May 6, 2014

The Argentine Triangle: an interview with Allan Topol (plus a book giveaway)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allan Topol is the author of ten novels of international intrigue. Two of them, SPY DANCE and ENEMY MY ENEMY, were national best sellers. His novels have been translated into Japanese, Portuguese and Hebrew. One was optioned and three are in development for movies. His new novel, THE ARGENTINE TRIANGLE, is the next in the Craig Page series, following the successful THE RUSSIAN ENDGAME, SPANISH REVENGE and CHINA GAMBIT.

In addition to his fiction writing, Allan Topol co-authored a two-volume legal treatise entitled SUPERFUND LAW AND PROCEDURE. He is a partner in a major Washington law firm, and an avid wine collector, he has traveled extensively, researching dramatic locations for his novels. He wrote a weekly column for Military.com and has published articles in numerous periodicals including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Yale Law Journal. He is currently a blogger for Huffington Post.     For more information, visit www.allantopol.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Hard on the heels of The Russian Endgame comes author Allan Topol’s next great thriller. Rife with the exotic backdrops and hairpin plot turns that put Topol on the best-seller list, THE ARGENTINE TRIANGLE is a heart-stopping foray into human vice coupled with power accelerating towards catastrophe.

After a fall from grace and drastic cosmetic surgery in Switzerland, former CIA director Craig Page is enjoying a new, exhilarating life racing cars across Europe. But when new dangers threaten America and an old friend goes missing during a covert mission in Argentina, will Craig be ready to step up to the plate?

Undercover in the glamorous world of Buenos Aires’ wealthy elite, Page finds himself on the brink of a terrible discovery. General Estrada and Colonel Schiller have plans for Argentina, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. A world of brutality hidden in the classified secrets of Argentina’s Dirty War comes to light, painting an image of the cataclysmic future awaiting Estrada’s South America. To expose Estrada and put an end to his plot, Page is forced to implement every instinct, skill, and tool in his arsenal. But when it comes time to close in for the kill, Page meets with unexpected complications—love, lust, and a lethal game of cat and mouse.

In a world fraught with global conspiracy, Craig Page is king.

AND NOW THE INTERVIEW:

You're an attorney, so how did you get into fiction writing?

I always wanted to write fiction from the time I was in college at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon).  That school did not have a creative writing class so I persuaded an English professor who had taught creative writing elsewhere to give me a private tutorial.  I was also interested in history and geopolitical affairs.  Once I finished law school and began working as a lawyer, I also wrote nonfiction articles on world events.  Some of them appeared in periodicals, like the NY Times and Washington Post.  However, I realized that fiction could be a better vehicle for getting across an idea while engaging the reader in a story.  So I began writing fiction in 1978.  The first of my 10 novels, The Fourth of July War, was published that year.  It is a novel that deals with the U.S. energy crisis as a background issue.

How did you pick the thriller genre?

It is a very effective vehicle for dealing with a geopolitical issue while telling an exciting story.  I also think it permits me to live a secret, exciting life taking on challenges, solving problems, and dealing with major issues affecting the United States.  Often, I feel as if I am living vicariously through one of my heroes.  I have not been in the CIA, but I know many people in the intelligence community.  Writing thrillers is my way of becoming a part of their world.

Your latest novel takes us to Argentina – how did you choose that location?

I traveled to Argentina once for vacation and was so excited and inspired by this exotic country and its history, that I visited several more times to do research for a novel.  At the same time, I did research on its history and on the internet.  The diversity of the people and their political struggles became the basis for  my new novel, The Argentine Triangle.  The country has an amazing history.  A hundred years ago, it was the fourth largest economy in the world.  Now it is only third in Latin America.   I became intrigued by what has happened to this country and its wonderful people who have so much potential.  I also became interested in the Dirty War and wanted to include that in my novel.

The Argentine Triangle is now a fourth in a series – tell us a bit about your lead character Craig Page.

Craig Page was formerly in the CIA.  He is courageous and patriotic, but refused to accept the layers of bureaucracy in the agency.  He refused to take orders from people who fail to appreciate true dangers facing the United Sates.  He managed to prevent a terrorist attack in Madison Square Garden, but was reprimanded for not following orders so he resigned from the agency.

Is he based on anyone you know in your real life?

On one level, the answer is no.  On another, all of my characters are composites to some extent of people I have known in real life.

Can a reader pick-up The Argentine Triangle having not read your former books?

The answer to this question is definitely yes.  I have worked hard to make The Argentine Triangle a standalone novel as are all of my others.  This is particularly true in the case of The Argentine Triangle because Craig Page is in a different place and different situations than in any of my prior novels.

Why novels with international roots? Most recently THE RUSSIAN ENDGAME, CHINA GAMBIT and SPANISH REVENGE?

I have always been interested in international affairs, history, politics, and geopolitical issues.  The novel form lets me write about these in the context of a fast moving page turner which will keep the reader up at night.

How do you research a country to prepare to write about it – especially Argentina?

Travel to the place several times.  Read history books and current event books about it.  Search for further information on the internet and talk to people within the country as well as those who once lived there.

Are some locations more challenging to writer about than others, If so why?

Russia and China are the most difficult to write about because the governments do not permit free movement and free exchange of ideas.  As a result, it is much more of a challenge to gather background information for use in the novel

What is your writing process like, where and when do you typically do your writing?

I write longhand with a pen and a pad and I literally write anywhere.  On airplanes, in coffee shops, and in restaurants.  My preferred time and place is a study in my house.  Early morning.

When you’re not writing – what do you like to read?

I like to read histories and biographies of important individuals in the world. Also books about current affairs.  These provide me with material for my novels.  Likewise, I am a veracious reader of The Washington Post, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and The Economist.  Those are all great sources of information.

What’s next after The Argentine Triangle?

My next novel after The Argentine Triangle will be The Washington Lawyer.  It is scheduled for publication in March 2015. 

Please tell us anything else you’d like to share with potential readers.

My goal is to have the reader learn something and be informed as well as turning pages, caught up in the plot.  I want my novels to be wake up calls for my readers about important geopolitical issues in the world.

AND NOW THE GIVEAWAY:

If you'd like to get your hands on a copy of The Argentine Triangle, just leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you. Keep in mind, this giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. only and will end on May 12th, after which time I will draw a name at random and announce the winner. Good luck!

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