Guest Author Toni Anderson on her British SAS Hero

I was thrilled to be invited on Attacking the Page. The hero in my upcoming release, EDGE OF SURVIVAL, is Daniel Fox, a former British SAS Sergeant. This is how I originally described him to my editor.

“For the past two years, disgraced British former-SAS Sergeant, Daniel Fox, has forged a career as a helicopter pilot in the Canadian bush, living as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying is the only thing that makes his unwanted civilian life bearable. His mantra is not to get involved, but even booze and women can’t keep the dead out of his head. And the worse the nightmares get, the more he retreats from society.”

I’m never sure how much non-Brits know about Britain’s beloved SAS so here’s a brief history.

The Special Air Service (SAS) came to being in WWII, the brainchild of Sir David Stirling, then a lieutenant in the Scots Guards. The SAS was used as a strategic fighting force, small elite bands of men, going behind enemy lines, facing overwhelming odds, tying down thousands of enemy troops while destroying key military equipment and installations by means of surprise, speed and guile. After WWII, the SAS were disbanded, but as conflicts around the globe broke out they were quickly reformed again.

Over the years the SAS has grown and adapted from the original desert raiders, to experts in jungle warfare, to counter-terrorism (honed in Northern Ireland and adapted for the new global theatre), and hostage rescue missions (is there anyone who hasn’t watched them storm the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980?). The initial Selection process is grueling and they only take the very best of the best.

Americans might be interested to learn that Colonel Charles Beckwith, the instigator of Delta Force, did an exchange tour with the British SAS in the early sixties. This was apparently the impetus to set up a similar unit in the US Army.

It’s funny, because I was just watching a trailer for THE KILLER ELITE and Clive Owen talked about why he was drawn to his role as a former SAS operative and what he said was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to explore in EDGE OF SURVIVAL. What happens to these extraordinary soldiers when they get out? Are they expected to sit around collecting their pension? Watching Coronation Street and having a beer in the pub? Through a friend of mine I was lucky enough to make contact with (strangely enough) a British ex-SAS turned Canadian helicopter pilot and he opened up to me about how a man like my hero might feel if he were forced out of the SAS under a cloud of disgrace. So I feel like I got good insight into my hero’s psyche.

It was a challenge writing the action scenes in this book, because I am not, nor have I ever been, an elite SAS soldier J. I did read everything I could get my hands on, and watched countless DVDs. One book that was great for step-by-step planning of the major fight scenes in the story was called ‘THE SAS SELF-DEFENSE HANDBOOK’ by John “Lofty” Wiseman. Everything I’ve read about the SAS suggests they don’t go looking for trouble. SAS can also stand for Speed and Aggression, which they say is the key to winning any hand-to-hand combat situation in the shortest possible time.

Because of his background my hero didn’t back away from seemingly insurmountable odds, but neither did he have great expectations about the income. He was willing to get his ass kicked to keep the heroine safe. Daniel Fox isn’t some muscled superhero with an iron-plated sternum, he is very much a flesh-and-blood guy with a deep-rooted sense of honor. I hope I gave him the chance to prove how honorable he is during the story, and I hope I do justice to the soldiers in the Regiment.

Thanks for having me at ATTACKING THE PAGE. It has been a pleasure!

EDGE OF SURVIVAL (November 21st 2011, from Carina Press)

Foreword by Brenda Novak

Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn’t be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn’t expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.

Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don’t get involved. But when he’s charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can’t help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he’s desperate to suppress.

In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her…

My heroine has diabetes and I’m donating 15% of my royalties to diabetes research.

Toni Anderson is a former marine biologist who conducted her Ph.D. at the Gatty Marine Laboratory in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.  She was born and raised in the U.K., but now lives in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children, living about as far from the ocean as possible.

Her stories are set in the stunning locations where she’s been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and the Red Center of Australia.  She escapes the long brutal Canadian winters by writing Romantic Mystery and Suspense stories.

Check out Toni’s website for a list of current titles, her blog and Facebook Author Page for writing news and her personal Facebook page and Twitter for constant nonsensical chatter. She is also part of a wonderful group blog—Not Your Usual Suspects. Come introduce yourself.

20 responses to “Guest Author Toni Anderson on her British SAS Hero

  1. Not only was the SAS the model for Delta, it was (and is) the model for most modern Special Forces. I knew an ex-SAS operative way back when. They’re a good bunch of folks. 😉

    Novel looks great, Toni!

  2. Sounds like another fabulous read, Toni! Fascinating background information.

  3. Thanks, Shawn 🙂 I admit to a huge amount of hero worship. The hero of my next book is also SAS. Could be a hard habit to break.

  4. Thanks, Cindy. I have loved all the research 🙂 And Hereford (where they are mainly based) is not far from where I grew up in England so it’s a really nice connection.

  5. That’s really cool information – I tend to be a ‘social’ history geek (dresses, manners and the fine arts) so learning about military history is always neat.

    And as for those long, brutal Canadian winters you write to escape – my Prairie friends assure me it’s a dry cold (like that makes -30C more bearable or something!) 🙂


    • Elyse–my dad is former military and a huge military history buff. I absorbed way too much! Funnily enough my mom used to collect antique clothes and donated several pieces to BBC drama unit. You’d have loved her stuff 🙂 As for the cold. -30C is not a problem. -40Cs are a different matter entirely 🙂 And this isn’t the prairies, this in Winnipeg 🙂 (LOL just kidding)

  6. I love a haunted, wounded hero, and I can’t wait to read this one. I’m writing a story now about a veteran. LOVE IS THE GREATEST HEALING AGENT THERE IS! Great post.

  7. Barbara, I couldn’t agree more 🙂 And thanks.

  8. Wow! What great information. How do you not get totally enthralled with researching such a subject 🙂 And your heroine sounds just as amazing as your hero! Can’t wait to read this one!

  9. Great idea, Toni. I wish you all the best with it.

  10. Fascinating post, Toni. The book sounds thrilling. I can’t wait to read it! And thanks for blogging with us today. It’s been a pleasure.

  11. Cathy, I’m afraid I get totally enthralled 🙂 I’m using the research for more than one book though so hopefully I can justify the hours of reading and tv watching 🙂

  12. Melinda, thanks for having me here today 🙂

  13. I’ve been waiting for this one, sounds so exciting! I found all the details about your research fascinating….best wishes!

  14. Thank you, Veronica 🙂

  15. I hate doing research, but I love books where the author did a lot but integrates it seamlessly. Thanks for the very interesting background for this! I’m adding your book to my wish list. 🙂

  16. Hate research? Really, Nat? I’m shocked 🙂
    Thanks for adding it to your wishlist. You can judge the seamlessnessness of the story and the research. Lemme know 😉

  17. Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article.
    Many thanks for providing this information.

  18. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a
    little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures.

    Maybe you could space it out better?

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