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Interview: Mark van Leewarden talks about CrimeTime

Mark van Leewarden is a barrister based in Auckland specialising in international fraud investigations. He is the managing director of Warden Consulting Ltd, a private investigation and security company. Mark holds an LL.B (Hons) degree from Canterbury University, graduating in 1989. He is a former police undercover agent and detective.

Continuing to operate in the investigation field, he is also developing an international motorcycle tour business called Planet Chopper with bases in Auckland and Virginia, USA. Mark talks to NZ Booklovers about his book CrimeTime.

Tell us a little about CrimeTime.

CrimeTime tells the true story of living as an undercover agent in 1970’s Auckland. It details what it was like, the characters, the deals and serious crime uncovered, including murder. It follows my subsequent career as a Detective exploring hijinks with the Auckland CIB, and my covert role during the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour. It covers being a bodyguard protecting royalty and politicians, through to qualifying as a Barrister and entering the murky international fraud investigation game, tangling with organised crime.

What inspired CrimeTime?

The book came about as Alan Duff the author of ‘Once Were Warriors’ contacted me six years ago, asking if he could write a book about my adventures. He set about to write it, but came back to me saying he couldn’t do it, as the story needed my voice. I didn’t think I could write a book, but with Alan’s support and encouragement I set about to do so and CrimeTime is the result.

What was your process when writing the book?

During the process of writing the book, I was engaged in international investigations; so the book was written in an array of locations including hotels, outside my gym, on aircraft and the cafes of Paris, Rome, London, and New York. Large tracts of the book were written at my holiday home in Naseby, Central Otago.

If you could include a soundtrack to accompany the book, what songs would you choose?

A soundtrack might include “The Recap” by The Dead South, “Tweeter and the Monkeyman” by the Travelling Wilburys and “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop.

If CrimeTime was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters?

Jason Statham as Emu, Mel Gibson for Roo, Cliff Curtis would need to play Rick, Keisha Castle-Hughes as Paula, KJ Apa for Joe, Hailee Steinfeld as Ruby and Mia Wasikowska for Ainsley.

What did you enjoy most about writing CrimeTime?

It would be inaccurate to describe the writing of this book as enjoyable. It required me to regurgitate and explore memories that had been buried for decades, however the process proved cathartic.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading the book?

My hope is readers will gain an insight into the challenges faced by all undercover agents and their operators.

What is the favourite book you have read this year and why?

‘The Devil in the White City’ by Erik Larson is this years favourite book-for its historical context, layered intermeshing story and nuanced writing.

What's next on the agenda for you?

I am currently half way through a crime novel about two undercover agents who infiltrate a motorcycle gang.

Quentin Wilson Publishing

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