We’re back! Did you miss us? You missed us. 😉 We’re so pleased to be back again at The Novel Approach Reviews, and today we’ve brought along DSP Publications author Christian Beck who’s come to chat with us about his debut Mystery/Suspense novel The Last Enemy.
So before we put Christian’s feet to the fire, let’s have a look and see what we’re in for:
The Last Enemy
Highly decorated Delta Force operator and Iraq war hero Simon Monk loses everything when his romantic partner defects to Beijing after being caught selling US secrets to Chinese Intelligence. Monk is drummed out of the Army from the blowback but gets a second chance at a career when he is recruited into a covert group within the CIA.
Years later Monk’s latest assignment sends him to Cairo, where the head of station has disappeared amid a highly publicized sex scandal. But things are not what they seem. When the base chief turns up dead and the Egyptian government looks the other way, Monk and his team hunt down the assassin.
All roads lead to a ruthless and lethal cult from Egypt’s ancient past who discard every unwritten rule of espionage to win. Monk is forced to take to the shadows to find and destroy his most dangerous adversaries yet, as a chain of events threatens to ignite war in the Middle East.
Carole: Oooh, sounds like what you’d get if Ian Fleming and Tom Clancy had a rainbow baby. So for those who aren’t familiar, why don’t you start by telling us about your genre.
Christian: I’ve written a thriller– a novel that uses suspense, excitement, apprehension and exhilaration to drive the narrative of a story, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace. It’s that very definition of why I love that genre so much. I want a book that grabs me by the throat and holds firm, choosing how much I get to breathe until it decides to let me go. I wrote The Last Enemy with that type of pace in mind. I wanted it to be like going to a movie, but in words.
Carole: And yet it sounds like The Last Enemy gets more involved with the characters than those movies generally do.
Christian: The Last Enemy at its core book is about Simon Monk, a deeply broken man who has been betrayed by everyone; his job, his lover, everything and it ruined him. He gets a second chance professionally. The novel explores how he starts to heal that emotional injury. I wrap that in an action-packed tale of espionage and political intrigue that reflects the world today. To operate in that world, Monk has to mirror that, so he’s quite brutal and violent.
Carole: And who doesn’t love a badass protagonist with a hidden depth? 😉 Okay, so we follow Simon to entirely different countries and cultures in this novel. Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Christian: Well for me, diversity is inclusion. It’s difference. I think when you’re a creator you look at the world around you, and what you create should reflect that. I think it adds dimensions to the work. In the world that exists today “different” is everywhere—you don’t have to look far to see it so I think diversity reflecting in creative works is more important than ever. Myself, I was adopted into a very culturally diverse family. But, I also think diversity needs to be a natural thing in the story you’re creating. The Last Enemy is a spy novel, so to reflect that world today the characters had to be a racially diverse cast. I love culture, which I got to explore through the different nationalities of the supporting characters in the book and the story’s setting, or course. I’d love to broaden that in future Monk novels.
Carole: The Last Enemy is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in The Last Enemy and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Christian: The Last Enemy isn’t a romance, but the relationship between Simon Monk and Ben Namajunas is central to the book. The novel in based in realism that is at times unflinching, so as soldiers and spies it’s impossible to maintain healthy relationships. While that is secondary to the main plot, their struggle for love in the face of professions that don’t leave much hope for a happily ever after, is a relevant one to their characters.
That said, The Last Enemy is adventure fiction. Any of the Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series—The Templar Legacy is one of my favorites—I would categorize as similar fare. My novel’s primary focus is on story is exactly why DSPP is such the proper fit for it.
Carole: It all sounds so intense and dangerous. Let’s lighten things up a bit. Tell us what you do for fun.
Christian: Living in the desert now, I hike and have taken back up running. It certainly helps clear my mind after I’ve been staring at an LCD screen for hours at a time.
Carole: And now that you’ve been through the publication process, how do you think your experiences will affect your writing from here on?
Christian: The Last Enemy is my first book. With it behind me, I’m already working on the next Monk novel, so certainly the mistakes I made the first time around I’ve learned from regarding my writing style. The paranormal I’m re-working concurrently also benefits from that.
Carole: What goes into naming characters for you? Do the names have significance?
Christian: Character names have always come easy for me. I don’t really use any sort of naming conventions like some of my author friends. Their methodology smacks of pure creative brilliance. I’m a bit of a Cro-Magnon man in that respect. I simply go by the sound and feel of it. For my main characters it’s always three syllables. Two for the first, one for the last, or vice versa depending on how it sounds.
