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Ted Kissel Author Interview

Betrayal in the Casbah follows a military attaché as he sets out on a rescue mission to save a downed pilot being held by terrorists. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Most of my inspiration in writing the book came from my military background and experiences while serving for almost three decades. Being a fighter pilot experiencing combat, a base commander in NATO, leadership roles at the highest levels at the Pentagon, and the intrigue of being a military attaché in an extremely unstable country in North Africa. But actually, I combined events of my last two years as a military attaché in Algeria in writing the book. The attempt to rescue a downed American pilot was an actual mission and I used much of what happened while attempting to accomplish that mission in the fictionalized story.

What is your background and experience in writing and how did it help you write Betrayal in the Casbah?

I have always loved the written word and periodically would write little stories of experiences in my life, but nothing serious. Most of my previous writing was of a military nature. Briefings, reports, after action documents, evaluations, etc….. The only formal background would be my bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science.

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

Terrorism in North Africa, Al-Qaeda, the Barbary Coast pirates, and ancient Roman cities in Algeria.

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

Escape from Algiers, which is the sequel to Betrayal in the Casbah. Hopefully it will answer many questions that persist after reading my first book. I anticipate the sequel being available at the end of this year or early 2023.

Author Links: Website | Instagram

It’s the early 2000’s in the US embassy, Algiers. US military attaché and decorated fighter pilot Colonel Mitch Ross needs a dose of reality and relief from the constraints of the diplomatic life. He catches a break of sorts when he survives a brutal knife attack one evening after attending a diplomatic reception.

Nursed to health by the beautiful and mysterious Abella, Mitch returns to duty and is approached by the CIA with a covert mission: to rescue and bring home a downed American pilot being held by terrorists in Algiers. As he plans and prepares for the mission, Mitch and Abella become confidants and lovers, and Mitch discovers she is more than just a nurse working in a military hospital. Together with longtime friend and French colonel Yves Dureau and Mitch’s assistant, Army Warrant Officer Dave McQueen, Mitch and Abella will risk their lives to bring the American POW to safety.

Slay the Dragon

Slay The Dragon by William McGinnis is a compelling thriller novel with complex storylines with action and adventure. Readers will be invested in the story from the opening pages. This action-filled novel portrays the pure brutality and intensity of life in the espionage world. With political agendas, civil turmoil, and an all-knowing agency watching everyone all the time, the future of the U.S. as we know it is at risk. Adam Weldon and his friend BC attempt to unravel what is happening and stumble upon more than they bargained for. While searching for a murderer, they risk becoming the next victims.

McGinnis’s writing is well-paced and has a nice rhythm to it. The story is quick but consistently keeps the reader engaged with a steady buildup of intrigue and action that all comes to a head in the riveting climax of the story. The characters really come alive due to detailed characterization and well defined personalities that make them interesting if not authentic. For readers that get confused by all the characters, the book includes a contents section for all of the characters and who they are. This makes it easier for readers to keep track of all the characters in this page-turning novel.

The author is able to create unique characters using free-flowing dialogue in a story that is constantly moving. Because this story has a quick pace it is important that we always know who is speaking and the author is able to keep readers fully aware of who is saying what in conversations that are both believable and succinct.

Slay The Dragon is a riveting thriller novel that will appeal to readers looking for a suspenseful spy story. This unpredictable mystery novel will engulf the reader in its complex exploration of geopolitical predicaments while providing them with a unique storyline that will keep them engaged from the first to the last page.

Pages: 268 | ASIN : B09PMPH7FN

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It Was Going To Get Away From Me

GJ Scherzinger
GJ Scherzinger Author Interview

The House on Chambers Court follows a corporate spy who’s forced to steal a special book in a magical but dangerous land. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

I challenge myself with each book. In the case of “The House on Chambers Court” I wanted to write a ‘caper’ novel, but within a Fantasy setting. That was the core of the book and the story evolved from there. More than any other book I’ve written, it evolved with the writing, a lot of the characters and circumstances appearing rather than planned. The secret is to write what one knows, and I’ve years of experience in martial arts, and include rock climbing as part of my past endeavors. I was living in Mexico during the writing. As I was a 6’4″ red-headed Gringo, there was no way I was ever going to blend in, and I thought it made for an odd counterpoint for a ‘spy’. I also love the intelligence inherent in the animal kingdom and all of my books give them some kind of inclusion.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What scene did you have the most fun writing?

