Interview with R. Lawson, author of 'The CIA International Thriller Series'

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.

His latest books are Existential Threats and The Carrington Prophecy, Book 4 & 5 in The CIA International Thriller series.

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About the Books:

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.

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  • 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.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

When I am out walking my dogs every morning, I formulate the stories in my mind. I think about the plots, subplots, action scenes, and so on. The thoughts just come to me and seem to fall together, nothing magic, just an active imagination I suppose? I don't outline, I just start writing, seeing where it takes me. Doing this, I am able to punch out a rough draft in a short timeframe. I do a lot of research on the subjects as I go along, and through that research, I get other ideas to make the story better or add authenticity. Then I do multiple revisions until I feel the story flows, is exciting and is plausible.

My interests focus on contemporary topics presenting threats, most existential. My protagonist, Biff Roberts, is a CIA operative who partners with various allies to battle global adversities, challenges and villains. 

I try to incorporate recent news, technology and science to educate the reader on how things work in the spy and military world.  For example, Cabo Caper deals with bioterrorism. Killing Time explores cyber-warfare and Retribution delves into targeted assassinations. Existential Threats addresses the spread of radical Islamic jihadists including the homegrown variety and finally, The Carrington Prophecy is about a North Korean plot to launch a "Pearl Harbor" EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on the United States

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

My method and process may not be ideal, but I find it works for me and is not that difficult. As it has been said “Perfect is the enemy of good,” so don't expect perfection especially in early drafts, or ever, as a matter of fact. Just continue to revise the manuscript until the story reads well, has a good pace and maintains the reader's interest.

Write for pleasure. It should not be a chore. And if you are not in a productive mood, do something else, like walk the dogs again. Basically, strive to take the readers to places they've never been in the company of convincing protagonists who ideally they will come to identify and/or root for. In my opinion, it is not necessary to kill twenty bad guys in the first five chapters to make a novel a thriller. Instead, my goal is to build tension and suspense and throw in a few surprises. I love it when my friends ask, "How'd you come up with that?'

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published with the help of Amazon's White Glove program. Self-publishing eliminated years of jumping through the agent/editor hoops as a new author. Let the marketplace decide if your novel has merits and sells.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Except for my personal learning curve as to getting the book set up and published, the ease and efficiency of Amazon's White Glove program made it a very smooth process.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I plan to publish two novels in 2016. I'm five chapters into Zachor, a thriller that takes place in Israel and Palestine. And, I am almost finished with Recall, a fictional historical narrative of Vietnam and the aftermath in San Francisco.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I do not do a lot of hanging out online. Most likely, I can be found on Google and Bing researching subjects, checking authenticity and looking for ideas to expand the scope of my story. It is surprising how much you can learn from a simple online search. I may have to give up my library card, it's so easy to retrieve information with a few clicks!

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

I like to read to wind down. I just started reading Hayden's Playing To The Edge. I also just finished Solutions by Dr. Malik. Also I watch the news or ballgame, and of course, walk the dogs before bedtime.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I write to entertain, but also hope that my readers come away having learned something from my novels.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Write for pleasure, because fame and fortune are elusive. But, there's always the hope that someone influential will discover your voice, like your style and stories and you'll achieve bestseller status. In this digital age, your eBook could go viral. Why not go for it?

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