‘Trump is my chief publicist’, says Sidmouth author of fake news thriller

Norman Hartley

Norman Hartley - Credit: Archant

A retired journalist turned his BBC and Reuters training on its head to enter the realm of ‘fake news’ for his latest thriller.

The Saxon Games by Norman Hartley

The Saxon Games by Norman Hartley - Credit: Archant

Self-published Sidmouth author Norman Hartley said President Donald Trump is his greatest publicist for his new book, The Saxon Games: Special Forces v Social Media.

A follow-up to 2012’s The Saxon Network that can be read independently, it opens with the heroic intelligence network celebrating the capture of financial crook Ray Vossler.

While he is awaiting trial, he finds a new way to save his skin – engulfing protagonist John Saxon and his colleagues in a web of lies that bring their careers and reputations to the brink of ruin.

“I thought fake news would be the ideal way to fight back,” said Norman, 82.

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“I’m pleased to say Donald Trump is my chief publicist.

“I took my Reuters training and turned it on its head. We were always told, ‘If in doubt, leave it out’, because Reuters hates issuing corrections.

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“The book features an online news agency that is everything Reuters isn’t – anyone can contribute and there’s no mediation.

“It’s citizen journalism gone mad.

“It’s not a commentary on fake news, I’m just aware of it as a lifelong journalist.

“There’s always been fake news, but now it’s side by side with the real stuff, and if you don’t know the source, it can be very tempting to believe.

“It’s not meant to be a treatise on the evils of fake news, but it was the perfect vehicle for Vossler to fight back.”

The book, a fun thriller, is set around Portland Bill and Weymouth around the sailing Olympics – an unfamiliar sport to Norman but one he researched thoroughly.

The Woolbrook Close resident volunteers for Sidmouth Lifeboat and was introduced to the crew in Weymouth, where the coxswain was among the fact-checkers and said the book was ‘terrific’.

Norman, who also worked for the BBC World Service, is already planning another book in the series, admitting he has grown to like the characters.

He will be speaking at a ‘meet the author’ event at Kennaway House, from 2.30pm, on Thursday, September 14.

The Saxon Games and its predecessor are available on Amazon.

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