It was fun throughout, as I really felt like I was trying to keep up with the characters rather than leading them on. The whole instance of them stealing all of the horses instead of just the one was a prime example. I live on a farm now, and horses have their own heads. It was obvious when I started writing the scene that, like the horses, it was going to get away from me and yet it provided the opportunity for the packet to fall in their hands. The interactions between Xavier and Kendra were fun to write as well. Their conversations really fell out of me easily, two people who genuinely liked each other.

What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this novel?

The idea of writing of shapeshifting really started listening to a recent album by Santana called ‘Shapeshifter’. I was blissfully unaware of the glut of ‘shapeshifter’ urban fantasy novels on the market, or I’d never have used the device. The album, and cover, really got me thinking more in terms of the shamanistic legends as the basis for my character. In researching the worlds related to spirit or guide animals, it’s really a mechanism by which we try to understand at our own natures. We have elements of the animal kingdom that influence us, we are animals after all. We also have our culture and the genetic memories of our ancestors. There are also the male and female qualities inherent in each of us. Thinking of ‘shapeshifting’ allowed for all of these things to come into play for me, so in the process of writing the story, a lot of those ‘conclusions’ came out. It’s impossible to put ourselves into the minds of the various beasts. We’re so involved in verbal communications and the electronics of life. I wanted to explore the animal sense where so much of the communication is non-verbal, then relate that as a writer. I dedicated the book to the ‘animals in our lives’. Anyone who loves their pets will understand.

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

I presented myself with another goal, to write a murder mystery. Agatha Christie did it. Why not me? And of course toss in layers of magic, for what would Fantasy be without it? Those sorts of whodunits have all kinds of suspects and motives and so it presented a new challenge for me as a writer. I hadn’t gone too far along in the plotting before I included the characters of Xavier and Kendra which were introduced in ‘The House on Chambers Court’. They were still fresh in my mind and fun to write, so I kept going with them central to the plot. The story has become “The Masque of Count Milado”. It’s a spoonerism on a Poe title and I’m not changing it. Bibliophiles will laugh. ‘The Masque …’ isn’t a sequel, rather a whole new tale. I’ve just had the second draft returned by my editor, so the final draft is being polished. I hope for its release in Spring 2022.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Amazon

Xavier Gaines, a corporate spy on the run, stumbles upon a strange house in a neighborhood he thought he knew. When the door shuts behind him, he finds himself shanghaied by the mysterious Tamarina Voxana to a land of magic and shapeshifters, charged with stealing the Book of Undone Deeds as his only hope of reprieve.
Xavier becomes a stranger in a strange land and must stay beyond the notice of the ruthless Guardsmen as well as a powerful Oracle, all who have reason to want him dead. To succeed, Gaines must discover the location of the Book and in the process, the truth of his own inner nature.

Everything Is One Great Butterfly Effect

Lorraine Evanoff
Lorraine Evanoff Author Interview

Devil’s Ledger follows a fierce and confident spy set on a mission to expose the corruption behind the world’s oldest bank in Italy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The prologue of Devil’s Ledger gives a quick background of the real-life tragic death of the Russian attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, who fought to defend Russian-based American investment fund manager, Bill Browder. Magnitsky subsequently died in a Russian prison, leading to the U.S. passing the anti-corruption Magnitsky Act, named after him.

The opening chapters of Devil’s Ledger pick up where the lives of Louise Moscow and other recurring series characters left off in the 2nd book of the series, PINOT NOIR. Every fascinating and powerful character in the Louise Moscow novels are inspired by actual situations and people I have met.

Louise Moscow is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

This is a very pointed question. Louise Moscow embodies ethical integrity and honesty, in the face of venality, greed, and corruption. She’s not judgmental. Rather, unethical character flaws fascinate her. She tries desperately to understand what drives others to lie, cheat and steal for something as meaningless as money. The other major motivation behind Louise’s actions is her fascination with making connections. She sees everything in life as a clue, something tied to something else and worth a closer look. Everything is one great butterfly effect.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Did you plan it or did it develop organically while writing?

Another great question! Before sitting down to write Devil’s Ledger, I had already decided to base it on the major Banker’s Grave story, the events surrounding the Magnitsky Act. However, my research soon led me to the world’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and I knew I had found my yellow brick road for the story!

