Interview with Ian D. Richardson

Published 2022-02-28.
After many years in broadcast and print journalism, you have switched to other forms of writing. What are they?
I now mainly write books and screenplays, and have a blog covering a wide range of topics:

I have had three books published: God's Triangle, the true story about my investigation into what happened to a missionary great aunt in Bengal (now Bangladesh), The Mortal Maze, a fictional thriller about the corruption of a television foreign correspondent by the intelligence services. A third book, Florrie - A Life Unexpected, is a novel based on the story of God’s Triangle. Next to be published is another thriller, Seeds of Revenge. I also have four screenplays in various stages of development.
What attracts you to a story?
First of all I need to be intrigued. With my non-fiction book, God's Triangle, my journalistic instincts told me that there was a story that should be investigated and might provide some enlightenment, if told sensitively. As for The Mortal Maze, I wanted to use fiction to explore moral challenges that inevitably arise for journalists when working in a foreign, often dangerous, environment.
What prompted you to write The Mortal Maze?
It was a gradual thing, but when I worked in the field for BBC World Service News and was later in charge of about 200 foreign correspondents, I became suspicious that there were a small number of my journalists working not just for the BBC but for the intelligence services. The accuracy of their reporting was not in question, but by playing a double game, they were undermining the ethics of journalism and putting both themselves and their colleagues in danger.
How do you go about writing your books?
I do things back to front to what is the usual approach to story telling. I write a screenplay first because that allows me to establish characters and a simple story structure with a clear beginning and end. Then I write the book version, expanding on the characters and the events that embrace them. My book God's Triangle is, in essence, a diary that takes the reader on the same journey that I took as I tracked down the truth. In a way, The Mortal Maze is also a diary, but one in which I have imagined the events and characters.
Is The Mortal Maze totally fiction, or has fact been woven into it?
It's inevitable that there is some blurring of fact and fiction, often unconsciously. None of the events in The Mortal Maze actually took place, but similar ones did happen, or will happen. I'm very pleased that so many early readers have referred to the story as being 'authentic'. That's good because the best drama, in my view, must have a plausibility about it. Fantasy is not my writing style.
Why did you set The Mortal Maze in the British Broadcasting Corporation?
Initially, I did think of setting the story in a fictitious broadcasting organisation, but finally felt that as most readers would know my broadcasting background, they would assume this organisation was really the BBC. Although the story contains some complex and unpleasant characters, I'm pleased that so far there is no serious suggestion that the story is hostile to the BBC as an organisation. Despite its faults, it is an organisation that I greatly admire. I was immensely proud to have worked for it for so many years..
How much of you is in the main Mortal Maze character, Jackson Dunbar?
I don't think there is anything of me in the character, but that's for others to judge. Jackson is a character created as a dramatic device to help tell a story. I can honestly say that I had no-one in particular in mind with him. But I have to admit that there are other characters who are an amalgam of some I've worked with. Some I admired; some I did not.
How did your novel, Florrie - A Life Unexpected, come about?
My first book, God's Triangle, was my investigation into why Australian missionary Florence "Florrie" Cox was innocently caught up in a church scandal and cover-up by the church, the Supreme Court of Victoria, and the Freemasons. It was entirely factual, but I felt there was much more needed to be told. Hence I resorted to fiction with a novel that explored what happened, based on knowledge and plausibility. I could only guess at some of what happened but I am confident that my account is close to the truth.
Your books are controversial. Is that deliberate?
I don't set out to be controversial, but seeking the truth can be disturbing for some readers. There are things that certain people prefer not to know. However, I am pleased that there have been very few objections to "God's Triangle" and "Florrie - A Life Unexpected". Some family members felt that the story of Florence "Florrie" Cox was too sensitive to be told, but the objections faded away once the final manuscripts were seen.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Keeping in touch with my extended family in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was when I was just 18 years old. My local newspaper in Australia, the Charlton Tribune, published my graphic account of the Pan-Pacific Scout Jamboree at Wonga Park near Melbourne in 1956. The jamboree went down in scouting history as one of the wettest and most muddy that ever took place.
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Books by This Author

Florrie - A Life Unexpected
Price: $9.95 USD. Words: 83,700. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2022 . Categories: Essay » Author profile
A novel based on the compelling sad true story of Australian missionary, Florence "Florrie" Cox.
God's Triangle
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 56,090. Language: English. Published: January 28, 2016 . Categories: Nonfiction » History » Australia & New Zealand, Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Ethics & morals
A true detective story by Australian-born journalist Ian D. Richardson recounting how he battled against a church, press and court cover-up of why his Baptist missionary great aunt's marriage to a fellow missionary in Bengal fell apart during the First World War. Richardson's discoveries says much about society’s often-twisted attitude to sex and other social issues in the early 1900s.
The Mortal Maze
Price: $8.95 USD. Words: 97,010. Language: English. Published: January 27, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
A spy thriller packed with moral challenges and spectacular events. Set in the Middle East where star television correspondent Jackson Dunbar encounters people from his past who exploit a weakness with disastrous and unpredicted consequences.