Monday, May 13, 2019

Interview with political thriller author Mark Spivak

Author Mark Spivak is here today to chat with me about his new political thriller, The American Crusade.

During his virtual book tour, Mark will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

In the realm of non-fiction, award-winning author Mark Spivak focuses on wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. His first book, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, was published by Lyons Press in 2012. He followed this with Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014), hailed as the definitive book on illegal corn whiskey in America. From 1994-1999 he was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post, and was honored for excellence in wine criticism “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine & Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, and contributes to a number of national magazines. He is also the holder of the Certificate and Advanced Diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s first novel, Friend of the Devil, was published by Black Opal Books in May 2016. Set in Palm Beach in 1990, it tells the story of America’s most famous chef, who has sold his soul to the Devil for fame and fortune.

Mark also has an endless fascination with the American political system and is an avid follower of Washington politics. His second novel, The American Crusade (a gripping political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq, which dips into the shadowy world of government conspiracy and political sabotage), will be released by TCK Publishing on April 4. He is currently at work on Impeachment, the sequel to The American Crusade.

Welcome, Mark. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The American Crusade is a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq. The story is mainly told through the eyes of Robert Hornsby, the vice president and former CIA director, with occasional flashbacks to an eyewitness account of the Fourth Crusade—a historical event that was eerily similar to the Iraq invasion, down to some very small details. It is a meditation on history, and ponders the question: Does history repeat itself, or do people repeat it?

What inspired you to write this book?
I was doing some reading about the Crusades when I suddenly realized that the Iraq invasion was the instant replay of the Fourth Crusade.

Excerpt from The American Crusade:

The lights from the lanterns flickered against the walls of the cave. It was nearing midnight on May 1 in the tribal areas of Kabulistan, the mountainous and impenetrable regions high up near the Persepostan border. Salman Al-Akbar sat on a cushion, surrounded by his inner circle. Fazil Ahmadi, his director of operations, had just finished briefing him on the aftermath of the Mall of America attack and the subsequent suicide missions around the United States.
“Allah be praised!” Al-Akbar’s normally sad eyes were bright and jubilant. “We have succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, beyond the reach of our dreams. Allah is most with us.”
“This is so,” said Fazil Ahmadi. “Had we dreamed it, it could not have gone better.”
“What time is it now in Washington?”
“Four-thirty in the afternoon, sir.”
“And where is the young American President now?”
“We have no knowledge of his whereabouts, sir. He is in hiding.”
“Hiding?” Al-Akbar’s eyebrows arched toward the ceiling of the cave, and his normally expressionless face was close to registering hilarity. “From whom is he hiding? Robert Hornsby?”
“He has been removed from sight, sir. We suspect they took him to one of their nuclear installations.”
“Do they actually think we are in possession of nuclear weapons?”
“We believe it is a precaution on their part, sir.”
“Allah be praised!” Al-Akbar clapped his hands in glee. “This is beyond our imagining. Everything has gone off perfectly, with synchronized precision.”
“They will most certainly retaliate, sir.”
“Against whom?” asked Al-Akbar with contempt. “Our forces are safe. The loyalty of the warlords is secure, and they will not betray us
           “We believe their most likely target will be the Dua Khamail. They will wage war against them and will surely defeat them. Then, they will restore Selim Hanjuk to power.”
“Let them have the Dua Khamail.” Al-Akbar shrugged. “To us, it matters not who is the ruler of Kabulistan. Any war they wage against the innocent population can only help us. It will bring more recruits to our side.”
“This is true.”
“One thing I will guarantee you. They may topple the government of Kabulistan, or all of the governments of the earth, but they will never be at peace again. As they fall off to sleep, they will see us in their nightmares.”
“Yes, sir. Our position is strong, and the Americans can only immerse themselves in quicksand by invading Kabulistan. They will never find us, much less defeat us.”
“Their memories are short,” mused Al-Akbar. “They forget that the Russians tried and failed. It was their Vietnam. And the Americans are far weaker than the Russians. They do not have the will for a prolonged conflict.”
“Let us not underestimate their military strength, sir.”
“These infidels are like the Crusaders of old.” Al-Akbar’s fingers worked prayer beads in the darkness of the cave. “They have many troops, they have excellent weapons, and they have knowledge of warfare. But they lack the fire of belief, as well as the support of their people. And they do not have Allah on their side.” He smiled approvingly at his lieutenant. “You have done well today. And soon we will do better still. Today is the beginning of the great Jihad. Nearly eight hundred years ago, the East was ruled by Saladin and the true believers were victorious. That day will come again.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on Impeachment, the sequel to The American Crusade.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Interesting question: many people consider themselves to be writers, but they need validation from the outside world. I think the turning point for me was when I had my first piece in National Geographic Traveler, since I realized no one could say I wasn’t a writer at that point.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m up very early, around 4 or 4:30 am. Most of the useful work occurs before 10am, but I write continually throughout the day. In some ways, it turns out to be very similar to other jobs: you have to get to your desk and put in eight hours or so, but you can take breaks in between.

I don’t do anything useful other than write. I have no hobbies. I’m totally consumed and obsessed by the task at hand.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have so many quirks that it’s difficult to isolate one, but I’d say my refusal to outline or do any organized plotting. I just fly by the seat of my pants and try to let the story tell itself.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I decided at age 11 that I wanted to be a writer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
We’re in this together, and I greatly appreciate your support.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Mark Spivak said...

Thank you for hosting me today. I look forward to meeting your readers and answering any questions they might have.

Bernie Wallace said...

How many books have you written so far?

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great read.

Mark Spivak said...

To answer Bernie's question (a bit late, sorry): Four published books---two non-fiction, two novels. Like most people, numerous other manuscripts languishing on my computer.

Victoria Alexander said...

Can't wait to read this one!

Cali W. said...

I like the excerpt; thanks for the giveaway. :)

Bernie Wallace said...

Do you have any ideas for a sequel to the book?

James Robert said...

Another great book to discover. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Mark Spivak said...

Bernie: I'm currently finishing up the sequel, tentatively titled Impeachment. I won't give away any spoilers, but the plot revolves around two wealthy industrialists, billionaire brothers who use their money to manipulate the system for their own agenda.

Bernie Wallace said...