A. Sure. Click HERE.
A. I draw inspiration from current events, history, and what my research leads me to believe falls within the realm of the plausible. For example, in The Colonel’s Mistake, some elements of the story parallel the Iran-Contra affair. (Both the Iran-Contra operation, and the Iranian operation revealed in The Colonel’s Mistake, were authorized by the US national security advisor and involved a colonel who helped with logistics.) Also inThe Colonel’s Mistake, CIA operations in Azerbaijan are depicted as being run out of both the US embassy in Baku and a nearby CIA outpost. I did this because my research suggested this was plausible. Fast-forward to what happened in Benghazi, Libya not long after The Colonel’s Mistake was published—CIA contract workers were present at the US consulate (essentially a smaller version of an embassy) when it was attacked. A CIA outpost was revealed to be nearby. One final example—in 2009, a disputed election in Iran, and the protests that followed, exposed internal divisions within the Iranian government; I looked carefully at those divisions when shaping the plot of The Colonel’s Mistake.
A. I don’t see spy thrillers as just stories about a spies (or operations officers, in CIA parlance), I see them as a stories that focus on elemental issues all people deal with—when do you tell the truth, when do you lie, when do you decide the ends justify the means, when do you decide they don't, how much of your true self do you show to the people around you, how much do you hide... Spies grapple with these same issues, only they take it to an extreme. So I suppose that’s why I was drawn to the genre. That and the fact that I’m both a news junkie and a history buff, and it’s easy to explore those interests in a spy thriller.
A. I love to travel and, although my track record isn’t perfect, I have explored most of the places I've written about. Before writing The Colonel’s Mistake and The Leveling, I visited Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan. I’d also spent quite a bit of time in France, where portions of the latter half of The Colonel’s Mistake is set. Book three in the series will be set primarily in Kyrgyzstan and Bahrain; both are countries I’ve been to. Click HERE to view photos from some of these trips.
A. Click HERE for a list of 10 reasons to set a spy thriller in Azerbaijan.
A. Read, tell bad jokes to my wife and kids, build stuff, and climb mountains.
A. Lately, most of what I read is non-fiction—research that informs my own novels. Click HERE or on the Bibliography link above if you’re interested. I also read a lot of newspapers and periodicals. As for fiction, as an adolescent/young teen I remember reading Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming and James Michener and JRR Tolkien way past my bedtime, hiding under the covers with a flashlight. In college I’d often bring authors like Douglas Adams and Anne Rice to class. (I recall reading most of Rice’s vampire books during this one Anthropology course.) Post-college I fell in love with the work of Faulkner, Wallace Stevens, and a lot of other authors I was supposed to have read in college. V.S. Naipaul, James Cain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Isabelle Allende, John Updike, and Graham Greene have all written books that have influenced me. A few years ago I spent way too much time reading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books twice, along with George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series. I also read and enjoy a lot of contemporary thriller authors whose names you’d recognize—enough that I’m not going to try to point out just a few.
A. A lot, I’m sure, but it’s not a direct reflection—I don’t just transfer my thoughts straight from my head to Mark Sava’s, or to any of the other characters'. Of course, they’re all restricted by the boundaries of my imagination, but within those boundaries I try to give them free reign to think and do whatever they want.
A. Took me twenty years, with some detours along the way, before it finally worked out. I love to write, though, so that was OK.
A. Certainly I’d make an effort to do so if it’s close to where I live in eastern Pennsylvania. If you’re farther away, it would depend on how far away, and what my travel schedule is. Can’t hurt to ask: CONTACT
A. Let me know what you like, or don’t like about the books in the Sava series. I’m still learning; your comments will help me as I write more books in the series. Leaving an honest rating of the books on Amazon or Goodreads is also always appreciated. Click around this website—is there anything else you’d like to see that isn’t here? Anything that you feel might add to your appreciation of the books? If so, I want to hear about it. And finally, if you see a technical mistake or typo in any of the books, please don’t hesitate to tell me. I'll make sure the mistake is corrected in future editions: CONTACT
A. Probably: CONTACT