Almost four weeks in and I’m writing my first blog of the New Year – belated wishes that yours will be happy, prosperous and peaceful. No doubt by now, you’ve expressed and conveyed many such wishes. After all, the New Year is a time of hope and renewal.

Three days into 2020, perhaps also, like me, you were a tad or more horrified to find #WW3 trending on social media?

The drama/panic ensued after the US -Trump decision to assassinate the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani – a move which shocked me, due to my interest and research on the Syrian war since 2014 (which came into play for my latest novella – more below). From what I knew, he was a highly respected and revered military leader in the region, and I could not comprehend the rationale for this act. I still can’t.

Even CNN praised him for his crucial role in the fight against ISIS a few years ago, as a viral take on Twitter from a Robert de Niro parody account reminded us.

To be fair, if attempts to manufacture Western consent for this aggression were lame, they were stepped up after the event to make up for it.

However, the purpose here is not to engage with the ‘ins and outs’ of the justifications coming from Trump & Co, or the consequences, but the worrisome issue of lies and propaganda prepping us for and prolonging wars.

Why do so many contemporary mainstream journalists seem unwilling to challenge or even scrutinise the government narrative? (UK now has the least trusted press in Europe.) Recently, a Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad resigned over the unwillingness of his bosses to cover the developing scandal of the OPCW report on Douma, Syria. “Truth is what matters most to me,” he says in the article.

In that he shares the values of Dylan, the young protagonist of the first sequel to the Stalkbook series of novellas. About to graduate with a degree in Journalism, Dylan is uncertain about the future and aspires to a career as an honest, investigative reporter, committed to truth and willing to hold it to power.

However, when things go badly wrong for the aid convoy to Syria which he is accompanying, his own truth becomes compromised in the murky depths of war. Find out more about Dylan’s extraordinary experiences in Casualty Of War.

Get to know the Stalkbook characters in a free prequel when you sign up to my Reader’s group here.