Friday, December 28, 2012

R. J. McDonnell, The Classic Rockers Reunion with Death, #giveaway

AUTHOR:  RJ McDonnell
BOOK TITLE: The Classic Rockers Reunion with Death
PUBLISHER: Killeena Publishing
A free download of each of the four novels in the series (one per entrant)

Please tell us about yourself.

I am the son of a Pennsylvania State Police Detective, who received several decorations for solving complex and high-profile crimes. In addition to a traditional education, I also had the benefit of seeing every police detective drama on television and in the movies. My father would frequently critique these stories for believability of characters and police procedures.

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree at Penn State University and a Masters at Marywood University. During his college years I was a rhythm guitarist and vocalist in two bands. Shortly thereafter, I moved to San Diego where I went to work for a professional writing service. In addition, I wrote a monthly column for the Military Press, and another for a San Diego publication, providing advice to job seekers.

In the 90s, I got into comedy writing. I wrote for a local San Diego cable television show that had a Saturday Night Live-type format. Over its two seasons on the air, 34 of my skits were produced. Rock & Roll Homicide was the first novel in my Rock & Roll Mystery Series. The second novel, Rock & Roll Rip-Off, was selected 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year by Premier Book Awards. Third novel, The Concert Killer, features an original book trailer song that serves as a prequel to this serial killer novel. I did my first network television interview the week my 4th novel, The Classic Rockers Reunion with Death, was launched.

Tell us your latest news.

I recently completed  2nd editions of Rock & Roll Homicide  and  Rock & Roll Rip-Off, making them available in paperback for the first time. This cuts the cost in half for non-ebook readers.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I got a taste for writing fiction after six years as a full time non-fiction writer. A coworker went to work on a new cable comedy television show with a Saturday Night Live format. He asked if I’d like to submit a script on spec and the job snowballed.  A total of 34 of my scripts were produced and aired over the show’s two seasons, and I was hooked on fiction. But I didn’t care for the way producers, associate producers, directors, and occasionally top actors all felt the need to put their own spin on scripts. I transitioned over to books to enable creative control and ensure writing about subjects that interest me.

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

I approach my first edit by identifying themes that will be memorable to my readers. I then try to pare them down to a central theme, and make cuts and additions based on their relevance to the theme.

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

I’m a big believer in “write what you know.” Most of my characters are composites of several people. A recurrent comment that I see in my reader reviews is that my characters act and talk like real people. I’m fine with making situations and obstacles in my stories larger than life, but I need my characters to be genuine and consistent. My protagonist is a PI who worked at an outpatient mental health center for two years before entering his PI apprenticeship. His full-time and part-time employees are all former patients. Having worked in a similar setting for the same length of time, I mix and match character traits and idiosyncrasies to develop a genuine feel.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?

I’m reading The Panther by Nelson DeMille. It’s the latest installment of one of the John Corey Series, one of my all-time favorites. It’s quite a bit slower than the other novels in the series. In chapter 2, John and his FRI agent wife are assigned a mission in Yemen. Their plane doesn’t actually land in that country until Chapter 16, and not much takes place in the interim to justify the slow pacing. On the other hand, I find John Corey to be one of the wittiest characters in the mystery/thriller genre, and he has some great lines in this book. If it could have been edited down from 640 pages to 400 pages it would have been great.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I thoroughly enjoy indie novelist, Darcia Helle. Her Michael Sykora series is a must read for thriller fans. Her stand-alones consistently demonstrate wide ranging talent.

What are your current projects?

I just finished second editions of my first two novels and am releasing them for the first time ever as paperbacks. The hardbound 1st editions were well received and still available (signed and inscribed) for collectors. But with the economy continuing to slog along, it was time for a lower price alternative for those who don’t use an eReader.  I just released a package of the four novels in the series at a special price through the holidays.

