It's fun being a journalist reading journalist Tim Ayliffe's book about a journalist. Does that even make sense?
Ayliffe, who is managing editor of television and video for ABC News, made his mark with his debut novel The Greater Good in 2018, a thriller ripped straight from the headlines starring battered war correspondent John Bailey.
Now Ayliffe and Bailey are back with State of Fear, and again the plot reads like a newspaper story, this time the focus is on global terrorism.
A woman is murdered in London, Bailey just happens to be on the scene, and the mastermind behind the attack is the terrorist who captured and tortured Bailey in Iraq a decade ago. Back in Sydney, things are heating up in Bailey's home town, with terrorist cells targeting his loved ones.
There's some fairly timely stuff in this novel, but what makes it fun, in a way, is Ayliffe's commentary on the state of the media in 2019.
"One of the challenges for the media as it changes is being able to report what's going on and the facts and the fact that there are a lot of parts of the media now that aren't interested in facts anymore," says Ayliffe.
"They're just interested in making readers feel something whether it's based on the truth or not."
Ayliffe and I have both been watching the Stan series The Loudest Voice, starring Russell Crowe as Fox News executive Roger Ailes. Among many other sordid things the show addresses this very thing.
"People don't want to be informed. They want to feel informed," Ailes says at one point.
Ayliffe says Donald Trump's presidency (ironically, The Loudest Voice suggests Ailes was instrumental in getting Trump elected) and the Brexit debate are two examples of this.
"The UK Independence Party and its supporters have distorted the entire debate to make it about what's quintessentially British and then what's good for Britain, they made them the same thing," he says.
"But it's far more complicated than that and people are realising that now after three prime ministers and no Brexit deal.
"With the way the media has changed you can deliver that message, that populist message, really easily because it turns up in people's social feeds, that's where they get their news, they are almost ignorant of the fact that they're not necessarily getting the facts but they just accept there is something in what this person is saying that they agree with."
Bailey is an old-school journalist who is frustrated by these changes, while a younger colleague collates tweets and posts, he's out on the scene, literally involved on the scene on way too many occasions perhaps, finding out the who, what, where, why and how.
"There's a lot that young journalists coming through today can learn from the likes of John Bailey, to be a journalist you have to pick up the phone, you've got to be on the scene, you've got to be talking to the players, you don't just go online and harvest information from looking online or from news agency feeds.
"But in some way he's got his head in the sand a bit because he's ignoring all the exciting parts of the news media which means more people have voices and you can access news in more places than ever before and we're more connected than we ever were.
"But if you look at what we've seen in global politics, in what's happened with groups like the Islamic State and the way they've managed to manipulate the media and use social media as a propaganda arm, is that we don't know how to manage and regulate this new media world, we're still in this place of disarray.
"The big media companies have a huge, huge challenge on their hands but also a responsibility."
Ayliffe is keen to point out however that State of Fear is not a manifesto on the state of the media.
The book's title, State of Fear, is that sense we all live with now, that terrorism is just part of our daily lives, everyone is trying to get on with life, but every time you pick up the paper there's something happening.Tim Ayliffe
"I hope what I've written is another page turner, that it's like a ball rolling in a bowling alley and it's getting faster and faster, it hits the pins at the end and you wonder who gets left standing, that's the kind of book I tried to write.
"But readers are smart, if I'm going to write about a journalist on the trail of a story and working with authorities and what not then I do need to give it a real world glimpse not only into journalism but policing and into politics and the media."
Perhaps just a little too real world. In the weeks before the book's release two Sydney-based Islamic State members were arrested in Sydney over a foiled terrorist plot, a radicalised prisoner carved IS slogans into a cellmates forehead after abandoning plans for an attack on Bankstown Police Station and, at June's G20 Summit, Prime Minister Scott Morrison gained an agreement from world leaders to put new pressure on Facebook and other social media giants to halt the spread of violent terrorism online in the wake of the Christchurch attacks in March.
"There have been 16 major terrorism plots disruppted in Australia in the past five years," Ayliffe says.
"It's frightening what is going on ... while there's a lot of artistic license in my book the overarching basis of it is looking at what's happening with IS and with the disintegration of the caliphate, now you've got a guy like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, [the leader of IS], who is now becoming basically a terrorist and a gangster, directing and coordinating, or inspiring at least, terrorist attacks around the world.
"The book's title, State of Fear, is that sense we all live with now, that terrorism is just part of our daily lives, everyone is trying to get on with life, but every time you pick up the paper there's something happening."
Ayliffe, 40, grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and lives there now with his wife and young family. He enjoys cycling and surfing and laments the state of Australian rugby union. Rugby fans will enjoy the references throughout the book.
He's taken long service leave from the ABC to work on a third John Bailey book, this one will look at the growth of far right nationalism "with some people trafficking thrown in".
"I love the way authors such as John le Carre would give you a real sense of the tension around the real world stuff going on, say the Cold War, or the way Philip Roth wrote about America and the big social issues going on there, others like Tom Wolfe ...
"I know I'm nowhere in that league but I do like the way they gave you not only a sense of place but a sense of time as well. I hope I've done that as well."