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

I have decided to write an offshoot of Louise Moscow, in retirement, solving a murder for a friend, kind of a J.B. Fletcher / Murder She Wrote, or Agatha Christie novel. Fingers crossed it will be available for purchase October 2022!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

2021 PARIS BOOK FESTIVAL – HONORABLE MENTION, GENERAL FICTION

Evil is brewing in the heart of Italy…and the Devil is in the details.Ten years after cracking her last banker’s grave murder case, the CIA has recruited Louise Moscow into their financial crimes division.
Louise is ready to shed her cover as a Burgundy lavender farmer…and return to the spy game. All roads lead to Siena on her top-secret mission: to expose the devastating corruption behind the collapse of the world’s oldest bank.
Her investigation becomes a race to discover an ancient and mysterious treasure, while fighting a new enemy…The Master of the Russian Dark Arts.
It’s not long before Louise finds herself in the cross hairs of powerful enemies. Risking her life to shine a light on financial and political wrongdoing, can Louise expose the rot that has taken hold of Siena?
Or has she finally met her match?
Filled with suspense and international espionage, spirited female sleuth, Louise Moscow’s next adventure is where James Bond meets Temperance Brennan.

Devil’s Ledger

Devil's Ledger: A Female Sleuth Financial Thriller with International Espionage (A Louise Moscow Novel Book 3) by [Lorraine Evanoff]

Devil’s Ledger by Lorraine Evanoff is a suspenseful political thriller that will have your mind racing and heart pounding. We follow Louise Moscow who is a fierce and confident spy set on a mission to expose the corruption behind the world’s oldest bank in Siena, Italy. She soon becomes the target of powerful enemies, the Master of the Russian Dark Arts. She will do whatever it takes to bring forth the truth of the political and financial corruption in Siena.  

Evanoff has done it again! This book has it all, corruption, action, history, and a dash of romance. The author’s writing is captivating and transports the reader onto the streets of Italy alongside Louise. I really enjoyed the vivid descriptions as it really brought the scenery to life and gave this story more of an exotic feel, well for me anyway as I’ve never been to Italy.

The character development in the story is one to be admired as Louise is such a strong and compelling female character that anyone can admire. Similar to the character in the movie Salt with Angelina Jolie, Louise is strong, sexy and intelligent; who wouldn’t want to be her? Evanoff keeps the reader on their toes with unexpected plot twists that are wild but cinematic. But even with these sharp turns in the story the excellent writing ensured the plot was easy to follow. On par with Dan Brown novels, the historical aspects of the novel are intriguing and thoughtfully included in a way that intelligently elevates the novel.

The action scenes made this suspenseful action story hard to put down and I found myself finishing the book fairly quick. Devil’s Ledger is intoxicating, action packed, and will leave the reader wanting more. I highly recommend this political thriller to readers who are looking for an intelligent and sophisticated international espionage story.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B09JXPWPYW

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Accountability, Honor and Loyalty

Peter Zaccagnino
Peter Zaccagnino Author Interview

The New Cold War finds Russia on the brink of a technological innovation that can bring about a new cold war and one agent is tasked with stopping them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Any time we stand on the shoulders of our predecessors without the correct philosophical understanding of how we got there, we go down a road that inevitably leads to problems. Quantum computers may offer some incredible breakthroughs, but we need to stop and consider the possible ramifications of the technology or the wrong intentions could create a world-wide disaster.

Chris Hodge is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Chris Hodge is guided by asking metaphysical questions in the truest fashion to learn what is really going on in this world. He holds the belief that we are all world citizens and as such have a civil duty to ask these questions. The abbreviated answer is accountability, honor and loyalty.

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

One of my personal tenets is always asking the question “why” and not simply following what is told to you. Right now we live in a world where a leading news outlook starts the conversation with “This is what you NEED to know”. How could they possibly discuss the issues for the average world citizen in 1 paragraph? I hope that this book encourages readers to ask questions and think more deeply about a variety of topics.

What can readers expect in book three of the The Relevant Series?

Readers can expect a continuation of Hodges development as he pursues his ideologies across the world in a stand-alone story with ties to the first 2 books in the series. Perhaps some old characters will make an appearance under new circumstances. The story will confront key developments in espionage related to cyber topics and the misguided understanding that the world has on the topic as a whole. Why is Russia attacking worldwide interests with hackers, and to what end? What are China’s real goals 20, 30 and 50 years from now?

