Saturday, January 23, 2010

Special Writers' Weekend: An Interview with John Le Beau!

Thanks for joining me today, for a look into John Le Beau's new novel, Collision of Evil. At the end of the interview, look for a chance to win a signed copy!

Hi John ~ thanks for being here today! Can you tell us a little about your background?

Most of my adult life was spent as an intelligence operations officer in the Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. In that capacity, I spent the better part of a quarter century in intelligence work, most of it outside of the United States. I had the distinct privilege to serve with an extraordinary group of people at CIA and to work in some fascinating parts of the world. Having retired from CIA a few years ago, I am currently very engaged in my new position as a professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany.

Once again, I have been fortunate to associate with another highly talented, very dedicated group of professionals dealing with transnational security issues for an international audience. The Marshall Center position allows me to travel to various locations around the world and to pursue the theme of terrorism studies, which is one of the major security issues of the 21st century. At the same time, I am honored to serve as the chairman of the Combating Terrorism Working Group, a component of the Partnership for Peace Consortium.

Wow, very interesting! Now, tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

My first novel, Collision of Evil, has recently been released by Oceanview. Although I have written non-fiction pieces on intelligence activity and terrorism, this is my first venture into the world of fiction. Collision of Evil is a thriller dealing with contemporary terrorism and intelligence operations, but is also meant to link with malevolent forces from the past. The book is set in several locations, but its anchor is in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, an area that I am well familiar with – and where I currently live – and an area that I hope will appeal to readers as something a bit exotic and exciting.

The book revolves around the investigatory work of a German Kommissar of police, who is a detective, and a CIA case officer. They enjoy an uneasy relationship, coming from two different cultures. The American is sort of in-your-face and optimistic, his German counterpart considerably more reserved, a bit irritable and perhaps pessimistic. I would like to think that this underlying tension to their relationship adds a bit of drama to the story as well!

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

That is not always easy – and I expect that answer likely holds true for many writers. I have daytime and fulltime responsibilities aside from writing, which means that I have to carve out time to put pen to paper. I find that I do most of my writing on weekends, when I have some blocks of time at my disposal. Of course, I do write some evenings, but that can be a bit difficult after a long day, and I do want to spend time with family members and on recreation. So, if I am working on a text in the evening, it is often really some editing, re-reading or polishing language a bit. I find that if I have a couple of hours, I can write productively.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Writer’s block, so-called, can affect non-fiction as well as fictional endeavors. It can and often does stem from two things. Either you have not adequately conceptualized where you want to go with the written word in terms of coherent structure (with non-fiction) or with plot (for fiction), or you just have a feeling that that mystical and expressive, creative dimension is temporarily absent.

Both of these developments do ‘block’ the ability to write. In my own case, I find it valuable to try to discipline myself to write, even if I feel that I am not in the optimal state for that. Sitting in front of the PC, or at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a pad of paper, sort of forces you to attend to the task at hand. I will often start by refining some prose I have previously put together and that seems to transition me often into more active new writing. It is important to know what you are about to convey – to have a fairly detailed sense of where the plot is going, what a chapter is supposed to contribute to the overall storyline. I find that I sometimes outline on paper where everything is going, and how various disparate story threads need to come together to form a satisfyingly entertaining, credible and cohesive whole.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My position at the George C. Marshall Center keeps me very busy, with lectures, leading seminar discussions, arranging security-theme programs and the like. It also has entailed a notable amount of professional travel to areas such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Turkey. My CIA career also required considerable international travel. So, during my free time, I am generally content to hang around in one location. We live in Garmisch, Germany and also have a residence in Austria, arguably some of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, and I am quite happy to spend time in those venues.

