A MILITARY veteran turned author of espionage novels and strategy books was our guest on the Salisbury Journal On Point podcast and revealed his long military career and how he juggles writing fiction and non-fiction books. 

Salisbury resident Craig Lawrence spent most of his adult life in the military and was attached to the Gurkha's.

He said: "When I was at school, I was attracted to doing something physical and outdoorsy as a career. I looked at the army."

Salisbury Journal: Craig Lawrence, Annette J Beveridge and Flora SymingtonCraig Lawrence, Annette J Beveridge and Flora Symington (Image: Craig Lawrence)

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Craig was encouraged to visit the Gurkhas as they had just come back from the Falklands at the time. They were on a high and there were lots of stories about their achievements. 

Craig made it into the regiment.

He said: "Gurkhas come from Nepal. They are very different to British soldiers. They have a different outlook on life, and cultural background but I learned that people are the same despite their differences in many ways. You can come from a very humble background as many of them do and go on to achieve many great things."

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Craig also served in Afghanistan for a year. 

"I wasn't down in Helmand where many British soldiers were, I was in Kabul at Headquarters and was involved in de-risking the 2014 presidential election because that was seen as key to stability. They really are a delightful people, it is just a shame what has happened to the country since the Taliban have taken over."

Craig is a professional strategist.

For the new strategy book - The Quick Guide to Effective Strategy - Craig considers why the Taliban achieved or why Apple achieves. It's much more complicated in its approach because people could take against it.

He said: "Look at what the Taliban achieved. They did very well. They overcame superior opposition and took back the country they had lost 20 years ago. It was sadly, very impressive. But it's a great shame we didn't stay the course."

Craig wrote a book entitled Gurkha: 25 Years of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. It took him about 18 months to write.

He said: "I enjoy the rigor of doing really good research. The primary research and the archives...is really good. The first Gurkha book told 200 years in just a couple of hundred pages. 

He writes non-fiction and fiction. 

He said: "With fiction, you just let your imagination wander." 

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Both of Craig's fiction novels have a Gurkha theme. The hero is Harry Parker who is a Gurkha officer and he has a gang of Gurkha soldiers and they get into all sorts of scrapes. They are usually set in a big business, political intiruge context.

Craig said: "When I was in the Ministry of Defence, I spent a fair bit of time doing work for ministers and going to the House of Commons and into Parliament and feeling the power and the tension."

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Craig likes to create credible characters with flaws. 

He said: "My brother very unkindly said I write about a person I would like to be. But there's elements of everybody, there's elements of my daughter in one book, and elements of my wife in another.

"In all fiction books, there's a baddie or a handful of baddies and a love interest, and a number of parallel story lines that weave across each other. We want to know what the outcome is.

Craig added: "I really like my villain in the second novel. The villain has a henchman who does all his dirty work. He is based on the most charming middle eastern fighter pilot I ever met, he is the coolest person. You can't fail to like him and he is hugely competant... but he is just bad."

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