The inspiration for Incitement’s plot came from a number of sources. It started with a basic idea which was then supplemented by research and developed organically.
I found the idea of using one evil to destroy another fascinating. How feasible would it would be for a third party to destroy two sides in a conflict by setting them against one another? I’m not sure what the specific trigger was; it could have been as mundane as hearing a radio commentary on a gangland killing in Dublin, saying something like ‘let them all kill one another’. Or it could have been a history program on the enmity between Stalin and Hitler!
Deciding on the arena in which the conflict played out was next. It had to be one where the stakes were high. Initially I thought about a gangland setting in a single city or country. Reflecting on it, though, I realised that a conflict that crossed borders and had greater collateral impact would be more enjoyable to write.
I played around with the idea of a government-backed initiative to sow discord between two elements within an extremist organisation. One obvious topic was how much cost-effective it would be to have the parties attack one another rather than have to pay for the intelligence, manpower and ordinance directly. There was also material for interesting subplots, e.g. if the initiative was too successful, other parties whose existence depended on there being a credible terrorist threat could try to subvert or sabotage the operation.
Reading about state-backed initiatives against terrorist and criminal organisations I came across Plan Colombia. The Plan was a joint Colombian-US initiative launched in 1999 to bring the drug war to the doorstep of the main producers in Colombia. It involved applying military resources, in the form of fumigation runs from the air and troop movements on the ground, to forcibly eject the growers from their territorial strongholds. There was an added foreign policy angle as countries such as Peru and Brazil complained strongly to the US that they were forcing the drugs conflict into their territory. Factoring in the added elements of military contractors and the Plan’s targeting of left-wing militias such as Farc and the ELN, I knew I had found a rich backdrop for Incitement. So the real-world Plan Colombia became the template for my fictitious Plan Coca.
Now that I knew Incitement would centre on the drugs trade, I had to find two suitable adversaries. Ideally I wanted the conflict to spill out beyond Central and South America, so I created an alliance consisting of a number of Latin American countries to form one side of the struggle, called simply The Madrigal Alliance. The other antagonist had to based outside the Americas, and in my research I came across a group of Albanian mafia called The Fifteen Families who had existed for decades then been supercharged by the conflict in Kosovo. The Fifteen Families had the resources, ambition and ruthlessness to take on my fictional Alliance – in reality they had already successfully expanded into Europe by brutally supplanting the incumbent gangs . An added attraction of the Fifteen Families was its links to extremist organisations (although the subplot on this angle didn’t make the final edit).
I was happy with what I had so far but unless I could create a party who would have something to gain by inciting the parties to war it wouldn’t work. The obvious candidate would be a third drugs cartel but I didn’t find that compelling to write about. The next idea was a government backed agency and the first couple of drafts went in this direction. But what became apparent was that the book was becoming too focused on state-agencies (I already had Europol, the State Department, the CIA and the DEA involved). I needed to introduce contrast and eventually decided that a personal motivation would work best.
Given how large the drugs trade is for any individual to believe he could impact it he would have to be either delusional or exceptional. The inspiration for Wallace was the industrialists of the early twentieth century, people like Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller who wielded enough power to influence US and world events. A modern incarnation of someone like this might have the necessary power (and hubris?) to believe they could orchestrate the conflict. An added bonus was someone who was motivated by a personal tragedy might be open to manipulation if others discovered what they were doing.
There are quite a few twists in Incitement. All the way through the reader knows more than Mesi (the DEA agent trying to figure out what’s behind the conflict) and Larsen (the mercenary who is fuelling the conflict) but not everything. Its a question of whether the reader can figure out the final twist before they do.
WINNER THE JOHN MURRAY SHOW / RTE GUIDE / KAZOO COMPETITION
A brutal conflict unleashed.
Who stands to win?
A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the ruthless assassination of a Kosovar drug lord - a war has erupted between two drugs superpowers.
As DEA Agent Diane Mesi investigates she becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party. But she is marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. Only if she can expose the truth will she be able to stop the violence and save her career.
Michael Larsen is an ex-soldier and hired mercenary who has been contracted to fuel the conflict at every opportunity until it destroys both sides. As he battles his own demons, he hopes that by directing the violence he will attain some measure of redemption.
But neither Mesi nor Larsen know the full extent of the forces at play or of what is truly at stake. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly vulnerable to the dangers that stalk them.
Incitement won the John Murray Show / RTE Guide / Kazoo Competition from over 500 entries.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
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