When you write a book you give a lot of interviews, and sometimes you say a few things that make sense:
Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author Mark Spivak about The American Crusade, a political thriller.
“Spivak is a master writer in the political-thriller genre who knows how to keep readers entertained.”
“This book is so well written that even though you generally know where this is all going, you want to know what these characters are going to do next. It quickly becomes a real page turner that I finished in record time. Very highly recommended as a political thriller with a lot of action and a lot of fascinating people.”
“What the novel 1984 did to the post WWII generation, The American Crusade might do to the post 9/11 generation.”
A very warm welcome to Mark Spivak; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!
What was the inspiration for The American Crusade?
“I was doing some reading about the Crusades (don’t ask me why), and I suddenly realized that the invasion of Iraq was the instant replay of the Fourth Crusade—down to some very fine and eerie details. I mused on that idea and it germinated into The Final Crusade.”
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
“That’s a great question, because some American readers have reacted to the book solely based on their political beliefs. For example, someone just posted a negative review on Amazon and said that I hate Republicans. I’m actually an Independent and vote either way according to my opinion of the candidates, but the book does seem to present an unflattering view of the Bush administration. In fact, it’s a meditation on the follies of history.
Politics aside, I think the book reflects my sense of humor, which is dry and can sometimes be sarcastic. And of course I’m a political junkie, or I wouldn’t have written it.”
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The American Crusade – why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
“The publisher chose it, fortunately, and I think it’s a great cover: it expresses the essence of the book, and it gives off a sense of drama and impending excitement. I honestly don’t know who designed it, but I assume it was a collaborative effort among the editors.Everyone always says that history repeats itself, but the reality is that we are the ones who are repeating it. The question, of course, is why? By juxtaposing two real events that occurred 700 years apart, we get the chance to explore why people make the mistake and decisions they do. At least, that’s my view of it—what readers are telling me is that they couldn’t put the book down, which is gratifying to hear.”
Why should we read The American Crusade and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
“Everyone always says that history repeats itself, but the reality is that we are the ones who are repeating it. The question, of course, is why? By juxtaposing two real events that occurred 700 years apart, we get the chance to explore why people make the mistake and decisions they do. At least, that’s my view of it—what readers are telling me is that they couldn’t put the book down, which is gratifying to hear.”
Can you tell us something quirky about The American Crusade, its story and characters?
“Much of the book is told through the eyes of Robert Barton Hornsby, the vice president and former CIA director. He’s a man with an agenda, he takes the long view to implement it, and he’s ruthless about getting what he wants. