a lot of time on the coast just doing my thing. I found the people of the coast to have a unique outlook on life. They take each day as it comes, good, bad, or indifferent. When it arrives, they deal with it as best they can. The idea of planning every aspect of a day is just not even thought of. I often try to bring this out in my books, as I am fascinated with the idea of living in the moment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s frustrating to westerners sometimes, but overall, the moment is the only thing we actually have control of.
I tried to build an anti-hero into the troupe, as I felt that when I read adventure books, if the main character is bulletproof, then I lose interest. I believe everyone has their faults and must carry them through life. So, Brody is a hero and will stand next to his buddies in a tight spot, but he makes loads of mistakes. He always means well, so we must separate the sinner from the sin, but he can sometimes do some pretty stupid and rash things. I was also worried when I started out that Brody might be construed as some sort of colonial type that came to live with the natives. But this is as far from the truth as you could imagine. Brody learns from these guys every day. He is not the seaman that Hassan is by far, and Gumbao hints at being a far more experienced soldier than him. I like to think it is a symbiotic relationship where Brody brings his western ways and Hassan and Gumbao mold them to the ways of Africa.
I purposely have not put a picture here, but whenever I am reading a book, I always remember my daughter when we first taught her to read. One day she came up to me and said, “Dad, I love books; they are like a movie in your mind.” I always remember this, and each and every one of us has our own Brody who acts out the scenes in the movie in our head.
I set out to use Brody to write my action thrillers, very loosly based on my exploits and adventures without the violence and guns. Brody finds his way into the daily troubles that beset the people of Africa. He is honourbale and tries to do his best living in a country where he only half understands what is going. My expereinces of life here in Kenya have, I beleive, given me a unique insight into the lives and cultures of Kenyans and Tanzanians. I try to bring my love of the languages and the cultures out in Brody.
The East Coast of Africa
Somali in the North, then Kenya and Tanzania. Two thousand miles of open ocean, full of tropical islands and sandy beaches.
A place to get lost in and live a life of freedom
Steve Braker Books
The William Brody Thriller Series