ITW Interview with Michael F. Stewart

Original articles:
http://michaelfstewart.com/itw-interview-alan-l-lee-sandstorm/
http://www.thebigthrill.org/2013/05/sandstorm-by-alan-l-lee/

ITW website: http://thrillerwriters.org/

This June, Alex Koves, a cunning and lethal U.S. Intelligence asset, will be unleashed on the world. This is what happens when a journalist with three decades of experience conceives a thriller. He births a ripped from the headlines page turner. And if events play out as they do in the novel, nothing will ever be the same.

Lurking in the shadows, away from any government oversight, a secret partnership has been formed between an Israeli spymaster pulling the strings of the most efficient killing machine the Mossad has to offer and an exclusive billionaire boys club that wants to dictate the New World Order. In their pocket is a powerful U.S. senator who aspires to the presidency. Success means vast wealth and increased power, and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.

CIA operative Nora Mossa is trained to kill when the situation calls for it. She’s also capable of disappearing into thin air. Being efficient, deadly, and beautiful, however, won’t be enough to protect her after her mentor Erica Janway is assassinated in her Maryland home. With everyone in the Agency suspect, Nora turns to the only person capable of keeping her alive while she uncovers the truth behind Janway’s demise—her former lover and ex–CIA agent Alex Koves. That is, if he will even speak to her.

With danger lurking in every corner of the globe, Koves and Nora must stay alive long enough to piece together the clues to a deadly plot capable of killing thousands in the Middle East. And the clock is ticking…

BOOKLIST and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors agree:

“The character development here is first-rate, and the story line is intense. What could easily have been just another conspiracy thriller feels fresh and new in the capable hands of first-novelist Lee.” —BOOKLIST

“Death, mayhem, murder, Mossad, nukes, maniac billionaires set on world domination, double- and (of course) triple-crosses, SANDSTORM has all the muscle-power of its title.”—Brad Meltzer, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of THE BOOK OF FATE.

“SANDSTORM is excitement detonated! Taut and terrifying, Alan Lee’s debut thriller drops us into the kill zone of possibilities lurking behind real headlines.”—Vince Flynn, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of KILL SHOT.

With a wife, two kids, a big job as the FOX NEWS anchor for Detroit, all while penning a sequel, I’m so pleased Alan L. Lee can be here for an interview!

Alan, having interviewed many famous authors yourself, what’s the best interview tip you have for me?

Do your homework because you never know when you might have to carry the conversation or fill in the blanks. Also, it’s good to know things about the person outside of what they’re prepared to talk about. It can loosen them up a bit to know you’ve taken a genuine interest.

Turning the tables a bit, what’s the burning question you’d ask a debut author and what’s your answer to it?

What was the motivation to put yourself out there? My answer would be being a novelist was something that had been burning inside of me since I was a kid. I loved to read and couldn’t get enough of spy thrillers, detective stories and mysteries growing up. I also think there’s a certain amount of mystique surrounding a novelist. A cool factor if you will.

Can you tell readers more about Alex Koves and Nora Mossa … what motivates them?

Alex is driven, plain and simple. He loves to compete. A former professional athlete, he loves being engaged in the moment and being challenged. He has a hard edge when he’s in the moment, but a caring, compassionate side is part of his makeup as well. He chooses his friends carefully and places a high value on loyalty.

Nora is a confident, smart, independent woman with a lethal set of skills. She’s motivated by a belief system of right over wrong and serving her country provides a means to put those beliefs into practice. Like Alex, her inner circle is very small.

Nora Mossa and Alex Koves had had a relationship … Why is he the only one she can turn to and what makes him the most unlikely of partners?

Because she works for the CIA, Nora has trust issues. When her mentor, who also works for the CIA, is killed, Nora feels like there’s no one she can turn to within the Agency. After her life is threatened, she’s convinced there’s only one person she can trust. Alex though, is not exactly welcoming. They hadn’t seen each other in years and their relationship ended badly. So much so, that he swore to never see her again.

In SANDSTORM, the antagonist is part of the Global Watch Institute, a Machiavellian billionaire boys club. What are they after? Do you believe a real group like this could exist?

The expression “You can never have enough” holds true for the men of the Global Watch Institute. They seek greater power and influence, knowing that increased wealth will follow. I not only believe a group like this could exist, I believe it does exist on some levels. There are corporations with a business model and individuals behind those directives that have the drive to see them implemented. They weigh the costs of doing business in relation to the ultimate gain. Powerful governments all over the world have been doing that for centuries. The danger comes when such groups operate without any enforceable oversight.

What sets SANDSTORM apart from the other conspiracy thrillers on the market?

I think the characters have a freshness, realness to them. The issues and plot that drive the story appear in the headlines currently from time to time. It’s loosely based on a real effort by the U.S. and Israel to slowdown Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Mossad and CIA… these organizations aren’t the most generous with their secrets; how do you learn enough about them to write with verisimilitude?

Wow, let me applaud you for the use of “verisimilitude”. I’m trying to figure out how I can work that one into a news script one morning. I read a lot. I’ve got news and magazine clippings all over the place as if I’m a conspiracy buff. I think you’d be very surprised how much information actually gets leaked; in small doses usually, like puzzle pieces. You have to put them all together to get an idea of the total picture. Plus, spies do talk. Some of it is to misinform, while other times it’s to aid their organization’s agenda.

Also, from working in Washington, DC, I enjoyed the times I got to cover the intelligence community. Let’s just say I met some people.

What has been your experience as a debut author with Tor Forge?

Amazing! They held my hand and gently walked me through every phase of getting SANDSTORM to print. From top to top (because I don’t think there’s a bottom) they’ve been a great group to work with. I mean the jacket cover alone will probably be hanging as a piece of art in my house.

As a first-time novelist you go into this thing with your eyes wide open and eager to please. I made every deadline way ahead of time because I didn’t want to become “that guy!”

The best part is I feel like I’ve established friendships with people that I have yet to actually meet in person. I’ve got tons of email correspondence.

What are you working on next?

Book 2. It carries over some elements from SANDSTORM, but it will achieve the goal of being a totally fresh, stand alone story loosely based on real events.

What’s the weirdest piece of news you’ve ever had to cover?

Can’t say I recall the weirdest, but the most memorable was covering Princess Diana’s funeral. We were among the first U.S. TV stations to arrive in London and got to see the whole week unfold into a grand scale event watched throughout the world.

I loved the cab drivers. We had a couple of guys with immense personality. One was in love with an American expression that I can’t repeat here, and the funny thing was, he kept using it in the wrong context with sheer enjoyment.

Still, the week was totally unforgettable. I can remember it as if it were yesterday.

Finally, and surely the most important question: Why on earth did you ever move from the Virgin Islands?

Okay. Okay. I get asked this one a lot. Hey, I was in my mid-twenties when I left. I was ambitious and had a whole career that I wanted in TV ahead of me. Even I will concede that it looks like a crazy move now because years later, I HATE cold weather. Plus playing lots of sports has shred my knees. The cold and my joints don’t get along. The beaches by the way are amazing.

Thanks for your time, Alan, and good luck with the launch of SANDSTORM!

Date: August 21, 2013