Political

A Desire for Vengeance

A Desire for Vengeance - L.R. Puttock

I'm not much for Political Thrillers. But I do appreciate the intense amount of time, effort, and research that they take to create. Whether based on an actual event/inciting incident or merely the brainchild of someone who has their finger on the political pulse, these types of thrillers always force readers to ask "Could this have actually happened?"

What I really enjoyed about this book, was just how realistic the main character was. While she's a strong female lead, she wasn't particularly likable. I appreciated her determination, her courage, and her loyalty to her sister and beliefs, but I would not want to attempt to befriend this woman. Nor did I agree with all of her actions: choosing to continue to put herself, her little one, and her sister in danger. I'm always skeptical of characters that are perfect and 100% likable. They can lack the depth of real personality. So this definitely added to the realistic quality of this thriller.

All the components add together to create a very thrilling ride of a book. Those of you who truly enjoy political thrillers will not be disappointed in A Desire for Vengeance. The writing is excellent, the characters are strong, and the logic all seems sound. 


Some Bio Information

I was born in Hackney, in the East-end of London in 1955. After leaving school at the age of fifteen, I had many jobs, including a brief stint in the army, finally fetching up as a computer operator for an insurance company. Forty-two years later, I still work in IT for a major US bank in London. I now live in Surrey (about twenty miles south of the centre of London) with my wife, Jayne, our children, Robert and Jennie and granddaughter Millie.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I have always had a desire to be a writer and must have planned 100’s of novels and short stories in my mind over the years. However, it was only relatively recently that I put pen to paper – or more accurately, fingers to keyboard. 

Throughout my career as a computer analyst/programmer and database designer my job was to develop and build structures that satisfied the firm’s requirements. The process is not unlike developing a plot and narrative so my creative needs were satisfied.  Then they made me a manager and my opportunities for creativity were suddenly confined to status reports and staff appraisals.  

I started to read even more than I had before, immersing myself in the works of Wilbur Smith, Frederick Forsyth, Bernard Cornwall, Richard Woodman and many others. Before long, I had exhausted the supply of adventure novels in my little local library. Left for a weekend without something to read, I began to write my own. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Process is probably too strong a word for it. It implies a degree of organization. I know where the story begins and have a loose plan in my head of where it is going. The route it takes depends on the characters and their response to the events I throw at them. I try to put myself into the POV character’s shoes and have them act as I think they would. Their reaction to an event triggers a further reaction in other characters, leading to more events. It is a bit like playing chess with yourself, turning the board each time to see events from the other side and reacting accordingly. That is probably why the book is longer than it should be.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character?

Oh dear! A cast of many! Probably C.S Forrester’s Horatio Hornblower, but also Wilbur Smith’s Sean Courtney (When the Lion Feeds, etc), Bernard Cornwell’s Uthred of Babbenburgh (The Warrior Chronicles series) and Lisbeth Salander (the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). I like to think of Sandy as “Giving  Lesbeth Salander a Long Kiss goodnight and adding a pinch of SALT”  

4. Will we be seeing more of Sandy?

There are two, maybe three more adventures for Sandy. I am currently writing the prequel of D4V, “Operation Cevapi”. There is also a part-written sequel set 20 years later where Sandy (in her new ID, Penny Thorpe) is a research scientist working on a secret weapon, only to have people and events from her past come back to haunt her. 

5. How much research did this book require?

Quite a lot, mostly on the internet but I have also read a number of books pertaining to the Bosnian Civil war, which was the underlying cause of the action in D4V. The character of Amanda was inspired by Stella Rimington, the first female Director General of MI5, who was in post at the time D4V is set. I read her autobiography a few years ago and got quote a lot of detail from it that I could put into my novel.

6. Describe your favorite place. 

The island of Santorini lies in the Aegean Sea, roughly halfway between Crete and Athens. Four thousand years ago it was the hub of the Minoan civilization, but it was destroyed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, in which the centre of the island disintegrated and sank into the sea (some scholars believe it was the inspiration for the story of Atlantis). What remains are two islands forming three-quarters of a circle, with a third-and-fourth island in the middle that have been formed by undersea eruptions of the still-active volcano. 

At the northern end of the island stands the little town of Oia. Layers of whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches cling to the precipitous side of the old caldera. So steep are the cliffs, that from the sea, the buildings appear to be stacked one upon the other. To stand on the cliffs and look out across the azure sea to the far side of the caldera is an artist’s or photographer’s dream. I visited this marvelous place two years ago and declared it then the most beautiful place I have ever visited.   