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

The New Cold War: Defending Democracy From Russia’s Secret Tech Weapon, is the second entry into the Relevant spy novel series featuring elite CIA agent Chris Hodge.

“Those who are looking for chinks in America’s armor think they have found it: our rapidly growing reliance on quantum computing. And now it is going to take some of our nation’s smartest geeks to keep us all safe and free. Peter Zaccagnino has penned a compelling thriller here. Read it now. Or wait and read the real-life version of the story in the newspapers in a few years.” – Don Keith, author of more than 35 books, including WARSHOT and ONLY THE BRAVE

“You’re asking me to solve a problem before it’s a problem. What’s our plan?”

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, it appeared that a new world order had emerged, one where democracy prevailed and autocratic communism was rendered obsolete. Some claimed it was the end of history. Except the Russians had other plans. They weren’t ready to abandon their power on the world stage without a fight.

After over a decade of development, Russia is only months away from finalizing an advanced quantum computer that can break all known encryption in less than a microsecond. When the CIA unearths intel on Russia’s progress, they turn to agent Chris Hodge, the man judged by the Agency as best equipped to lead the team tasked with sabotaging Moscow’s advanced quantum computer.

If Chris Hodge and his team succeed, democracy will continue to prevail.

If Chris Hodge and his team fail, Russia’s victory on the technological front will lead to Moscow’s unbridled power.

Will Chris Hodge remain relevant after the most difficult mission of his career?

24 HOURS TO DOOMSDAY

24 HOURS TO DOOMSDAY: Terrorist thriller that’s filled with twists, turns and military action by [Colin M Barron]

Sergeant Rick Fernscale of D Squadron, 22 Special Air Service’s life fell apart when his first wife, Helen died. He never imagined he’d find love again until he met Laura. As he and Laura embark on a pleasure cruise to celebrate their honeymoon, an object is spotted in the sky above. The object, a drone, is shot down and debris kills Laura. Angry and mourning, Rick sets out to solve the mystery of the drone. It is a mission that will change his life forever.

Author Colin M. Barron has created a compelling political thriller that is told with a command of military strategy and jargon that imbues the novel with an air of authority that few action adventure novels possess. The action feels organic and hard hitting but always grounded. Readers comfortable with military fiction will be able to follow this suspenseful narrative easily, but I felt overwhelmed occasionally by the amount of information given.

The dialogue throughout the book is sharp and fits the relentless pace of the novel. Rick is an intriguing character that shows more dimensions and depth as the story progresses and is someone who was fun to follow.

24 Hours to Doomsday is a riveting action adventure novel that takes the kinetic action of Tom Clancy novels and adds the depth of character of Robert Ludlum books. As an American, I enjoyed seeing British Armed Forces in combat operations as it gave me the thrill of military action with the exotic feel of a foreign power. 

Author Colin Barron ends this novel with a nail biting twist that any action fan will surely appreciate. I don’t want to give away too much, but Kokorov attempts to kill Rick, and Andy Harrington steps in with stunning results. 

24 Hours to Doomsday provides readers with a thrilling novel that parallels real life in the potential release of a deadly virus. This is a high octane terrorist thriller that is hard to put down.

Pages: 287 | ASIN: B096CNYYHV

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To Be A Spec Ops Warrior

D. C. Gilbert
D.C. Gilbert Author Interview

Serpents Underfoot finds JD Cordell facing a terrorist group that plans to detonate nukes on US soil. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

This story grew out of thoughts I have had about what it would be like to be a Spec Ops warrior. I served in the military and spent most of my time overseas. I served in the Army infantry, and when I enlisted, I scored high enough on the ASVAB test to get Ranger School in my contract. Unfortunately, when they discovered I had a slight speech impediment, they would not send me to Ranger School. There were going to let me out because they couldn’t honor their end of the deal, but I asked to stay. Hell, I could still shoot pretty darn well. So, I guess it is, at least in part, a fantasy about what might have been.

Combine that with a lifetime study of martial arts, the political climate at the time, my interest in Asian culture, and you have the birth of this story.

