Busselton author pens his final book

Busselton author Chris Masterman has released his eighth book The Old Boys Club.
Busselton author Chris Masterman has released his eighth book The Old Boys Club.

Busselton author Chris Masterman had so much fun researching his eighth book The Old Boys Club after discovering a British spy had gone to the same school as him in the UK.

The Old Boys Club is based on a famous spy scandal which happened in Britain in the 1960's, known as the Cambridge Five, it involved five British people who worked for MI5 and MI6.

It was discovered intelligence officers had passed secrets to the Russians for about 20 years.

"In the end they got rumbled and all escaped to Russia, one of them is now 98 years old and still lives there," Mr Masterman said.

"What I discovered was these famous spies who went to Russia, well one of them went to my school in England," he said.

"There was this guy there at my school 20 years before I was there, how was he influenced to become a Communist spy?

"I thought I would dig into him and supposed there was a school master at this school who was subverting people, so I invented this person.

"It has been a lot of fun because the temptation was to bring in people that I knew, but you have to stay away from that and invent people.

"So I invented a whole lot of people, which were just like the people I knew, but were not the people I knew.

"I dedicated the book to three old friends who all liked the book and have come back saying they really enjoyed it because they could recognise the people I was discussing.

"It was a lot of fun doing that."

His latest novel follows on from his book The Convent Girl which is set in Broome and northern parts of WA.

"It is about a young girl from Singapore, she is a naughty girl and I wanted to write something about Australia," he said.

"We decided to move her up to Broome where she creates chaos in the 1960's.

"It was quite an interesting relationship because I was able to travel to Broome with my wife Elizabeth and try and imagine what the place was like in the 1960's.

"We went to the Roebuck Hotel which is absolutely notorious, it is a skimpy bar, and I got people talking to me about what it was like in the 60's.

"After I had written the book I had a really interesting thing, I had this girl who was clever so I decided to move her into something else."

Mr Masterman had hoped the books would form part of a trilogy, but sadly he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer two months ago.

"I am ill, I have terminal cancer so that will be the end of it, there was going to be a third book but I do not think that is coming, I just don't have the energy for it," he said.

"What I am hoping for, is that I have been putting together a diary with my thoughts on how COVID-19 has affected my relationship with my daughter."

My Masterman's daughter lives in Canada and was in Busselton when he got sick but had to leave the country so she could get back when COVID-19 travel restrictions were announced.

He decided not to tell his daughter about his illness until she arrived home.

"She is back there and terribly frustrated because she cannot come out and see me, and the big question is when we will see each other again?" he said.

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Mr Masterman wrote his first book An Average Pilot 15 years ago, which was a biography about his father who was in the British air force for a long time then got dementia later in life.

"I wrote a book contrasting what he had done as an RAF pilot who was in the war for a long time and very highly decorated, then the deterioration of him," he said.

"It did well.

"I was interviewed on ABC by Eoin Cameron who raised the profile of the book, it ended up selling reasonably well.

"It was also produced in Britain as a hardback."

Mr Masterman's love of writing comes from his interest in history and the many places he has lived around the world. He was a former engineer in the Royal Air Force.

"I have had a fortunate life and lived in lots of different places for considerable periods of time, I have lived in Japan, Singapore, Austria, Germany, Canada, Northern Island and now Australia," he said.

"With most of these books I found an episode in history which tended to be around WWII or the Cold War.

"I would get an environment then put a story into it, a lot of my stories have true people in it who I do not generate but weave my story into it.

"My book Crossing the Bridge, I was very interested in the role of Austria during WWII and the idea of Anschluss.

"Everybody thought Austria was the innocent party in the Anschluss that is not actually true, I delved into that and put a story inside it."

Mr Masterman's father had been in Norway during the war building airfields to try and keep the Nazis out of the country.

"He failed because the whole episode was a failure but I managed to put a story into that about a girl taking secrets out of Norway to try and bring them to Britain," he said.

"We went around the northern part of Scotland and found places where secret agents had been trained so I was able to use that as a background.

"That is the way I write my books."