Last year Simon Chambers had his debut book published by Percy Publishing. He kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.
Can you tell me a little bit about ‘Devil’s Playground’ please?
After serving my full 22 years in the army of which 16 years was with Airborne units and then finishing my army career with several years in the Territorial Army, I was looking around for something along the same lines. I didnt like being a civilian and was still pretty fit for my age. I got the opportunity to work for Eric Prince of Blackwater after being reccomended by some of my American Special Forces friends and was the only British Para on Paul Bremers bodyguard team in Iraq. It was 2004 and we were in some pretty tight situations. It was still early days and Iraq resembled the wild west. Mercinaries/Contractors were doing some very difficult jobs but still getting some pretty bad press and when any of us were killed or wounded we wouldnt appear in the military casualty figures. We were an asset they could forget if they needed to. People though we were highly paid killing machines with no rules of engagement. Nothing could be further from the truth and so I decided to look over my daily ‘Battlefield’ notes and write about it. Try to set the record straight so to speak.
The book explains the problems getting into this line of bussiness and then doing your best to keep the job while trying not to get shot and blown up. It should put a lot of people off even contemplating this line of work. I hope it gives the reader a good idea of the daily life of a bodyguard in the early days in Iraq and describes some of the incidents that would not have made the press.
What inspired you to write this book?
As I said I wanted to try to set the record straight. Some of the things I saw civilian security contractors do when under fire would have got them a medal had they still been serving. Some of my own team and others on the same contract were killed and I myself ended up getting shot and wounded. This made me more determined to write about our operations.
Did it take you long to write?
It took me about 6 months to write but I was then threatened by Blackwater and told I couldnt publish the book even though I had originally asked and got their permission. Until Clifford Marker from Percy Publishing took me on board I had tried for almost 10 years without any luck.
Did you have to do any research for it?
Very little as I had a daily diary of virtually everything that had happened. Most of what happened was etched firmly in my minds eye. It also helped that I took many photos, over 1000, which helped jog my memory on some incidents. I did a little research on events going on around us at the same time and I researched the Karbala incident mentioned at the back of the book as this happened some time after we had handed the CPA over to the US Army.
Have you got any other writing projects on the go?
I’m a staff writer for Airsoft Action Magazine and I’ve books 2 and 3 already written and waiting for Percy Publishing to help me edit them. These are on my further career with other companies working on different Iraqi projects.
Describe a day in your life.
At the moment I’m waiting for the start of another ‘Security project’ once again in a Hostile enviroment. Its what I do and enjoy. Its also the reason I have to use a pen name to maintain Operational security. Im busy writing course programs, editing my books and keeping people informed via the internet and facebook…and drinking lots of coffee.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I parachute in my spare time and belong to an organisation called Pathfinder Parachute Group Europe. We specialise in jumping with round military static line parachutes for fun and as part of our efforts to keep the veterans in the public eye we represent them every year by jumping into Normandy and Arnhem in WW2 uniform and from a Dakota aircraft. At least 80 percent of the guys are former Paratroopers from all around the world. 27 countries were represented within Pathfinder last count. Jumping with these guys helps keep me sane.
‘Devil’s Playground’ is available from Amazon:-