The rest is simply a bunch of “what if” questions. For instance, what if a soldier in Vietnam married a Vietnamese girl who saved his life? What if their son became a Navy SEAL, and what if his team uncovered a major terrorist plot? What if it involved high-ranking US government officials? You get the idea …

JD Cordell is essentially a composite of several people I have known and respected. While I was a bit too young to serve in Vietnam, I was old enough to have several good friends who did. One friend, in particular, served as a medic on long-range reconnaissance patrols in the region the first few chapters of Serpents Underfoot is set in. I also know a couple of former Navy SEALS, one of which recently passed away. He was actually an Underwater Demolition Team member and served in the Mekong Delta region during the Vietnam War. The UDT teams were essentially forerunners of the Navy SEALs.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I guess you could say the writing challenges were pretty extensive, and they essentially set themselves. Serpents Underfoot was my first serious attempt at a book. I am still amazed that I finished it, published it, and have gotten some pretty rave reviews, including Literary Titan’s excellent review and many great reader reviews. It even got a good review from Kirkus.

And I did make a lot of newbie mistakes. It was self-edited, which I learned right away is not a good idea. I used an editor, Beth Kallman Werner, for my second book, Montagnard. She was a great help and worth the investment. But for Serpents Underfoot, there were several frantic re-edits and uploads of the book’s interior as readers pointed out problems or typos to me. I knew nothing about launching a book release or marketing. I mean, in reality, writing it was probably the easy part. It has even gone through four different cover revisions.

All that being said, I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience. I grew so much as an author during that process. We learn so much more from our mistakes than our successes.

What draws you to the military action-thriller genre?

It is a genre I have always enjoyed reading. I like action thrillers of all kinds and have read a great deal by authors like Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, W.E.B. Griffin, Ken Follett, Greg Iles, Vince Flynn, and Ian Fleming, to name just a few.

I was also a huge Louis L’Amour western fan, so I guess this kind of thing comes naturally. I like stories where despite terrible odds, the good guys win. Louis L’Amour had a great quote I’ve always loved, “There’s no stopping a man who knows he’s in the right and keeps a-coming.” I think JD Cordell personifies that quote.

And I also love reading military history, especially World War II and the Vietnam War. As I mentioned, I have had several friends over the years who were Vietnam Veterans, and I was appalled by how this country treated them on their return to the US. So, I like to write stories that cast American military members in a positive light; who stand on principle and won’t back down.

Serpents Underfoot is the first book in The JD Cordell Action Series. What can readers expect in book two?

Book two, titled Montagnard, is already out. I sort of did this “review thing” out of order. Montagnard also received a 5-Star review from Literary Titan and even won your Literary Titan Gold Book Award for August 2020. I was shocked but very thrilled. I have to give a lot of credit for that to my editor. Beth told me it was good and that I should submit it for review. It was that success that prompted me to submit Serpents Underfoot as well.

In Montagnard, JD Cordell and a few buddies try to rescue his mother, who disappears into Vietnam after traveling there to find her adopted brother. Dish, of course, played a significant role in Serpents Underfoot. JD’s mother, Mai, inadvertently falls victim to an old feud between her adopted brother and a former Viet Cong colonel. During the rescue mission, JD also receives assistance from a half-Thai, half-American nightclub owner, a great character full of surprises.

I am currently working on book three, titled Reciprocity. This tale picks up where Montagnard leaves off. In Reciprocity, JD finds himself drawn into a deadly conflict with a criminal gang trafficking young women forced into lives of prostitution. In this case, two young women you meet in Montagnard. It is a dark topic but, sadly, all too relevant in today’s world. I hope this book, while fiction, will help bring this topic to more people’s attention.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Conspiracy. Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation.
JD Cordell believes in freedom, honor, and hard work. The son of a Vietnam veteran and his Vietnamese wife, the Navy SEAL is proud to serve as SEAL Team 5’s K9 handler with his dog Ajax. But when his team uncovers a deadly terrorist plot in Afghanistan, he never expected a cover-up that could reach as high as the White House itself.
As JD gets drawn in deeper, he unmasks a mastermind hell bent on detonating nukes on U.S. soil. When an assassin working for the terrorist strikes close to home, JD’s fight to save America gets personal.
Can JD protect the American way of life, or will sadistic terrorists turn America into a nuclear wasteland?
Serpents Underfoot is the first novel in a nail-biting military thriller series. If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies, and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action and suspense.
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