It is my extreme pleasure to welcome author Allan Topol to Book Reviews & More by Kathy.
1. Where are you based and where do you do most of your writing?
I am based in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C. I do much of my writing in the study in my house. However, I also travel a great deal, particularly researching international locales for my novels. When I travel, I am always writing whether it’s on an airplane, in a hotel room, or in a café. I am fortunate that I can concentrate and tune out any background noise.
So, for example, I am now working on a book about Italy. I did writing this summer in Sardinia, in Stresa, and in Paris, as well as other places in Northern Italy.
2. How did you choose to write in the thriller genre?
Before I began writing novels, I wrote nonfiction articles dealing with international issues and I still do that. Recently, one of my articles, inspired by my new novel, The Russian Endgame, appeared on the Huffington Post and I was invited to be a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. For several years I wrote op-ed pieces for Military.com
I turned to fiction and the thriller genre in part in order to present my thoughts and ideas about international issues while presenting a fast-moving, page turner, with strong male and female characters. I always wanted to write fiction and found that the thriller genre suited my style and my ideas.
3. What distinguishes your novels from other thrillers?
My objective in writing a novel is to have the reader learn something about an important international geopolitical issue and something about history involving a foreign country at the same time that the reader is staying up at night turning pages and enjoying the story. This is what distinguishes my novels from other thrillers. Is the concept that the reader will come away having learned something about an important international topic at the same time that the reader enjoys the stories.
4. How do you get your ideas for writing?
Some of my ideas come from international events which are unfolding rapidly in the world. In The Russian Endgame, the possibility of a resurgent Russia joining with China in an alliance to inflict harm on the United States is an idea which came to me from my following current events involving Russian and China. Likewise, another element in The Russian Endgame is China’s effort to steal advanced U.S. defense technology. This is occurring in the real world, and when I read about these events I began to consider how I might weave them into a story. However, I wish to emphasize that I am not writing non-fiction and these serious topics, while interesting and an important part of the novel, are merely background. What drives the novel is the story and the characters. And those I had a great deal of fun developing in The Russian Endgame.
5. How do you get your ideas for the characters?
My characters are composites of people I have met throughout life. The Russian Endgame is my ninth novel. While I have been writing novels for a number of years, I have also been practicing law with a large Washington law firm. As a lawyer, I have gotten to meet individuals, many of whom have striking personality traits, and traveled to foreign locales. These people whom I’ve met have characteristics which I have drawn upon those in creating my characters.
Also, my hero, Craig Page, is to some extent autobiographical and to some extent a product of my fantasy. Craig is from a blue collar background, as I am. We both attended Carnegie Mellon University. He is a patriot who loves his country and wants to help the United States. He hates bureaucracy, as I do. That much is the reality. Then there is a fantasy. The missions Craig goes on, the battles in which he engages are products of my imagination. I have not been involved in the kind of shoot outs which Craig regularly does, except in my mind.
My lead female character and Craig’s love interest is Elizabeth Crowder. She’s smart, determined, gutsy and courageous. She represents the type of strong female character whom I have come to respect over the years and who I would like to feature in my novels.
6. Why do you now have series characters?
For my first six novels, I never repeated the same characters. However, when I wrote The China Gambit, my seventh novel, I became attached to Craig Page and Elizabeth Crowder, my two lead characters, and I did not want to let go of them. So it seemed to make sense to begin a series with them.
I have found that satisfying as an author and I have appreciated that many readers have told me that they, too, have become attached to the characters. They now feel as if they know Craig and Elizabeth.
It has been a challenge, however, in using series characters to make certain that each novel is a standalone novel, and I believe that I have achieved that. Thus, the reader who picks up The Russian Endgame will be able to fully appreciate that novel even if that reader has not read The China Gambit or The Spanish Revenge, the first two novels with these series characters.
7. How was the title The Russian Endgame decided?
I like putting the name of the country which plays a major role in the novel into the title. For example, The China Gambit and The Spanish Revenge. So putting the word Russian was easy. The hard part was finding the noun, which it should modify. I like Endgame because it implies moves in a game of chess. Although there is no chess in this novel, Craig and General Zhou are engaged in a mental battle with each other that resembles a chess game. In one respect, a certain finality is reached among my lead characters and hence the word Endgame. They are approaching their final moves. I do not want to say any more about it for fear of giving away the story.
I have received very favorable comments on the title selection.
I hope you will read and enjoy The Russian Endgame. Please feel free to give me your comments on the reader mail on my website, www.AllanTopol.com.
Allan Topol is the author of eight novels of international intrigue. Two of them, SPY DANCE and ENEMY MY ENEMY, were national best sellers. His novels have been translated into Japanese, Portuguese and Hebrew. One was optioned and three are in development for movies. His new novel, THE RUSSIAN ENDGAME, is the third in a trilogy of Craig Page novels, following the successful CHINA GAMBIT and SPANISH REVENGE.
In addition to his fiction writing, Allan Topol co-authored a two-volume legal treatise entitled SUPERFUND LAW AND PROCEDURE. He wrote a weekly column for Military.com and has published articles in numerous periodicals including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Yale Law Journal. http://www.allantopol.com/
Title: The Russian Endgame by Allan Topol
Craig Page Thriller Book Three
Genre: Contemporary, Political Thriller
Length: 320 pages
When former KGB agent Dimitri Orlov orchestrates an alliance between two world powers bent on domination, he unleashes a powerful chain of events that will rock the Western World. The agenda? Eliminate the President of the United States and seize classified military weaponry capable of shifting the balance of world power. But before this nefarious scheme can reach fruition, Craig Page is on the scene, joined by companion Elizabeth Crowder, ready to confront a painful past and the enemies that helped create it. But can the indomitable Director of Counterterrorism emerge victorious? Finding himself facing an old enemy unexpectedly catapulted into a lethal position of power, Craig is pushed to the limit in an effort to foil his enemy’s deadly plans and keep potentially devastating military technology out of the hands of those prepared to destroy the world as he knows it.
Filled with thrills, twists, and danger, The Russian Endgame showcases best-selling author Allan Topol’s talent for delivering electrifying, gripping expeditions into the world of international intrigue.
Read my review of The Russian Endgame HERE.