I am often asked, what made you write? It is a good question actually and hard to explain. The idea of a book forms in your brain and then you start figuring it out and soon you have a book in concept form. Right, but you still need to sit down and write it and that is really the easy part for me. I know in general what the book will do and I made notes of other books from which we can take ideas for a new book. However, I will deny that a book is planned. I do not plan books meticulously as some authors do (and good luck to them), I just know that I want to explore something or a previous book created a new story. It is not hard, not difficult and surely beats working for a living.
If you add the fiction books, under another name, I have now written more than two dozen books, yes, on average about 240 pages each. They go from the police books, which are memoirs and have all the faults inherent to such books to counter terrorism, legal, business, relationships, cookbooks and then of course, my favourites, the spy novels. Mind you, many disagree that the spy novels are that genre, spy novels, some say they are more action books, Special Forces and covert operations mixed with romance and fun! I can tell you this, you will not read a book written by me or my alter ego, without learning about history or laughing a bit (mostly at me which is also good). And I dare say, based on feedback, I am getting better at it but the question remains, why?
The police books, the Mean Streets Series, were the first and I wrote them because I was fed up (to put it mildly) on the politically correct crap which is published in South Africa about that time period of our lives. The few books I read were mostly very good stories but explained nothing of interest to the student of history. I wanted to understand why an honourable police force became an “instrument of terror” as we were described in the newspapers abroad and sometimes at home (they had guts, those liberal journalists). Hence I looked at it firstly from the viewpoint of a legal expert and then from my own perspective as I actually was there, experiencing it. I likewise wanted to show the funny side of being in the police during those days and I did, some of the stories are retold to me in great detail by readers. It really was a wonderful life, we had so much fun and I think back with a smile.
Yet the Mean Streets Series caused nasty comments from many, some comments deservedly so. All my books are (the spy novels are professionally edited) home grown. It was interesting how some attacked the grammatical errors mercilessly – with a 100 000 words plus book, there will be a few errors, it is inevitable. Others were more idiotic with comments on what the policemen said (I used the language of the day) and one complaint bitterly that I betrayed the Force being a liberal myself (that hurt). Whatever, I wrote the books because I wanted to close a chapter in my life. At that stage I was out of the police for twenty odd years and had no contact with them at all except professionally. I moved on but the nightmares and anger remained because I knew we were not only used and abused but discarded by weaker men than us, the so called Nationalist Party politicians who could not run away fast enough. Even today the resentment about them is tangible in me, they are cowards as I said in the Mean Streets Series and I still await a single one to sue me for saying that. I suppose this comes out in the books which is why some reckons they are the best books ever written about the South African Police Force (not my words). Most certainly they are legally correct, they do explain a lot which for some are boring. The books are so much deeper than the usual “I was there” type of books that they cannot be classified under the normal autobiographies as far as I am concerned. I know they are used as reference works for many a PhD thesis overseas – despite me clearly warning not to do so. So for me, it was simply to say, here is my story, do what you want. Learn from it or run from it or whatever, I feel good having written them and they are not for the faint of heart as they describe a time which was difficult, to say the least.
What makes me the happiest about them? I can give you many examples. I made friends all over the world, some read my fiction books also and loved it – they should, same writing style. Some former members said to me the books helped them to make peace with themselves, with their parents, with their children etc. and wives wrote to say they understand their husbands now. Such support (pride) made me happy but the best of all? Well, as you know I wrote my late wife into the books as “my America Patriot” and she became more famous than me, especially under the female readers (more than males, weirdly so).
I often get letters in Afrikaans or English addressed to her – all of them say our love was extraordinary, beyond belief almost - they love her to pieces and she is a wonderful woman. Yes, she is since she is alive in Heaven, I will get to her, don’t you worry. When it is my time, I will run to her. But in the meantime, where her letters are in Afrikaans, I translate them and I read it to her in English. This means more to me than money. Since we recently got the books in print, that is in paper, she is there, on the back page with me as she wrote them as much as I did. And so I found peace and that is why I write, I find peace in words, not in explosions, not in tears or confrontation. Writing, to put it simply, makes me happy. I am in control.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.