Friday, December 21, 2012

Alex Markman, Contra ODESSA

AUTHOR: Alex Markman
PUBLISHER: Asteroid Publishing

Please tell us about yourself?

I was born in the Soviet Union, and grew up there during the Cold War era. Being published there was mission impossible for me: I couldn’t follow communists guidelines for literature. I was active in the dissident movement, and paid the price for it: 3 years in prison camp in Siberia, where temperature sometimes dropped to -56 Celsius.  Luckily, after getting out of it, I got permission to emigrate. I lived 5 years in Israel, and later immigrated to Canada, where I live now. My first book, written in Russian, was about my time in Siberia. It is much different from most works of this genre. It is not about me; it is rather about people and environment I lived in. The book title is At the Edge of Geography (translation from Russian). It was published by Moscow-Jerusalem publishers. This is my only non-fiction book. Since then I have published four books in Russian, the latest being A Plot against Terror (translation), published by AST, the second largest publisher in Russia, and four books and a few short stories in English. The latest novel is Contra-ODESSA, published by Asteroid Publishing.

When and why did you begin writing?

As far as I remember, I was writing in my mind. My fantasy often brought me away from the reality, but it was not a daydreaming, but rather story telling and imagining scenes as vivid as reality.  My first book was published in 1979, and the last one in 2012.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

From the age 18.

What inspired you to write your first book?

You mean, first published book. The life in the prison camp. It was a camp for hardened criminals-recidivists (unfortunate for political prisoners); it gave me abundant material for writing a unique book. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Life is controversial. There are circumstances when good people do horrible things, and evils become victims. ‘Judge not…’, or at least think a moment before you do.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)

Some of my fiction books were inspired by actual events in my life. There are heroes, or at least remarkable characters, around anyone of us. We often do not see anything interesting in them, because they are too close to us.  Only in fiction, where you can put them in unusual circumstances, you can reveal the beauty and ugliness of their souls and minds.

What books have most influenced your life?

I’d rather mention writers. They are: Somerset Maugham, Eric Maria Remarque, Leo Tolstoy, O. Henry, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Somerset Maugham

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

John Grisham, Nelson DeMille, Frederick Forsyth

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Frankly not. I just began writing. Luckily for me and my readers I had destroyed everything which I wrote in my younger years. 

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?

I have never had a writer’s block. You see, I actually did not dream to be a writer. I just wanted to write.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

Alpine skiing, hiking in wilderness, reading, socializing and drinking coffee. 

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Somerset Maugham. Most of his works are a blend of fine literature, romance, adventure, and drama and tragedy of human soul. His humour is as amusing and refined as Oscar Wilde`s. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t. I believe that true writers do not need any advice.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

I have a few different publishers for my books. Contra-ODESSA was published by Asteroid Publishing. I did some work for it, particularly working with writers whose manuscripts were selected for publication.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Contra-ODESSA by Alex Markman: Brief Synopsis

  Inspired by a true story, Contra-ODESSA is about the workings of superpowers’ secret services in Latin America in the 1960s. A team of KGB agents in Argentina were hunting former Nazis who kept their money in Swiss banks. Under torture, the agents extorted from them their secret accounts numbers, money from which went to support the Communist movements in Latin America. The American spy network, eager to find the source of Communists funding, eventually traced the Soviets.
     Dealing primarily with the dichotomy of left and right in politically-unstable Argentina, the novel shifts back and forth between the lives of two young men: the Russian KGB officer, Robert, and the American CIA commander, Glenn.
     Both Robert and Glenn are posing as carefree residents of Buenos Aires while they work towards accomplishing their diametrically-opposing political agendas. As Robert and his team of undercover KGB agents hunt down wealthy German holders of Swiss bank accounts, Glenn and his American spy network infiltrate Argentinean Communist rebel groups in order to discover the source of their funding.  
     The pattern of mysterious disappearances of high-profile Germans in Buenos Aires attracts Glenn’s attention, and when he traces the work to Robert’s Soviet team, a harrowing and deeply consequential clash between the two spy networks, and former members of the SS organization, ODESSA, ensues.
    As the two separate narratives of Robert and Glenn converge together, their black and white politics simultaneously become muddled as their respective love affairs ripen under the hot Argentinean sun.  Robert’s infatuation with the older but nevertheless tremendously sexy wife of a former SS officer, Bertha, and Glenn’s fling with the young and flirtatious local communist activist, Lolita, takes on a deeper meaning for them, far beyond being useful for their respective missions. The validity and morality of their activity and political causes come into question.
     An exhilarating, fast-paced read, Contra-ODESSA conveys the dramatic and inevitably tragic lives of people drawn into the superpowers’ geopolitical struggle for global dominance. The novel’s plot is intense, but also aptly descriptive and thought-provoking as it invites you to examine the complexities of right and left political thought, the inner workings of the criminal mind, and the mysterious ways of love.

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