Nicholas Anderson, United Kingdom

Interviewed by Danielle Hampson
Indie Author

NOC Three Times: Knock-On Effect

  • Thriller-Spy
Fiction
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Synopsis

"Due to censorship restrictions, a veteran of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service tells a fictionalized version of his covert action experiences" Publishers Weekly

In my days there were five classified UK Eyes Only security clearance levels. The higher you went up the secrecy ladder, the less people knew about you... I held the highest security clearance level a British intelligence officer could reach. This book, the third in the NOC Trilogy covers my last five years in the field being in charge of the 'uncammo' (not in uniform) unit of the special forces, 2003-2007, which encompassed the Iraqi War and being in the field in Afghanistan, Somalia and The Yemen, among others.

For obvious reasons I must remain anonymous. I am a British citizen and a 20-year veteran of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).  I did three tours of duty, first serving in 1971-1983. I was recalled into active duty in 1992-1993 and 2003-2007, and volunteered for one more operation in 2008 after retirement.  Since that time I have been granted political asylum in France, where I now reside.

The first two books are:  “NOC - Non-Official Cover: British Secret Operations and  NOC Twice: More UK Non-Official Cover Operations.

Available in English

Interview Transcription

Danielle Hampson: As a former member of the Secret Intelligence Service of the United Kingdom, today's author writes under a pen name to protect his true identity, and of course his family. Welcome to The Authors Show®. I'm Danielle Hampson. He goes by Nicholas Anderson. He is a best-selling and award-winning British author who brings us his third book in the knock trilogy titled NOC Three Times: Knock-On Effect but this trilogy has a twist. It is a trilogy of four, four books. Well, why not? After all, a Baker's dozen counts 13, not 12, so why not a four-piece trilogy? And you will find out soon why this is as you hear from Nicholas. Now onto my guest and you will find out more about him at NicholasAnderson.info. Welcome to The Authors Show, Nicholas.

Nicholas Anderson: Hello, Danielle. Thank you for having me.

Danielle: Now for our audience, let's bring in a bit of your background before we dive into the book itself because it is very much relevant to your writing. You grew up in multiple countries, you were a national swimming champion who also played other sports, and you wanted to be a fighter pilot, but you flew a helicopter in the Royal Navy, and you ended up in secret intelligence service training.

You have said that you were born to do what you ended up doing: spying. You indeed became a spy and were involved for many years in covert operations. You speak Russian and you were involved in activities at the time of the fall of communism and the war in Iraq. I know you favor some level of secrecy on who you are, but would you like to add something else?

Nicholas: No, what I can tell you basically is I'm a 20-year veteran covert intelligence officer for the British Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, who was recalled to active duty three times in my career. MI6 is the UK equivalent of CIA for you guys in the United States.

Danielle: Now you said you wanted people to know what goes on in the world, and you also said, and I quote: "I do believe that the Russians and the Americans could not agree on building a bridge, so they dug a hole for all of us" end quote. How much did that sentiment influence your decision to transition from a spy career to becoming an author of multiple books and especially the NOC Trilogy?

Nicholas: Well, it did. I think basically I wanted closure. It wasn't a financial decision that I decided to become an author. It's just I wanted closure and I had so many stories to tell. In 2007, I decided to group together and put all my stories together. I just started a manuscript, just playing, writing some stuff down as I've always done, and it evolved into these books.

Danielle: So, do tell us a little bit about the storyline in this specific title NOC Three Times: Knock-On Effect.

Nicholas: Well, it's not one storyline, Danielle, basically each chapter is a separate story that actually happened in my career as a covert intelligence officer. Some people say you could write a book on each chapter, but if you read the book, you'll see that each chapter is completely different to the next one.

Danielle: Who is your target audience for this book, or for the entire trilogy I should say?

Nicholas: Well, mainly men interested in real-life espionage events. Some women might like it as well. It's not for kids, but what I would say is be prepared to have your preconceptions changed.

Danielle: And what is the significance of your book title? Obviously, there's a play on word there but what else?

Nicholas: Well NOC or N-O-C stands for Non-Official Cover. Sometimes known as natural cover. It was later changed to non-traditional platform as it is still known as today. NOCs were undercover and covert operations behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War to defeat communism through to operate behind enemy lines, combat in the rise in Islamic militant fascism of today.

Danielle: NOC Three Times is understandably written in the historical fiction genre, but you did mention that you had a lot of stories to tell. So, how close are the stories in your book? How close are they to reality?

Nicholas: Well, all of it is close to reality. It's all that happened in my life. Some names and dates have been changed because I'm restricted by law from telling the truth. The traditional book industry is also rather backwards. It wants to label books as either fiction or nonfiction. In fact, mine states fiction on the cover, because I'm not allowed by the powers that be to say it is nonfiction. I think faction would probably be the best to describe my books. If only the book business opens its eyes to other possibilities. As a way of explaining, I often like to say this: what's right and what's true are different.

