The story behind the story (4) The Sixth Pillar
In the 1990’s my favourite genre of books for holiday reading was those by Andy McNab and Chris Ryan, former SAS soldiers who were able to use their vast experience of modern warfare into fast-moving stories. My challenge was to write a story in a similar vein.
Written at a time when the so-called Islamic State was making the headlines, I was an avid reader of news reports and I started to ask questions about how individuals could be conditioned into committing such atrocities. My research gave me a much deeper understanding, and, I have to say, respect for Muslim culture.
The story starts in the first Gulf War with an SAS raid into Southern Iraq searching for Scud missiles. Having located a suspicious device, the squad are involved in a furious fire-fight with Republican Guard forces, and, in the course of the skirmish, a civilian house is flattened. From the ruins, crawls a five-year-old boy, Tariq. The book charts his life as, encouraged by his adopted father, he pursues the path of Jihad, which is viewed by extremists as the Sixth Pillar of Islam.
In 2005, I was working for one of the gas companies which required me to fly out to one of the rigs in the North Sea and for some time I had an idea for a possible story-line involving a terrorist attack on an offshore facility. The plot of the Sixth Pillar gave me that opportunity. When the action moves to the gas rig, I was able to use my experiences to give the reader an idea what it’s like to work on board one of these isolated platforms.
The story also follows the life of the SAS sergeant, Rory Calderwood, who led the 1993 raid and his battle against the demons that haunt him following his experiences in the war.
The book was shortlisted for a Wishing Shelf Award in 2014 and is presently with a film producer in Los Angeles with the hope that one day it will be made into a film.
Readers Review: ‘The Sixth Pillar is a brilliant book and wonderfully written... each page holding your attention throughout... a book definitely not to be missed! There has clearly been a tremendous amount of research gone into the writing of this action-packed thriller and the two main strands of the story line brought superbly together in a very clever and convincing way. The book is as enjoyable as all of Alan's other publications and just leaves me waiting in anticipation of his next release. Highly recommended!’