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My goal is to have people read my book and enjoy it. Sure, I would like to be successful and make lots of money – who wouldn’t – but that is not my goal. My writing is to me the same as a concert performed by an orchestra or perhaps more relevantly, a soloist. I get a buzz from people reading my work and telling me that they enjoyed it.
 

House Divided

House Divided - Peter G. Pollak

Growing up is hard. Period. End of story. Right? Not only is it a difficult physical transition for us, but with all the people in the world trying to persuade us to participate in their agenda, it's difficult to know who we can trust. 

In House Divided, we see just how important it is to really question the people who insert themselves into our lives. Courtney is a young impressionable college student who's looking for a way to better the world. Lulled in by what she considers to be a noble cause, she finds herself stuck in the middle of terrorist activity.  And all the while, her father is cringing at her choice of friends and extra curricular activities, but even he isn't aware of just how far her new friends will go to force his daughter's involvement. 

As the reader, it's easy to see what's going on and where Courtney is going to inevitably end up. But consider the implications in your own life. Who are you listening to? Who are you allowing to influence you? It's not always as black and white as it seems. 

While political thrillers are not really my style, I enjoyed watching Courtney and her father butt heads as they moved towards the cataclysmic conclusion of the novel. I felt myself grow anxious as I began to put the pieces together and formed an assumption of what was going to happen. 

Besides all of this, the writing is wonderful and the characters are realistic. Dialogue is smooth and easy to follow and the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. 


Some Bio Information

Fiction writing is Peter Pollak’s fourth career.  He has been a journalist, an educator, and an entrepreneur.  He earned a Ph.D. from the University at Albany in history and education.  

He self-published his first novel, The Expendable Man, a political thriller, in 2011. His second novel, Making the Grade, a police procedural, came out the following year.  Last Stop on Desolation Ridge, a suspense that takes place in the Adirondacks was his third novel (2013). In the Game, another police procedural, appeared in the same year.

He blogs on writing topics and books and is active on Facebook and Twitter.  His website petergpollak.com is where you can find information about his books and subscribe to his blog and/or e-newsletter.

Peter splits his time between Maryland and upstate New York. He is married, has two children and four grandchildren.


Q&A

1. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? 

I’ve wanted to write since I read Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel when still a teenager. My early attempts were tentative and juvenile. I took a creative writing class in college, but didn’t get a lot out of it. Working as a journalist helped me gain confidence in my writing ability. Then, when I retired, I decided to try to finish one of the novels I’d started while still working. People liked it and so I kept going.

2. Can you describe your writing process? 

All of my stories start from the germ of an idea. I play around with that concept by writing the initial scene or two. Then, if I can see where the story might lead, I’ll begin to work on it, building a structure as I go that includes a synopsis, an outline, character descriptions, and spreadsheets for character and place names and other key details.

3. Tell us a little bit about why you wrote this book. 

House Divided came to me as a result of reading about disturbing events on college campuses in the U.S. and abroad. By disturbing I mean people were taking actions beyond debate and discussion, including attacking other students for who they are and what they believe. My story takes off on that foundation to show where such behavior might lead.

4. Who is your favorite author? 

I read very widely and therefore my contemporary favorites include George R.R. Martin, Daniel Silva, Michael Chabon, Geraldine Brooks, Neal Stephenson, Alice Hoffman and many others. Historical favorites include the Russian greats––Dostoeyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov, Americans––Jack London and Upton Sinclair; also, Proust, Joseph Conrad, Joyce, Thomas Mann…too many to name. 

5. What character do you identify with the most?

Because my name is Peter, let’s start with Peter Pan. Next comes Eugene Gant, Thomas Wolfe’s protagonist in Look Homeward, Angel and of course, Holden Caufield. Later many protagonists—Richard Cypher in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series; Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon; and Case in Gibson’s Neuromancer.

6. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

My true ultimate goal is to write books that people enjoy reading. I will keep trying to make each book better than the last one in hopes that each finds more readers. 

7. Where is your favorite place? 

I visited Italy for the first time last fall and loved it—especially Florence, which to me is one of the most exciting cities I’ve ever visited. I’m scheduled to go out to Tucson in a few weeks. I love it out there. The desert is eye candy for my Eastern USA eyes. My favorite place, however, is the Adirondacks in upstate New York. It’s not the most beautiful or welcoming or interesting, but it offers the kind of peace I’ve never known any place else.