Danielle: That is indeed often the case, more than we want to know or want to acknowledge. Let's talk a little bit about the protagonist in your book and who are also some of the characters that we will find.

Nicholas: Well, according to the dictionary, a protagonist is the main character in a novel, which proves my point in answering the previous question.

Danielle: Right.

Nicholas: Nicholas Anderson is my pseudonym. For obvious reasons, I'm not permitted to state my real name. I'm sorry. Other persons mentioned appear briefly mainly as Dave Brennan. Also not his real name, who was my colleague in MI6. He actually became disabled after being duct-taped to a boulder in Nicaragua, after being caught by the Colombian cocaine cartel in the 80s. They rolled him down in a ravine, but he survived, barely survived.

Danielle: Now, what about NOC Three Times sets it apart from other books in the same genre?

Nicholas: Well, I'm told by avid readers that my books are a combination of a British Jason Bourne and John le Carré's work. I've never read any books on 007, but from the promotional film clips I've seen, it seems like it's supposed to be a farfetched comedy. What Bond did in Ian Fleming’s head and what I did in real life are poles apart if you like.

Danielle: On your third book in the NOC Trilogy, NOC Three Times back cover, you detail the five classified UK eyes only security clearance levels. What are those security clearances and which security clearance level did you achieve?

Nicholas: I'm quite happy to read out verbatim from the back cover of the book for your listeners if that's okay.

Danielle: Sure, of course.

Nicholas: I'll add some comments. In my days there were five classified UK eyes only security clearance levels. The higher you went up the secrecy ladder the less people knew about you. Remember too, that if you're in the topmost and highest bracket IA, which is ministerial only top secret, you're either a security committee politician or government head of a ministry. Both report and only to the Prime Minister of 10 Downing street.

The 1B category was reserved for any persons involved in a non-traditional platform, military operations previously known as a non-official cover or natural cover and had an uncommon NATO designation of CTS. Just, by the way, NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. For some people who didn't know. NATO designation of CTS which is cosmic top secret attached to it as is also known in the UK. I held the highest security clearance level a British intelligence officer could reach. Basically, the most secret of secret intelligence officers.

That's what, Danielle, will separate my book or my story from other people that you may have interviewed or may interview in the future, in regards to intelligence. There are tiers to these things. There's a totem pole of hierarchy to these things and I was lucky enough to be right up there, one under ministerial level, if you like. That's why it's very important that my identity and where we stay state of discrete.

Danielle: Totally understandable indeed. Now, in the prologue, you wrote about everybody in Belize, which is located in Central America, that they knew the open secret of a British citizen who was the middle man paying the South American drug cartels for the cocaine deliveries, which in turn ensured it would be distributed in North America. Now, this same individual instructed that $25,000 be extracted from your bank account in the bank he happened to own. My question is, do you still plan to expose the corrupt official in Belize? If you do, will that be in the format of another book maybe?

Nicholas: I don't know what you mean by will that be in the format of another book. Sorry, but to be sure, I wouldn't exactly describe the British individual as a corrupt official. He's more like the Emperor or the King of Belize if you would, even though there is no such given title there. Various codes of silence exist in the world, but you must understand that all the 54 countries that are under the British Commonwealth of Nations, even though they've been running their governments their way since being granted independence, is still under the thumb of Great Britain in all sorts of ways behind closed doors, a remnant from that day of the British empire, and Belize is one of them.

The UK is the world leader in offshore monies. London is a capital of dirty money. It's also the cocaine use capital too. Those worldwide in the business of finance full well know this. We will always look the other way at the right time when the moment comes. We've done this for centuries and our history betrays this routine fact. People that aren't British should know that the libel laws are rather draconian, simply stated they don't protect any accuser from prosecution.

As a result of this, people like me can only tell our true stories in an inferred way. So, you have to read and write between the lines to grasp what's really going on. To answer your question and in the longish way around, for me to identify such a person publicly at a platform like The Authors Show would expose me to the libel laws of my country so I won't, but the people of Belize know. If you went there and asked the question, "Who is this?" Some may deflect the question, but others would tell you his name. I would add that I once met a well-known investigative reporter from the UK's right-wing rag, which is called The Daily Mail, or some prefer to say the daily fail.

Danielle: [chuckles] I'm familiar with the newspaper.

Nicholas: You probably know it as the daily fail.

[laughter]

It has the biggest daily circulation nationwide in the British Isles, Danielle, and I asked him why he doesn't expose this person we've just been talking about and his answer was, "Why should we? He's on our side." There you have it, really, plain and simple in this partisan world we live in today if you like.

