The Raid - Fact And Fiction - Ken Merkley

By Enise Olding


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JUNE 2007 EDITION OF SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VICTORIA BC

In the beginning, Metchosin resident Ken Merkley puzzled over how the police ever got a warrant to raid the B.C. Legislature. But as events unfolded and his curiosity continually piqued, he was inspired to write about his own theory.

"While I didn't have an iota of experience in fictional writing," he says, "I decided I would like to try and my background made it easier than I thought it would be."

Ken's background helped him create The Raid, an adventurous web of intrigue, passion, greed, power, tenderness and humour peopled with colourful characters. Many aspects of his personal life enter and influence the story; from fishing to political studies, from kidney failure to financial analysis, and combine with news events that caught everyone's attention.

The oldest of seven children, Ken was born in High Prairie, Alberta and raised in the hamlet of Widewater, where his family lived on a mink ranch. His mother owned and ran the only grocery store in the hamlet, and his father was a commercial fisherman on Lesser Slave Lake.

His family's energy and enthusiasm was reflected in the young Ken who, from the age of 12, worked in the family businesses. Ken says he adored his mother who "encouraged me to work hard and, between the lines, to play hard." Which he did, engaging in many sports including football, hockey and curling. His love of sports continues – he's an avid skier, bikes, hikes and can be found on the golf course three or four times a week.

Despite delightful family outings on one of his father's boats, across the lake to picnic and pick blueberries, a serious case of seasickness while fishing convinced Ken he should find a career that would keep him off the water, and get him beyond the confines of his small hamlet. Enter the military jets on exercise from Cold Lake.

By the time he was 20, Ken had completed his Basic Officer Training, Navigation Training and Operational Training in Maritime Command, and he was well on his way to a varied and interesting career that took him to several bases across Canada. Happily for Ken, his wife, Bernadette, whom he married in Victoria in 1965, and two children shared most of his postings.

"Both our children loved the idea of moving to different bases and, even though they hated to leave friends behind, were always eager for the next move."

The family shares great memories, including lively times at the Officers' Mess in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and summers at a cottage on the mouth of the Miramachi River.

Chronic kidney failure came out of the blue and into an active and satisfying life. It ended Ken's flying career. He was posted to Royal Roads Military College to teach politics and history and, knowing that his military career was ending, Ken completed his Master of Public Administration Degree at the University of Victoria.

Ken now entered two new worlds: that of working for the Provincial Government in financial policy analysis and financial management training course development, and that of dialysis and kidney transplants. As ever, Ken embraced his new reality and immersed himself into these new aspects of life, rising to the challenges ahead.

On the career front, he eventually formed his own company delivering training services to governments and crown corporations. And, on the health front, after years of dialysis, he had a kidney transplant.

Ever the planner, Ken decided to retire at age 55, knowing his health was deteriorating and he needed a contingency plan for when he tapered down. A second transplant was on the horizon. Enter The Raid.

Never intending to publish the book, Ken says he wrote it for his own pleasure. He'd written a lot during his careers but, by his own admission, "it was all pretty boring stuff!"

50  LIFESTYLES - SL TV - MAGAZINE ARTICLE - THE RAID - Fact and Fiction - Ken Merkley - By Enice Olding - SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VICTORIA BC
Ken's editor convinced him to be a creative writer due to, among other things, his abilities to write narrative and description. So, he set to it in his usual disciplined way, scheduling four hours each morning into his busy timetable to write his book. It took eight months to complete, but the writing always came easily.

"I used extensive research and good outline and I knew where I wanted to go, but the characters unfolded as I went," he says.

Immersed in the fictional life of money laundering, influence peddling, election rigging, drug dealing, gangs and murder, Ken created a protagonist in the character of Tim Murphy, who has a few life experiences that mirror Ken's own. Although he says he didn't based Tim Murphy on himself, Ken does call upon his own experiences to enhance the narrative.

He explains why it was important for him to include a storyline in which one of the characters suffers from kidney disease.

"After receiving my first transplant, I understood how much better the quality of life is with one. But it is not just as a patient - I am a zealot about the need to increase organ donation awareness and the rate of transplantation."

Ken says it was natural for him to include this as a subplot to increase awareness and understanding of the disease, but also to reveal how others are impacted. But most poignantly, "because my daughter, Christina, gave me one of her kidneys seven years ago for my second transplant, I understand the significance of this sacrifice," he says.

When he's not promoting his book, Ken works tirelessly for the Kidney Foundation. He's a director of the Vancouver Island Safety Council and a member of the Advisory Board of BCIT's Information Technology Branch, a member of the Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin, a volunteer with the B.C. Transplant Society and an active participant in the Canadian and World Transplant Games. In between, he and Bernadette love to travel.

So what's next? Will Ken thrust main character Tim Murphy into ever more intriguing, shocking and dangerous situations? It's a strong possibility, particularly since Ken's got many more life experiences and great ideas for future storylines. He's received overwhelmingly positive feedback from readers who love the description of the story's local venues. "One person told me that it made them appreciate places more, even though they've seen those same places hundreds of times before."

One thing's for sure: Ken's precious energy, both in his genes and courtesy of his transplanted kidneys, will be used to the max.

The best way is to either pick up a copy at the Coles stores in Canwest or Tillicum or from Ivy's in Oak Bay. Better yet, refer them to my web-site at www.members.shaw.ca/kenmerkleysales, where all the details are available.  In the stores or from me the book is $24.95. The book was originally published by Trafford Publishing and is still available from them on my page on their web-site at www.trafford.com/06-1063.  However, because they print on demand, Trafford must charge $29.95 for a copy. As a result, I am now self-publishing through Ken Merkley Sales.

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