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Save Me From The Dullness Of Reality

Harry Old
Harry Old Author Interview

Operation Bluebird is an intense thriller following a young police officer who goes undercover to bust the mysterious, affluent and criminal Park family. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

Operation Bluebird was never supposed to be a book. It started out as the backstory to a character in a roleplay game with my sisters – our characters were detectives and I wanted mine (Carrie) to have something interesting in her past. I’m an auditor in my day job and was working on a very busy, stressful client at the time so Bluebird was my escapism when I finally got to bed in the evening, really coming to life in my mind to ‘save’ me from the dullness of reality. I wanted to be daydreaming about exciting and emotional situations, which is how the intensity of the story started to come about. I was listening a lot to Lana Del Rey at the time, and her songs really shaped the feel of the decadent gangster lifestyle and the underlying bittersweet knowledge that such things are eventually doomed to fail. The occasional lighter-hearted moments were also inspired by the album “Time for Us” by GFriend – these songs still make me cry.

Then the characters basically took charge of themselves, making things occur without me really even thinking about it. For example, a lot of the events in the story were an intentional chain reaction planned by Soju (the manipulative third Park brother). These scenes popped into my head as exciting things to daydream about, and I only realised later that they were all his doing!

In short, I think the main inspiration for the intense, immersive world and the thrilling things that happen in it stem from my own frustrated desire for an exciting, dangerous life, along with the understanding that such things which appear exciting on the outside are sensationalised in our minds, perhaps by the media, and are actually darker and more painful than we comprehend.

Carrie is a well developed character that I enjoyed following. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

In a way, Carrie developed as I did. She first came into being at the beginning of 2019 and continued to grow until I eventually decided to write it as a novel in summer 2020. To begin with, she was a hardworking detective with a secret past, then as more and more detail entered my mind I became more emotionally invested in the goings on of Operation Bluebird and so did she. What started as a deliberate plan and a bit of fun stole us both into its world, tempting us and tugging at our heartstrings.

My life also, completely accidentally, started to mirror hers, which I think is a large part of how I could write her so realistically. When Covid isn’t around, I work contracts and travel in between, rejecting the ordinary world and doing expensive and impulsive things that most of my family and friends aren’t too pleased with. This polarity between sense and disorder, and my increasing resentment of the sensible side, reflected Carrie’s split between her police work and the crazy life she lives with the Parks. I, too, began my adult life very unsure of myself – determined to succeed but at the expense of really letting go and acting on my true feelings – so I really understand the thrill of finally finding a chance to go wild and not wanting to give it up, even when it is obviously temporary and potentially incredibly damaging.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Addiction is a main theme that is very important, both on the surface through Taehwan’s substance abuse and as an underlying metaphor through Carrie’s fascination with the world of Paradise Casino. The book showcases how easy it is to get carried away: she begins with a curiosity that she believes she can dabble in with no consequences and doesn’t realise how dependent she is becoming on it until it’s too late, then can’t get out even if she wants to. The effects on herself and Taehwan are catastrophic, but perhaps the most tragic aspect of this theme is David. He is intentionally understated, as Carrie’s attention is focused more and more on Paradise, and is an example of how a person’s addiction not only affects themselves but also those who care about them, while being so absorbed in it they hardly notice the impact they’re having.

The other main theme is the struggle between two worlds; that which feels real and alive, and that which eventually has to prevail for what the majority would see as the greater good. It’s up to the reader to decide which they believe to truly be the ‘right’ way to live, but I think to some extent it is a struggle we all face – the requirement to conform to society and the common understanding of ‘good’ versus a frustration at the box it keeps us in and a secret desire to break out. Carrie’s reluctance to return to a normal life and Taehwan’s intense fear of being trapped, preferring to live in the most destructive way possible, is a reflection of these feelings and the different extents to which people accommodate or are destroyed by them. I’m very interested to see the opinions of different readers on which characters they sympathise with and if they agree with their choices.

Of course there are many other smaller themes too, such as family, honesty and the excesses of the upper class. Every character has at least one goal or insecurity that plagues them, and I personally find Margot’s sacrifices for a comfortable life a poignant side-plot.

On reflection, perhaps the most important theme of all is that nobody is perfect, but if you look hard enough everybody has their reasons to be so.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Honestly, I have no idea! I have a few things that have been floating around for a while but don’t want to force myself into any one of them until I feel that I can really put my heart into it and do it justice. Perhaps this will be in a few months, perhaps over a year – or perhaps something new will burst in and recruit a lot of coffee and Red Bull to get a first draft completed in a matter of weeks! Either way, based on my track record it will be very character-based and probably involve alcohol and fake names…

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“I’m not an addict,” he scowled, still running his hands over the floor. “I can stop any time I want; I just don’t want to yet.”
Carrie Hart became Cara Parry for three reasons: to prove herself as an undercover detective; to bring justice to the people who killed Lucy Flynn; and to trial a life of letting go, with no consequence for her real self.
But under the intoxicating lights of Paradise Casino, lines are blurred and letting go becomes a question she had never thought to ask:
Who is the real Carrie Hart, and where do her loyalties truly lie?

Operation Bluebird

Operation Bluebird by [Harry Old]

Operation Bluebird is a gripping and intense psychological thriller following Carrie, a promising young police officer who is assigned to a deep cover job to bust the mysterious and filthy rich criminal-mastermind Park family. However, the Parks are smart and their world is more dangerous than anything she has faced before. As Carrie dives further into the Park family’s secrets, she becomes more intertwined with them, but Operation Bluebird must be carried out successfully for the greater good.

The suspense in the book is absolutely exquisite. Most of the time there is a constant level of subtle tension broken periodically by spikes of heart pounding action and plot twists. The whole story hooked me from the start and I could not put it down. Additionally, reading about the lives of the obscenely rich and privileged was fascinating. Readers will find themselves desperately attempting to live vicariously through the Park family. Each part of the story added a new element that made it more complex and lifelike. I almost believed that the Park family and Carrie did exist after a few chapters. Undoubtedly the vivid characterization contributed to this. Each Park family member has his own sinister character, although some have surprising silver linings. Carrie as well is a strong and inspiring female lead who is intelligent, bold, and sensitive. The other characters are distinctive and have strong motivations and personalities, especially the female characters, which is a breath of fresh air in a genre that tends to be lacking in this arena.

The book is a wonderfully told tale and I could only find one flaw. The flashbacks in the beginning are slightly confusing at first. Although they do make sense later, it is a bit difficult to determine what is going on for the first few pages. This does not affect the overall enjoyment of the novel, but it should be noted so readers are aware.

Operation Bluebird was a joy and adventure to read. It was suspenseful and had characters both lovable and detestable that form a mesmerizing world that readers will easily fall into. The plot has amazing twists that are never predictable. Mystery and intrigue permeates every chapter of this romance suspense novel. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy an impassioned and captivating crime thriller.

Pages: 295 | ASIN: B08RWNY52R

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