Danielle: Don't we love politics and all of the behind the scenes that's going on? Oh, my gosh. That is explosive what you're talking about and of course, the layman person, the vast majority of people unless they are in the business that you are or in politics as well, they just are not at all aware of all this. Now, there's another fascinating story in your book about working for the new King of Morocco. How did that come about?

Nicholas: Well, I breached the UK Official Secrets Act when I submitted my first book manuscript for clearance. In fact, I had 400 pages redacted from the original 850. I also had two bank accounts closed. Plus, my lawyers were hearing plenty of rumblings about a warrant being issued for my arrest. As you heard earlier in describing how the British Commonwealth works globally, so for a couple of years I deliberately avoided any overseas territory that had a connection to the UK if you like, which is actually 20% of the world's landmass.

France, on the other hand, where I live now and have done on and off for the past two decades, offered me political asylum in return for a good deed I once did for the French government. As a result of this, I stopped to visit in only former French colonies until my UK legal problems are sorted out. This entailed Morocco of course, and at the turn of the century when the old king passed away, his son, who inherited the throne, wanted to modernize the whole caboodle from top to bottom, if you like. That included changing of the guards, literally changing of the guards so I was brought in to train his new personal close protection.

You have to please understand that as we mentioned before, I'm under a lifelong nondisclosure agreement so I can't use names, places, and relay information like the royal palace's layout, et cetera. Over 10 months, I selected young men and women from their armed forces for special training to become bodyguards. At the end of the day, I brought in a handful of girls which blew away the king’s inner circle because they all looked like an Arabic version of Charlie's Angels, especially in their-

[laughter]

-casino garb of long backless evening dresses. It never happened in the history of Morocco. Again, they could professionally take care of any danger in seconds as they all carried a hidden firearm on their being or in their purse. I can still see the open mouths of the ministers' faces when they saw the ladies operational for the first time. They had said that the king himself was very pleased with the outcome. It made Morocco look a contemporary nation, which it is more or less now, I suppose. That was job done.

Danielle: There's also a full chapter on the British attempt to eliminate Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2005. Six years before the US claimed to have achieved this in 2011 in Pakistan. Can you elaborate a little further on this and what thoughts were going through your mind as you were leading your men into that hostile environment for the first time?

Nicholas: Yes, I can try and give you a condensed version of that because it would normally be quite a long-winded answer. Basically, my lawyers negotiated with the British government for my return to the UK to answer the charges against me. I arrived at London Heathrow Airport on Royal Air Maroc from Casablanca on the last day of 2002. I was the last passenger escorted off and spent a nominal one day in jail. I do admit to shedding tears of emotion to be home after an absence of many years.

Part of the trade-off to avoid two years of solitary confinement in prison was serving 36 weeks in the field doing hostage negotiation, which is actually a specialty of mine, to be served over a five-year period as needed. The Iraqi war was looming then, so in a way, I repeated my Moroccan experiences as given carte blanche to handpick Special Forces soldiers to protect me in the field in dangerous situations. I chose 30 from 75 individuals who hailed from either the Special Air Service, which is the SAS, or the Special Boat Service, which is known as the SBS.

I don't know what your American equivalent would be. I suppose it would be the US Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs, the waterborne guys. The big difference was that we looked like the locals in appearance and we had interpreters with us. We were active in Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and one day we found ourselves on a special hush-hush operation in the mountains of Afghanistan's Hindu Kush in 2005, which is really the foothills of the Himalayas.

It basically was six weeks surviving in an extremely hostile environment. The planning was immense. The things that could go wrong, many! Loads of gaps in the intelligent picture, which means we had to improvise as we went along. I don't mind admitting there were times when we each got freaked out. I'm proud to have been chosen to undertake this tasking order, which was to seek and destroy high-value target number one, Osama bin Laden, at what Al-Qaeda called its lion's den.

He had many body doubles and one of my snipers summons me to stare down his telescopic gunsight attached to his long-range high-powered rifle. He and I were convinced it was him. He was perfectly doing the hand and facial mannerisms we were told to look for. It was a goosebumpy feeling. The longest short of their space is guided by us on the ground, a very expensive, secretly developed airborne equipment sort of a giant drone. It should have obliterated that mountain hideout, along with an estimated 100 Al-Qaeda fighters.

There’s no way of knowing from the rubble who survived and who didn't down there. I do know that we informed our allies of the successfully completed operation. Then nothing was heard further from Osama bin Laden. The CIA unit responsible for finding Elvis, in their internal name for him, was shuttered later that same year in 2005. Internally, we British called him the same name as he called himself, which was Abu Abdullah. Danielle, I could go on. There's a lot more to this but it'd be really interesting if people are interested in my books to read this part because there's a lot more detail in it.