I love to walk and hike around and find that very rewarding. I cross-country ski in the winter as well,. We have a circle of friends, including Americans, Germans and Austrians, and I enjoy spending time in that social setting. I still like to learn, and, to be honest, I very much enjoy writing fiction; it is a real pleasure for me and rewarding in many ways. I am currently about half-way through the manuscript of a second novel and am anxious to bring it to closure. The Kommissar Waldbaer and case officer Hirter characters return, along with some new additions, some benign and some malevolent, and involve themselves in another international thriller plot. Some of this has a nautical setting, some of it takes place in Azerbaijan and Jordan, but the center of gravity is the Alps, giving Bavaria and the Austrian Tyrol their due.

John, thanks for a wonderful interview! Now, for readers, if you'd like a chance to win a signed copy of Collision Evil, simply go to John's book tour page HERE and enter your name, email, and PIN# 6772.

Entries from Allie's Musings will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on his book tour page next week.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fun Facts

NOTICE: Tomorrow I'll be featuring author John Le Beau on his book tour for his novel Collision of Evil. Here's the blurb to whet your appetite:

As evening falls against the majestic backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, Charles Hirter, an American tourist, is savagely murdered. In the peace, quiet and pastoral splendor of this magnificent setting, Charles Hirter draws his last breath. Was Charles simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Kommissar Franz Waldbaer, the German detective in charge of the case, faces an investigation that yields neither clues nor suspects nor motives. A gruff, go-it alone detective, Waldbaer is dismayed by the arrival of Robert Hirter, the victim's brother, who insists on joining the investigation. But there is more to Robert than meets the eye.

As Robert and the Kommissar uncover a nefarious nexus of evil past and evil present, they find themselves probing dark, long-forgotten episodes from the Third Reich in order to identify the present threat.

Thrust into a violent world of fanatic passions, malevolent intentions and excruciating urgency, Robert Hirter and Kommissar Waldbaer must race against the clock to stop a sophisticated, covert, and deadly plot.

Stop back tomorrow to read John's interview and enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Collision of Evil!


My new favorite poet/author is Brian Andreas. Have you heard of him? His quotes have been bouncing around for a while now; I just didn't know who he was until recently. Here are some of the most well-known/well-liked:

"Anyone can slay a dragon ...but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero."

"We lay there and looked up at the night sky and she told me about stars called blue squares and red swirls and I told her I'd never heard of them. Of course not, she said, the really important stuff they never tell you. You have to imagine it on your own."

"Are you a princess? I said & she said I'm much more than a princess, but you don't have a name for it yet here on earth. "

"In my dream, the angel shrugged and said, if we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination and then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand."

"A few said they'd be horses. Most said they'd be some sort of cat. My friend said she'd like to come back as a porcupine. I don't like crowds, she said. "

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Changing Editors

"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it." ~Mary Engelbreit

Quick update:

WC on Entwined, my "literary romance" that jumps between time periods and follows 2 love stories: 80K and finished! Now sitting for a few weeks until I go back for another revision.

WC on The Dance Club, my women's fiction novel based on the women in my Zumba class...which will probably not find a publishing house because the genre isn't selling right now: 16K.

WC on my untitled YA novel: 16K and moving along well. Funny how smoothly the writing is going. I suppose that's partly because I'm around teenagers ALL THE TIME. (Now watch me jinx myself!)


And in other news, I recently got the news that my editor is leaving Samhain Publishing :( She was the second editor I'd worked with there, and she edited both One Night in Napa and Summer's Song. She was tough and a stickler, and I'll miss her. I'm being reassigned to another editor, but at Samhain so much of what's published is super-hot/erotic romance, that I'm sure the Executive Editor is tearing her hair out and thinking, 'Hmm...where to put this Allie Boniface with the closed-door sex scenes??' Haha. Well, we'll see what happens. Nothing is ever certain but change!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Mentionables: I Have a Dream

The biggest mentionable today, of course, is that it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And in honor of that, here's his famous speech, "I Have a Dream". I would like to think that he was looking down from heaven last election day, heart overflowing, at the fact that this country elected its first black president. Yes, we still have a ways to come. But I see and hear the way the next generation treats each other, and there is cause for much hope that in the next years, and in the next decades, we will come that much closer to bridging the distance between all of us: