A Special Online interview with author: A.S. Bond
Interviewed by Fran Lewis
This is a special 2 part interview
Summary of the book:
What would you do for your country? In Afghanistan, a US Army Patrol is devastated by an enemy with sophisticated weaponry, while in D.C., Pentagon staffer Scott Jenson tips off the ambitious young reporter Brooke Kinley about a billionaire businessman’s involvement in terrorism. But why is the White House determined to protect this businessman, and why does the answer seem to lie in the Canadian wilderness? In a dangerous journey to the remotest parts of the world, Brooke races to prevent a catastrophic attack on America, but can she uncover the real traitor?
PATRIOT is a very high octane adventure thriller that will appeal to fans of Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler or Robert Ludlum.
Define Patriot: which character/characters does this definition apply to in this novel?
PATRIOT is a thriller, with a LOT of action, but there is also a strong political theme to the story, with military, technology and sea elements, too. All the main characters have an adventure in this story, but it is my heroine, Brooke Kinley, who leads the way. One reviewer has described her as a “female Indiana Jones” (minus the archeology, of course)!
Tell our readers about your career as a journalist
Unlike many authors, who also work as journalists, I started my professional life writing books. These were non-fiction titles, as are the other five titles I had published before I turned to writing fiction with PATRIOT. There is a close relationship between writing non-fiction books and journalism, especially magazine journalism, which is my area. I’ve worked as a freelancer for 18 years, contributing features to magazines in the UK and North America on topics ranging from European wolves to self-build homes. Travel and property related topics are my specialism and, in addition to my own addition to travel, this work also takes me around the world. This, of course, gives me plenty of inspiration for writing fiction!
When creating Brooke how much of your real life experience as a journalist did you incorporate in either the story? What part of Brooke mirrors A.S. Bond?
Well, I’d love to say that I am as courageous, charismatic, beautiful or as good with a canoe paddle as Brooke, but I’m not! I did lead a canoe expedition in Labrador, Canada however, which gave me a lot of background and inspiration for the part of the book set in the country there. As a freelance magazine journalist, my work is also very different to Brooke’s job in a high-pressure newsroom on a major daily newspaper. However, I have some experience of the newsroom of a national newspaper in London, so I did draw on that.
The prologue is quite explosive: What made you start the novel in such a dramatic fashion?
The start of the novel was the hardest part to get right. I wrote it over three years before publication, but it only reached its final form a couple of months before release. It was originally much longer and I just ‘felt’ that it wasn’t working as the opening of a novel. The fate of the helicopter was the same, but there were a great deal of other things going on, too. I eventually had a ‘light bulb moment’ while driving one day, that I should strip out everything but the fate of that aircrew and now I’m really pleased with it. This is a good example of why I caution new writers not to rush to completion /publication. Sometimes the answer will just come to you, but you must give it time; lay the manuscript away for a while, come back to it and work on it until you are 100% happy.
How did you develop this plot? That’s a good question. Moving as I have from writing non-fiction books to writing fiction, I found the plotting probably the hardest part. I work on it with my husband (who is an avid reader of thrillers too). We start with the ‘thing’; what’s the book about? Once we have an overall concept (and usually the bones of a main character) the two together then start to suggest ideas to us and in this way, we begin to ‘flesh out’ the plot. I go from themes, down to sub-plots, to key scenes to chapter, planning, honing, re-shuffling events etc. I only start to write when I’m clear about all this in my head. That’s not to say some things won’t change, but they are usually on the lesser ‘event’ level, rather than overall plot. It’s important to say too that I took to heart the old advice ‘write about what you know’. I realized what I know is wilderness travel, which is why part of the book is set in Labrador. And there is a real wilderness theme. The rest is research, which is another thing journalists are good at!
How did you create the character of Scott Jensen? Was he based on anyone that you have ever worked with as a journalist?
Scott Jensen’s character is not based on any one individual. I stole his surname from a friend, but his character is more an amalgamation of several people I knew or came into contact with while I was living in Washington D.C. He is supposed to be the embodiment of the energetic, go-getting, ambitious type of people you find in Foggy Bottom.
What drove Brooke to pursue this investigation and place herself in danger?
Two things, really. Firstly, the information she received meant that her brother, Jaime, who is a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, could be in additional danger. Secondly, it’s her journalists’ nose. She scents a story here straightaway and once on its’ trail, there’s no giving up. Persistence is everything in journalism!
Why did she trust Dex?
She doesn’t at first; not entirely. Yet she has saved his life once and not to take him with her would equate to leaving him to die, so she has no choice. It is sometime however, before she shares with him exactly why she is in Labrador.
What scientific research went into this novel?
A great deal! I did a lot of desk research and I also talked to people to get exact details right. An example of this is the way in which the ship’s engines power the weapon. I talked to a ship’s engineer to learn how they worked and spent a lot of time looking a plans for motor yachts to check the locations of engine rooms etc. What is perhaps surprising – and what some readers and reviewers don’t realize – is that almost all of the events in the book have either happened/come to public attention subsequent to my first writing about them, or are very possible.
Why did you choose Weapons of mass destruction?
It’s a thriller! There has to be some kind of ultimate threat that can be aborted only by the actions of the lead character/s. That’s what differentiates it from a crime novel, where the event has already happened and simply remains to be solved by the lead character. It’s why I think thrillers are a lot more exciting, both to read and to write!
There is so much technology in this book: Which would you like to share with our readers?
I did a LOT of research and it has either happened, or is very likely to happen.
What else would you like to share with readers about the plot and about Brooke?
If you love the kind of book that keeps you turning ‘just one more page’ when you should be asleep in bed, then this is the book for you! It starts with a bang in Afghanistan and this sets off a series of events that leads our heroine deep into the wilds of Canada, out into the Atlantic onboard a hijacked motor yacht and ultimately, to Washington D.C. The twists and turns will keep you guessing right ‘till the end! It’s received 5* reviews everywhere, by both lovers of traditional thrillers and those who are open fresh ideas and cross over genres. Is it an adventure thriller? A political thriller? Or 21st century women’s fiction? You tell me!
Part Two of the Two Part Interview Tomorrow: Fran Lewis: Interviewer