Carole: You mentioned a paranormal WIP, so you obviously write in different genres. How difficult is it for you to switch gears like that?
Christian: I think what I find difficult is that before you write a paranormal you have to decide if you’re going to just go with the tropes—the equivalent in mind being a TV show like Angel that seldom explained anything beyond the surface—or go beyond trope, adding layers upon layers of information so you create a thing like Penny Dreadful. I loved Angel, in part because of its pace. While both are great, they’re decidedly different types of books to write. I went with the tropes and found after getting feedback from my beta readers that while it was a solid book, to give the story its proper due, I needed to go well beyond trope. Again, I’m a thriller writer at my roots, so it’ll be a paranormal/thriller/action-fiction hybrid.
Carole: And because it’s always a reader FAQ: What other projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
Christian: I am working on the next Monk novel tentatively titled, The Red Wall. The Pale Witch, my paranormal thriller, will be done before that.
Carole: And we’ll all be looking forward to it. Congratulations, Christian, on the release of your debut novel, and thanks so much for being here with us today.
And thank you, Awesome Readers, for coming along for the ride. Buy links for The Last Enemy are below, but first, please enjoy this excerpt:
A black-clad assassin machine-gunned the front door’s hinges and kicked it open. He fired a short burst from his Uzi at Monk, who returned fire. His slug caught the man under the chin and exploded out the back of his head. He dropped hard. Monk jackknifed to his feet and bolted toward the kitchen, already anticipating the next point of attack. He knew immediately he wouldn’t cross the distance across the large house in time.
Mary seemed to read his thoughts as she wordlessly stretched her right hand toward him. Monk tossed her his pistol, which she caught deftly. She swiveled to meet the next assassin as he crashed through the kitchen door, a nine millimeter leading his way. Both fired at the same moment. Mary expelled a brief cry as pain clawed at the right side of her ribcage. As she fell, Mary saw her own round take the man in the chest. The slug knocked the man backward into the third gunman, following on the second’s heels. The only reaction there was time for was to defend. Monk chopped at the third assailant’s arm, knocking away his .45 caliber. It discharged a round when it hit the floor. The men collided, pummeling each other in the confined space. Each was a shadow matching the other’s moves in a brutal exchange of blows that used all the techniques available to an elite operative. The assassin’s reactions slowed more than Monk’s, no longer a match for him. Monk hammered the heel of his palm up under the man’s chin and viciously back-fisted him. He finished him with a roundhouse kick to the head that put him to the floor.
Monk crossed to the pistol, grabbed it, and shot the man in the head.
“Christ, you’re hit.” Monk noticed Mary’s bloodied T-shirt as he helped her to her feet. She followed his eyes to her side and stomach, which were soaked crimson. Mary fought down her panic as Monk pulled up her T-shirt, assessing the damage.
“It’s all right, the bullet just grazed you,” said Monk, the situation forcing him to survey her wound dispassionately. “Keep pressure on it here. You’ll be okay. Where’s your cell?”
“It’s on the counter.” She spoke through clenched teeth.
Monk snapped up the mobile from the granite countertop and put it in her hand. “Call 911 and get an ambulance.”
Mary attempted to stand up by herself, finding it intensely painful to straighten, and felt herself start to waver. Monk caught her before she fell.
“Oh God! Pete and the kids.” Mary’s gaze was locked on him, full of desperate anguish.
“They’re in a public place. They should be safe.” Monk hoped his voice carried more conviction than his face betrayed. “Try Pete—tell him to stay at the theater. I’ll send someone to get them. Now I have to secure the premises.”
Monk kissed her on the forehead, then rose and went over to the first assassin. Monk took the Uzi from his hands, and a spare magazine, then gave chase.
Author Bio: Christian Beck saw Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia when he was a wee boy on a giant white drive-in screen in Super Panavision 70 amid the dusty Iowan cornfields, shaping his idea of what storytelling was. It stuck. Seldom does he write anything less than sweeping, epic adventures that pit his characters against some instrument or agent of death, pushing them beyond their every limit to survive. Simply put: Cinema put in words. He does that on a Surface Pro tablet sitting somewhere in the desert with his family – far, far away from those cornfields of the American Heartland.
That’s it for us this edition. Join us next time on Genre Talk when our very own copilot and partner in crime Elizabeth Noble stops in to talk about her new Mystery/Suspense/Paranormal novel Code Name Jack Rabbit, Book One of The Vampire Guard series, and available now!