Danielle: I think that will be fascinating to read indeed. That's a good segment to lead people to get the book and read all of this because it is indeed fascinating. So, whatever became of your 30 strong British Special Forces operators?

Nicholas: Some, unfortunately I can't answer what I'd like to answer on this program, but some are no longer with us. We must have done something right because the powers that be in the UK, officially in 2005 formed a new special forces unit alongside the SAS and the SBS, called the Special Reconnaissance Detachment known as SPR, which later became a 40-strong Special Reconnaissance Regiment that carries out "very specific tasks" if you like.

Danielle: So, giving all of your exploits if I may use that word, and the predicament in which you are, which is that you really can't talk too much about anything, what was the most challenging part of writing your book?

Nicholas: Well, I suppose the short answer Danielle would be I didn't have any challenges. It was already all in my head. I just wrote what happened. When you read my books, you'll see that everything's backed up. You can look in and have a look yourself and go back in time and research as much as you want. Again, I didn't really have too many challenges because it's already upstairs. It's already inside me.

Danielle: And how would you describe your writing style in this book?

Nicholas: [chuckles] Probably is staccato. Out in the field when things start to happen, there's no time to explain. Basically, you just do it. So, I had to write in the same manner as I lived it and take normal narrative and throw it out the window. This is reality. Reality doesn't fall into pre-arranged sequences. Real-life comes at you from all kinds of angles.

Danielle: I see a lot of pragmatism in the writing of your book.

Nicholas: I'm glad you enjoyed it, Danielle. It sounds like you did.

Danielle: Yes, I did. Tell us what message you are trying to disseminate, if any at all, that you're trying to disseminate to the readers?

Nicholas: Never believe what your government tells you through its cronies in the partisan media. How about that?

Danielle: [chuckles] That is so à-propos right now. We all know that, unfortunately we still do believe them. This is the last book in your trilogy. Could I pick up the third book without having read the other two and still make sense of everything or must I read the others first?

Nicholas: You could do that. Like I said previously, they're all short stories if you like each chapter. But each chapter I could go into more detail and make that a book on its own. I think it'd be best if you start from the beginning with book one and work your way through it. I actually have a fourth book as well as an addendum, as there was just too much to tell, but it's probably best you start from book one. The book one, really, it's quite explosive.

Danielle: You can call it then a trilogy plus one.

Nicholas Anderson: Yes. [laughs] You could.

Danielle: Now, the book we're talking about today was published in 2016. How have your readers responded to it?

Nicholas Anderson: Well, I get lots of emails and reviews. The large majority say they enjoy them. There's some knock it down killjoys, but you'll get that everywhere I suppose.

Danielle: Sure.

Nicholas Anderson: Each book I'm told is better than the previous one. Saying that, I'd actually like to take this opportunity and thank those that purchased my books. I'm very grateful to them. I really am.

Danielle: Well, you just mentioned that you're getting better with each book. So, can we expect another book? Do you have another book project?

Nicholas Anderson: Yes, I'm actually halfway through a fifth, the final NOC book. I'm told by many readers that each chapter could be expanded into a full-length book like I mentioned before, so look out for that one.

Danielle: All right, we will. In the meantime though, while we're waiting for your next project, where can readers find out more about you right now and most importantly, where can they purchase your book?

Nicholas Anderson: Well, all four of the NOC titles can be ordered from all bookshops worldwide or downloaded from the various online service providers. For further information, my website is NicholasAnderson.info. That's NicholasAnderson.info.

Danielle: Okay Nicholas, thank you so much for spending some time with me today. And when you release your next book, will you please come back again and share it with our audience?

Nicholas Anderson: I'd be happy to. I'd be more than happy to, Danielle.

Danielle: Here's a review excerpt that I hope will inspire you to read NOC Three Times: Knock-On Effect. "Nicholas has drawn the minds of his readers to dark and unseen corners. These stories have, at least for myself, provided a diagnostic file on maleficence and misdeeds based off historical events. I'd like to think that all readers of these series can now approach all angles of their life with a healthy amount of critical skepticism, particularly in those areas related in some way to governments and the decentralized power of oversight that people in democratic nations hold over their governments. Educating people in such a way is one of the most noble causes a person can pursue. Thank you for your writing."

NOC Three Times: Knock-On Effect is the title of the book by author Nicholas Anderson. Go out there and buy this book today. It is incredible to read, great stories. Stories although fictional, are based on true events. And when done reading it, please remember to leave a review as those are very important to authors and are very much appreciated. Also, please share this interview with your friends so that they too have the opportunity to discover our guest and his work. 

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