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Former NBR publisher launches career as political thriller writer — and outsells Grisham

Barry Colman's novel about a Chinese invasion of northern Australia has become a best-seller, topping John Grisham on Amazon Australia's political fiction list.

Nevil Gibson
Mon, 09 Jan 2017

• Read a sample chapter of A Line Too Far here or view it at Amazon here. 

Former NBR publisher Barry Colman has become a best-selling thriller writer.

His first novel about a Chinese invasion of northern Australian, A Line Too Far, has risen to number one on Amazon’s ranking of political fiction list in Australia, topping John Grisham. It has also made it to the top 100 political thrillers list on every Amazon English-speaking site. 

A Line Too Far, which is published in print and online formats, starts with a lightning, overnight invasion by Chinese elite forces of vast, sparsely-populated, resource-rich areas of northern Australia.

The Australian Prime Minister is issued an ultimatum to agree to new borders in 10 days or face fullscale war. New Zealand inevitably becomes embroiled in the confrontation.

Mr Colman’s venture into fiction writing has been enabled by publishing company Digital Strategies, whose principal Martin Taylor was a former publisher of IDG titles in New Zealand.

He says mainstream publishers had rejected the book and the sales have been achieved without it being available in any bookstore outlets yet in Australia.

The only New Zealand stockist is Time Out bookshop in Mt Eden, Auckland.

High praise from reviewers
Mr Taylor says Digital Strategies has promoted the book through social media outlets and it is also in the top 10 political best sellers in the UK, where it had reached ninth, one place below John Grisham’s The Confession.

Because of Amazon’s global platform, A Line Too Far has risen in the US from 77th to 12th in its category while in Canada it is 38th.

Mr Taylor says A Line Too Far has received high praise from most reviewers and is rated at four and a half stars on Amazon.

“The ratings for an unknown author have been impressive,” he says. “It’s attracting far more international sales than we had expected. It seems to have taken off.

“I think the subject matter has hit a nerve among a lot of readers and it’s an exceptionally fast-paced thriller.”

Mr Colman, who writes under the pseudonym BC Colman, has homes on the Gold Coast and in Auckland.

Number one with a bullet

Invasion threat to Australia
He says the book is inspired by the real prospect of an invasion threat to Australia.

“In 1911, Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin said, ‘Either we must accomplish the peopling of the Northern Territory or submit to its transfer to some other nation,’" he says.

“And in 1942, as the threat of Japanese invasion of Australia loomed, Edward Ward, the Minister for Labour and National Services, accused the previous government of a secret plan – the ‘Brisbane Line’ – that would have seen Northern Australia abandoned in the event of a Japanese invasion.

“In A Line Too Far, I draw attention to an all-too-real scenario for the present day, highlighting that the basis of these fears might be just as relevant today as it was generations ago.”

Mr Colman’s career in journalism includes being a staff reporter on the Sunday Mail and Courier-Mail in Brisbane before he launched his Property Press business, which was later sold to the then ACP (now Bauer).

• Read a sample chapter of A Line Too Far here or view it at Amazon here. 

Nevil Gibson
Mon, 09 Jan 2017
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Former NBR publisher launches career as political thriller writer — and outsells Grisham