I was a rebellious kid, and left my parents' home early, to travel, working along the way, and enrolling in a university (mostly for the free dormitory lodging that it offered). One of the jobs I picked up was a government gig that turned into nearly everything a young man ever wants to be. It allowed me to witness the behind-the-scenes of political maneuvering, to see the human beings behind the public personas of some of the highest officials. That experience inspired my writing.
Where are you in the world?
I spend most of my time in the pristine Kawarthas [Ontario, Canada], a remote region where writing meets no distractions.
A former top-secret government courier (wow!); is it the inspiration for your novels?
Is it not true for most creators that we draw from personal experiences? From what we know? From what we are? If I were the world's greatest lover (not that I lack in that respect), I'd write tales of seduction.
Writing fiction is a way to camouflage ourselves. Some people choose writing to express all those feelings or experiences, which, for whatever reasons, they are forced to conceal, whereas others pour out for the sheer exhibitionist's thrill.
Whatever the case may be we write what moves us, whether these be unfulfilled dreams, or overwhelming experiences that must be unloaded to keep us sane.
Your novels are spy-thrillers. Tell me about your writing...
Writing thrillers is not an easy task. As any genre, it has its devoted readers who have certain expectations. Meeting those expectations, while maintaining some level of originality, which distinguishes one writer from another, is perhaps the biggest challenge.
Writing spy fiction provides additional challenges, in that much of what true espionage is about is... not very exciting. It's more of an analytical work than James Bond would have it. For this reason most espionage novels are pure fiction, with little connection to the real world of spies. Spying generally involves the retrieval of information that is hidden, or otherwise not available. The shootings, stabbing in the back, or poisoning, etc, while it certainly happens to spies, is mostly the work of a whole other department, and has little to do with actual espionage.
So, there you go, for the benefit of the reader, and to find a publisher, a writer of espionage fiction must maintain the illusion and perpetuate fiction. That brings me to the crucial question: Why do I write at all? And the answer is: The run-of-the-mill espionage novels are not satisfying to me as a reader. I write what I seek as a reader, but cannot find. The reality of the world of espionage is what I miss in spy novels, and thus I strive to fill that void.
How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
I write nothing down. I do not make notes. You will find nothing in my house that would indicate where my ideas come from. Drawing from personal experiences I am a firm believer in the old maxim, well expressed by Maxim Gorky, that that which we cannot remember is simply not worth remembering, little else writing down.
Where do the ideas come from? Again, this goes back to our experiences, to that which moves us, and which we need to come to terms with, to why do writers write at all? Beyond the simple need to satisfy our ego, many of us write not because we know the answer to what moves us, but because we seek the answer to the unanswerable, or where the answer is suppressed. Espionage is all about the illusion. Everything we think we know about it is either wrong, or planted by the services involved in it. I write with the aim to straighten that, which is purposely obscured. It is my guiding thought.
Where do you like to write?
Being surrounded by tranquil wilderness and the simplicity of living in a wooden hut is the best way to put aside all that which presses on us in everyday life, from work, to regular household chores, to the unavoidable hustle and bustle of a neighborhood, whether a large urban area, or a hamlet, where a simple grocery shopping distracts and affects the creative process in, well, a negative way.
Do you write everyday?
Writing is not a matter of choice; it's not something you switch on, and off. I feel guilty when I don't write. Days seem wasted when, for whatever reason, I am unable to sit down at the keyboard. If I were writing a diary I'd have to put down "Nothing" under a day when I wrote nothing. It would be a day wasted. However, it is important to note that not all writing involves putting together letters, and words, and sentences. As I mentioned - I write no notes, but I do plot, and plan in my head. So, even when I'm seemingly doing nothing, as it may appear to an outsider who sees me on a park bench, I may in fact be deeply involved in the process of creation.
What are you currently working on?
I'm in the final stages of two novels. Both require the last re-writes. They are a part of a trilogy of change, books challenging the established world and social order. As in all my books, these too are inspired by actual events. One draws on a true story of a plot orchestrated by wealthy industrialists to oust a US president who chose to stand by his citizens during economically devastating times, and the other one deals with a certain religious Order that goes beyond a prayer, as an ineffective way to rid the world of evil, and picks up arms instead.
Who is your favorite author?
I would sooner mention numerous favorite authors, than a single one. The list of authors would be quite long, but their writing boils down to something that is seldom practiced these days (and is not necessarily the writers' fault) - a message.
I like to read to learn about how others see us - about world affairs, about the human condition - all seen from varied perspectives. For this reason I prefer to turn to writers from outside of the English language sphere. In fact some of these writers were responsible for my desire to learn foreign languages, to read what was (and often still is) not available in the English language. Writers with a social conscience are particularly dear to me.
Do you have suggestions for novice writers?
In these times when anyone can publish a book, and in essence become an author, it is ever more important to stay clear from conformity with "established" trends. These produce a plethora of forgettable books. The current fluidity in the publishing industry allows one, at last, to write and to publish what one wants, what one feels passionate about, without relying on what the publishers want. It's important to remember that it isn't the publishers who set the trends - they only cash in on them. You, the writer, are in the driver's seat.