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

First and foremost, I love to read. I try to achieve an even mix of indie novels and best sellers/old favorites. I meet many interesting indie authors in the course of my everyday life, and try to sample their work whenever possible. But I also try to learn from the best. This frequently means reading with a notebook at my side. I like to track techniques that favorite authors use to pique my interest, build tension, and endear me to their characters.

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

My favorite author is Lawrence Sanders. His early work is riveting. The protagonist in his Deadly Sins series reminds me of my police detective father in many ways. When Sanders reached retirement age, he moved from NY to FL and initiated his McNally series, which replaced frequent tension with light humor while preserving Sanders unique voice and interesting plots. The McNally series was so popular that another author (Vincent Lardo) picked up where Sanders left off, after his death, and wrote six more McNally novels. It reminded me of seeing skillful tribute bands imitate favorite musicians.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always the amount of marketing time it takes after the book is published to get it in the hands of the many. I believe there would be far fewer authors if they had a realistic understanding of the amount of marketing time necessary to successfully launch a novel.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
After owning a non-fiction writing service for ten years prior to becoming a novelist, I founded Killeena Publishing to publish my fiction.

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


Rock & Roll Homicide (#1)
Just as the rock band, Doberman's Stub, was about to reach stadium tour status, its leader was brutally murdered when his headphones exploded during a recording session. The widow, who inherits $5 million, is the San Diego Police Department's number one suspect. She hires Jason Duffy, a 27-year-old PI and former musician, in his first year of private practice. Jason learns that the victim was in the middle of an acrimonious renegotiation with the record company at the time of his death. He also finds that the record company has a very unhealthy tie to the Russian Mafia. As an inexperienced detective, Jason does not yet have the contacts within the police department to gather vital information. He is forced to mend fences with his estranged father, an opinionated ex-SDPD detective. While Jason investigates the record company, he also takes a close look at the three surviving members of the victim's band. One is an alcoholic/drug addict drummer, on the verge of being kicked out of the group. The second is a bass player who camouflages his rock star status by living in an ordinary house in a lower middle-class neighborhood. Third is a lead guitarist and writer of half of the band's songs, who lives well beyond his means. Jason has not yet become hardened to the very real dangers of his new profession. We experience his inner conflict as his girlfriend, staff, and family are drawn into the danger zone. After Jason's part-time employee is severely beaten during a stakeout, he sells the story of the Russian Mafia's involvement in the record business to a tabloid journalism TV show in a misguided effort to protect his employer and coworker. This serves to drive the case to new heights of danger and suspense. Jason goes behind the industry veneer of sex & drugs & hedonistic lifestyles. He shows us how the 21st Century world of downloads, file sharing, and image demographics need to be considered in a case of Rock & Roll Homicide.

Rock & Roll Rip-Off (#2)
Jason Duffy thought he had accepted a routine burglary case when a career studio musician hired him to recover a memorabilia collection featuring unusual treasures from some of the top performers in the music industry. But Jason quickly finds himself at the top of a hit list that has nothing to do with The Top 40 and everything to do with a table for one at the San Diego Coroner's Office. While the facts of the case point to an emo band that the victim was helping at the time of the theft, the lethal force that Jason encounters in his investigation feels more like death metal. He finds himself imperiled by a hitman known as The Heartbreaker, due to his signature of shooting his victims through the heart at close range. With danger also threatening his staff and girlfriend, Jason must continue to mend fences with his retired police detective father, in spite of a recent riff that caused a setback to their relationship. Everyone thought The Tactile Tattoo was a "can't miss" band. The pre-release buzz for their first CD was tremendous. But a bad review from a key industry critic, who didn't care for their lyrics, left the album stillborn at record stores across the country. The group soon learned that second chances in the current state of the music business are practically nonexistent. One band member discovered that money talks in an industry strapped for cash, and a bribe was entirely possible. However, funding that bribe meant getting involved with all of the wrong people. The reader is treated to an insider's view of the music industry that captures the new obstacles that today's bands must overcome in order to succeed. Rock & Roll Rip-Off is the second novel in RJ McDonnell's Rock & Roll Mystery Series. Like the critically acclaimed Rock & Roll Homicide, McDonnell once again mixes humor, music, and a cast of unique characters to unfold a memorable mystery that shows Jason and a loved one "knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door."

