Monday, March 7, 2016

Guest Post: Ten Things You Might Not Know About The CIA International Thriller Series by R.Lawson

Title: Existential Threats (Book 4 of The CIA International Thriller Series)
Author: R. Lawson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 345
Genre:  Thriller/Espionage

The CIA's incoming Director of Counter Terrorism, Biff Roberts, is inheriting a multitude of challenges. For starters, there is the existential threat of a nuclear Iran. Added to that, the Middle East has become enmeshed in a surge of radical religious extremism ranging from fanatical Muslims of the Islamic State to the Taliban, groups who commit unspeakable atrocities using violence to pursue their atavistic goals. Syria’s civil war could result in Assad's weapons of mass destruction getting into the hands of the splintered groups of Islamic Jihadists fighting there. This radical ideology has now spilled over into Africa with furious intensity.

And as if these international problems were not enough imminent threats to confront, Iranian mullahs have issued an Islamic death warrant fatwa on Biff, and those hoping to see it through are chasing him to the ends of the Earth.

Things move closer to home when CIA intelligence discovers that Iran has dispatched Mahmoud Abu Javari, the notorious IED bomb maker to the U.S.  Biff now faces a Homeland threat of 9/11 proportions and has to thwart a bomb plot in San Francisco without knowing the target or timing for the planned act of terror.

For More Information

  • Existential Threats is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Title: The Carrington Prophecy (Book 5 of The CIA International Thriller Series) Author: R. Lawson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 298
Genre:  Thriller/Espionage

Biff Roberts, the CIA's counterterrorism director, receives actionable intelligence that a rogue regime is planning a sneak attack with the goal of exploding a nuclear device above the United States, triggering an unnatural Carrington Event.

The cosmic storm of the Carrington Event’s electromagnetic pulse waves released by the explosion would cripple all electronic systems and power grids in the U.S., leaving the homeland defenseless and vulnerable to conventional warfare.

With North Korea looking to be the most likely suspect, Biff is tasked to intervene and prevent this attack without triggering a global world war. Collaborating with NIS, the South Korean Intelligence Service, Biff and his team work to thwart the impending disaster, while also leaving the CIA with plausible deniability.

For More Information

  • The Carrington Prophecy is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About 
The CIA International Thriller Series by R.Lawson

1 I tag my novels as "Intelligent thrillers" to play off of a couple of meanings. One refers to "Intelligence" agencies and the other to "requiring thought." My objective is to not only to provide entertainment for readers, but to also have them come away with the new knowledge of how something works. For example, in Killing Time, my second novel, I wrote about how a Stuxnet virus was able to cripple the command and control systems of Iran's nuclear program, setting back its nuclear ambitions for years. And, in this case, the title Killing Time is a double entendre as well. Iran is stalling IAEA inspectors while Mossad and the CIA are assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists and launching digital malware missiles at their computers.

2 - My novels deal with multiple threats faced by my protagonist, Biff Roberts, a CIA field officer and Special Activity Division (SAD) Operative. His outstanding achievements in counterterrorism eventually lead him to his role as Director of the CIA's counterterrorism (CT) division. His success also led Iranian mullahs to issue a fatwa, or death warrant, against him, a recurring theme in the series.

3 - I try to take the reader to places they have never been with Biff and his CT team as they face a gamut of challenges from bioterrorism to radical Islamic jihadists. In addition, Biff is always under the threat of the fatwa (death warrant) hanging over his head. He is Iran's poster boy for retribution, dramatized in Retribution, the third novel in the series. I hope my readers identify with his conflicts and root for him to overcome the obstacles he faces. He's a bigger than life protagonist who manages to pull out some remarkable feats, amazing his colleagues and frustrating the enemies.

4 - I introduce the reader to the inner-working of allied intel agencies such as MI6 (U.K.), Mossad (Israel), and DGSE (France). In my fourth novel, Existential Threats, Biff collaborates with all three of these agencies against radical Islamist plots on three continents, ending up facing a homegrown jihadist bomb threat in San Francisco. You'll learn about drones, Tomahawk missiles, and IED's (improvised explosive devices) in this novel. And you will learn some interesting facts such as, MI6 has no "license to kill" while the other intel agencies do.

5 - There are many talented authors writing action thrillers. But I feel that some go over the top in that you don't have to kill twenty-six bad guys in the first chapters to excite the reader. Three important elements I try to use to increase tension are surprise, suspense, and conflict. Once established, I try to build on those. How well that is accomplished depends on talent and experience. I believe there is progression in my skills over the course of the series and it is something I work on every day to improve. A good story will stand on its own if well told. Admittedly I'm new to the field and working hard to get better as a writer, but my stories are timely, meshing with contemporary events and introducing technology and science into the stories. Hopefully my readership will increase.

6 - My Voice: The third person omniscient voice allows me to maneuver through the plots and subplots. I know where the story is going, my characters don't. I can plant seeds, foreshadow events, weave intricacy into the story, possibly trick the reader with a twist and turn. Plus, this voice allows me to delve into science and technology in narrative summaries and jump sets. 

7 - Dialogue helps my characters drive the story and limit exposition to correlating narrative summaries to move the story along without interfering with pace. It's a delicate balance to achieve, showing, not telling, making it seem natural. This is something I continue to work on and try to improve daily and with each edit.

 8 - The Hook: I always try to bring the reader into the story with a dramatic opening. I'm working on my seventh novel, Zachor, and I plan to open that story with a scene in an upscale Jerusalem restaurant at lunch time:


"I hate it when my day starts like this."

"What do you mean?"

"See those two Palestinian boys at the far table across the terrace?"

"One wearing red and white shemagh talking to kid on iPhone?"

"Yes, them."

"So what about them?"

See that knapsack under the table?"

"I do... starting to get your drift."

"He's programming the IED in the knapsack to detonate remotely shortly after they leave the restaurant."

"Absolutely sure of that?"

"Trust me. I live here. This shit happens."

--- --- ---

But, you don't and won’t know who is talking or what is going to happen until the end of the short first chapter. That revelation, plus an elaboration on the background presented in the narrative summary of the next chapter, fills the reader in on the characters involved in the restaurant confrontation. The second chapter takes place in Tel Aviv four hours earlier that morning before the first chapter's opening scene, setting up the unexpected encounter.

My goal is for the scene and dialogue to build tension and suspense leading to a surprise event, ideally holding the readers’ interest, keeping them turning the pages.

9 -  Research: It takes time to get it right, but it lends authenticity. For instance, Biff's team will not just be drinking beer in an Algiers bar, but they will be drinking the local Tango beer in "The Place" in Algiers’ storied Hotel Le Chalet Normand. Tango coincidentally in military jargon, means target and appropriately enough, the CT team in this scene is on their way to Mali chasing tangoes in my fourth novel, Existential Threats.

10 -  I try not to be a one trick pony in choosing my topics and I try to write about topical items and current events. For instance, in my fifth novel, The Carrington Prophecy, published late last year, the CIA receives actionable intelligence that a rogue regime is planning a sneak attack with the goal of exploding a nuclear device above the United States triggering an unnatural Carrington Event. This EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) would cripple all electronic systems and power grids, leaving the homeland defenseless. EMP as a weapon is a topic that has come up recently in the presidential debates. 

R. Lawson is a retired vascular surgeon and served as a captain in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon. With over 120 academic works under his belt, he moved into the fiction genre and began writing thrillers with a focus on terrorism, cyber spying, national security and more.

He hopes that you enjoy his CIA International Intrigue series featuring Biff Roberts, veteran CIA agent, as he travels the globe thwarting threats to the United States and its allies.

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