The Concert Killer (#3)
A religious fanatic serial killer, who hates rock music, tries to shut down the concert industry. A group of independent concert promoters hire private investigator Jason Duffy and his staff of former outpatient mental health clients to catch him. The killer believes that God rewards His favorites with the most money, and keeps score of his victims on the back of a dollar bill. Jason uses his background as a counselor and club musician to battle his cleverest and most twisted adversary ever. The author of the 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year, Rock & Roll Rip-Off, once again adds LOL humor in between compelling action scenes. Besides offering readers a backstage pass to the music industry, The Concert Killer brings to light a potentially catastrophic danger that few have ever considered.

The Classic Rockers Reunion with Death (#4)
San Diego private investigator Jason Duffy is literally taken out of his comfort zone when he travels to Scranton, PA in January after his uncle’s best friend is murdered. Jason knows very little about Uncle Patrick because of a feud between his father and uncle that caused an estrangement over 40 years ago. He learns that his uncle and the victim were members of a rock band that nearly made it to the national scene in the late 60s, and were about to play a reunion concert in their hometown when the murder occurred. The investigation leads Jason back to an “almost anything goes” era that is exacting a huge price many years later. To mix & master this musical mystery, Jason fills in for the murdered guitarist and soon finds himself struggling to avoid filling in a cemetery plot. Someone doesn’t want that reunion concert to happen and is willing to do anything to cancel it forever. The case teaches Jason how easy it is for all of us to fall victim to our assumptions.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mike Lynch, After the Cross

AUTHOR:  Brandon Barr & Mike Lynch
BOOK TITLE: After the Cross
PUBLISHER:  Ellechor Publishing

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?

Happy to. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my wife and two children. She worked in restaurants for many years as a chef, but now teaches cooking in high school. My two children are also in high school. One aspires to be an English teacher, and the other, something in the computer field. I have written off and on for most of my life, but didn't start seriously writing until about 8 years ago. I actually don't stick to one genre of writing, which I know is a big no-no for writers, but I cannot help myself. I've written stories that are based in science fiction, fantasy, historical, adventure, and romance. I'm your proverbial Jack of all trades, but master of none.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.

I have a passion for history, and regularly watch the History Channel on cable. Several years ago there was a documentary about Helena, the mother of Constantine. He was the Roman emperor who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. When Helena converted to Christianity, she had a desire to visit those places she read about in the Bible, and decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 327 A.D. While she was there she allegedly found what she considered to be the cross of Jesus. It was kept in Jerusalem until it was captured in battle in 1187 A.D. by the Muslim general, Saladin. Nothing is said about the cross after that. Watching that documentary got me thinking about the cross, and how people might respond if they discovered it had survived to our time. And thus the story was born.

What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I think writers are born that way. I know that's true in my case since I had little interest in books or reading growing up. My interest was more in the area of movies and television. Since I'm a visual learner, that would make a lot of sense. As someone who enjoys stories, I found myself writing short stories for my own enjoyment. I never had any intention of getting them published, but I believe we are all born with God-given gifts, given to us for the benefit of others. Shortly after high school, I suddenly had the idea I could write a novel. That was truly a surprise for me, given my background, but thought I would give it a shot. It was a science fiction story based upon the premise 1000 alien ships were presently headed toward Earth for the sole purpose of destroying it, and we had little chance of stopping them. With that simple idea, I spent the next several months fleshing it out. As you can imagine, it was pretty bad, and worked on it off and on for the next 28 years, honing down the story until it was in publishable shape. My perseverance paid off, and I eventually found a publisher for When the Sky Fell in 2009.  
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I generally have a big idea for a story, and then figure out how to make it come to life by creating the proper characters and plot points. In the case of After the Cross, I asked myself the question, "What would happen if the Cross of Jesus were discovered today?" I would need archeologists, so that created a need for Colton Foster and Mallory Windom. Every story also needs villains that will work contrary to the heroes--enter Victor Petrichenko and Vladimir Zarco. I then developed their backgrounds, psychologies, along with the plot points, tone, and mood of the story. Once I've laid out all the parts, I then put them together into the form of a five or six page outline. It establishes the structure I want to create for the book, but it also gives me a lot of room to fill in the gaps as I go. For me, writing is an interactive process, and the way I have drawn up my characters and story elements often change as I get deeper into the story. Having a general outline gives me the freedom to do that.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
I would say the plot comes first, followed by the characters.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?

Since we are focused on After the Cross, I will scale my answer down to the characters in this book. For the one I like the most, I would say Mallory Windom. Of all the characters, her journey is the most comprehensive. She is a deeply wounded person who has had a tough life, and keeps everyone at arm’s length as a result. Mallory is in the hunt for the cross because of the opportunities it will afford her. She’s in it for the money and fame. As the story unfolds, she finds herself slowly discovering the true message of the cross, and recognizes many of the mistakes she has made in her life, and what they've cost her. At the end of the story, without giving away the big climax, she must decide between her past and her future, and whether or not she will open her heart to everything God has for her.
The character I pity the most is Victor Petrichenko. He would be the tragic character in this story. His wife is dying of cancer, and when he finds out the cross of Jesus may still exist, does everything within his power to retrieve it. He believes miraculous powers are attached to the cross, and it could heal his wife. Because he's an unscrupulous man, he will stop at nothing to get it. As is often the case for men of power who sacrifice everything to acquire what they want through any means necessary, the price he pays is a big one.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It is important to remember I co-authored After the Cross with Brandon. That means the two of us had to agree on everything contained in all 273 pages of the book, or we would have never finished it. As far as the most difficult part of the story itself to write, that came at the very end. This is when all four major characters are brought together for the first time. They have been involved in the hunt for the cross, but for very different reasons. One of the characters wants to destroy it (if the cross is found), the other wants it to heal his wife, while Colton, the main character, recognizes the cross for what it is, and is committed to seeing it handled with respect and reverence (again, if the cross is found), while Mallory, a treasure hunter that has no problem selling her archeological skills to the highest bidder, sees it as her ticket to fame and fortune. The problem for us was making sure the resolution for each character's search ended appropriately, but in a way that was satisfying for the reader. Since they all want different things for different reasons, that proved difficult. In the end, we believe we hit upon the right ending. Most of our readers seem to think so, anyway.   
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?

I was actually a history major in college, so I've studied a lot about the past over the years. I already had a general understanding about what linguists and archeologists do, but knew more was needed. I went to some websites that gave me some really good information that worked its way into the book. It's hard to say how much time this took me overall. As Brandon and I wrote the story, if we needed some historical information required for a particular scene, we usually checked out several historically-based websites, found the names and places we wanted, and inserted it into a piece of dialogue or described what a character saw. For example, at the beginning of the story there is a scene between Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas. As the two of them talk, Caiaphas looks about the room and sees some Roman swords. Rather than just say "sword," we used the word "gladius," which is what they were called 2,000 years ago. It's details like that which make the story that much more real for the reader. Though it varies from book to book, but it takes us about 6-9 months to write it, and then another 3 to edit it before it is sent to our agent.

If Jesus' cross were found today, what kind of impact do you think it would have on people?

That’s an interesting question. If the cross of Jesus somehow survived, and we could verify its authenticity, it would be a momentous discovery indeed, perhaps eclipsing the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The problem for us is what happens after that? Where would the cross go? Who would be the caretaker of it? The Catholic Church? The Orthodox Church? A Protestant church? A neutral entity? Would it go to Rome, Jerusalem, or some other place? It is an artifact so many people would claim as its own, I’m afraid it would divide us more than it would unite us.

On a personal level, I think it would drive many people closer to God. Can you imagine what it would be like to actually see, and perhaps touch, the actual cross Jesus sacrificed himself on so that man would be reconciled back to God? It would be a powerful moment indeed. Of course, I believe many others would contest the authenticity of the cross, or the purpose it served. And so in the end, it comes down to what each person believes the purpose the cross served, and its place in their lives.

What are some of the challenges in your writing process?

In my case, I would say it is different than for most writers. I enjoy the process of co-authoring, since I find it is extremely helpful collaborating with someone just as invested in the quality of the story as I am. But that also presents a whole other set of issues that need to be addressed. The creative process is very personal, and some writers have a hard time receiving negative feedback from another writer. But that is what has happened as we have collaborated on our stories. Then there are also the inevitable disagreements about structure or the way a sentence should be written, or the kinds of personality traits we want for a particular character.  In the end, the overall vision for the story is what matters, and to make it as engaging as possible.  That always trumps the other’s feelings about what to leave in or cut out, or the hundreds of other decisions that must be addressed along the way.  Usually, when one of us shares our reasons for why we wrote a scene a particular way for example, especially when he felt pretty strongly about it, the other would usually defer to him, and then we'd move on. In the end, the story always ends up being that much stronger because we both embrace the collaborative process.

Describe your writing space.
I like to write on my computer, never by long hand. My ideas come much easier for me that way. I also like to write with as few peripheral distractions as possible--no noise or anything else that takes me away from the story. That means I like my writing space clean and organized. When everything is in its place, I can then immerse myself in the story and let it unfold before my eyes.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I still enjoy watching movies and TV shows. I also spend most of my free time with my family.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?

I'm asked that question a lot. I guess it comes with the territory. Since I wasn't much of a reader growing up, I don't really have many writing heroes. I do, however, respect the stories told by Rod Serling, especially the ones he did for The Twilight Zone. I like how he took ordinary people and put them in extraordinary situations. A lot of what I write follows the same model.

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?

I believe there will always be books, the kind we have today, made of paper, glue and covers. There's something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages. I also recognize that we now live in the computer age, and that has had a profound effect on publishing. Nooks, Kindles and other such devices are here to stay, and have already become the dominate means by which books are purchased and read. I believe this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. Amazon and other online "bookstores" have also given hopeful authors the opportunity to publish their works without the need of going through an agent or publisher. While this has given voice to a lot of amazing writers who have had little luck getting their work published the traditional way, it has also unleashed the floodgates of books and novels that weren't published for a reason. There will always be a vast reserve of wonderful stories out there for people to read, but it may take a bit more work wading through the bad stuff to find it.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for

My first books, Dublin, came out in 2007, followed by When the Sky Fell, American Midnight, The Crystal Portal, and After the Cross. My next novel, Love's Second Chance, will come out in 2013. I also recently finished a sequel to my first novel, entitled, After the Sky Fell, which I sent to the publisher a few months back. He hasn't said yet when it will be released.

What is your marketing plan?

Like any hopeful author, I tell everyone who will listen to me about my books. That has meant attending conventions, book signings, sending e-mails to friends and family, not to mention getting to know people with similar interests on websites, and doing radio interviews. It takes a lot of work getting the word out about your books, much more than I expected, so I appreciate the opportunity you've given me to share my stories with your audience.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

You have to know your characters, who they are and where they've come from. If your reader can't connect with them, they almost always never enjoy the story. Characters are everything. When they go on their journey, your reader goes with them. They cry when the character cries, and cheer when the character succeeds. Making any character into a real person is no easy task, which is why I often draw upon people I know, myself included. I like to give them idiosyncrasies, such as ticks or manners of speech. It's those little things that make them unique. No one can relate to a perfect person, so they also need a flaw or two. Look at Superman. He can do everything, except when it came to Kryptonite. That was his weakness. Your characters need to have theirs, but in a way that is relevant to the story. In the end, if you as the author believe everything about your characters, your readers will as well.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

The best place to check out the books and short stories I've written and the places you can purchase them is my website:

Colton Foster was once hailed as a renowned expert in Latin, Hebrew and Greek, but when a shadowy antiquities dealer outwits him with master forgeries from Solomon’s Temple, his reputation is destroyed. Years later, his career and self respect still in pieces, his life takes a turn when an 800-year old letter is discovered in Istanbul, Turkey that claims the cross of Jesus still exists, and has been safely hidden away. The job of translating the letter is his for the taking, and with it a chance to redeem himself.

Mallory Windom is smart, beautiful, and skilled at getting what she wants. A linguistic prodigy with a dark history, she’s learned to trust no one, a skill that works to her advantage in the black market antiquities trade where she regularly sells her expert talents to the highest bidder. When she’s asked to join the same research team as Colton, she sees it as a ticket to the legitimacy she craves, and eagerly accepts.

As Colton and Mallory hunt for Christianity’s most prized relic, mysterious forces seem bent on stopping them at every turn. In a race against time and hired mercenaries, Colton and Mallory’s search leads them to an ancient town in Israel. But they soon discover the quest for the cross is not only from without, but from within, testing their beliefs, their ethics, and their growing love for one another.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Judy Cox, Snow Day for Mouse

AUTHOR: Judy Cox
BOOK TITLE: Snow Day for Mouse            
PUBLISHER: Holiday House

GIVEAWAY: Judy is offering a giveaway on Goodreads at
HOW DO YOU WANT THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN: The winner is chosen by a random drawing held by Goodreads
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER: Judy will mail the prize to the winner.

Tell me a little about your book.
This is the fourth title about Mouse (Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale; Cinco de Mouse-O!; Haunted House, Haunted Mouse).  This series of picture books is illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbler, with an amazing use of color and perspective . In this book, Mouse goes outside and has a fun snow day, escaping from Cat with the help of a trio of southbound birds. 

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I wanted to write a story about sharing, and Mouse seemed like the perfect character to embody that.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
At the end of the book, Mouse gets a “warm, toasty” feeling from sharing his goodies. I like that warm, toasty feeling, and I think it captures the true meaning of Christmas.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?
This book originally was about Valentine’s Day, then it was about Christmas. My publisher asked me to be more general and do just a winter theme because they felt the Christmas book market is overcrowded.

How long before Christmas did you submit to your publisher?
This book was submitted at least two years before publication. It usually takes that long for a traditionally published picture book to come out, because the process is quite involved.

How and why did you choose this publisher?
I’ve worked with Holiday House on many, many books. They have published all of the previous Mouse books.

What about your book makes it special?
This is the first time Mouse interacts with other animals besides Cat. In this book, Mouse makes friends.

What does Christmas mean to you?
I love Christmas. The smells of fresh pine, and baking gingerbread cookies; the flavors of cinnamon and spice; the glow of candles. It’s such a warm holiday, staving off the darkness and chill of winter. I always hate putting away the decorations and I have to remind myself I can see them again the next year.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My sisters and brother and I used to sleep upstairs on cots in my grandparents house on Christmas Eve. Early in the morning, we’d all creep downstairs, grab our stockings, and take them back up to see what Santa brought. My mother would usually join us before the other grownups were awake.  

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
My favorite stocking stuffer was a tiny pair of china shoes with blue flowers painted on them. I’ve always loved miniatures, maybe that’s why I like to write about mice!

What was your favorite Christmas present? 
My favorite Christmas present was a red bicycle.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Synopsis:  Mouse goes outside on a snowy day. He builds a snowman, ice skates across a pond, and escapes from Cat. He also makes friends with a trio of southbound birds, and lends a helping hand.

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.

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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.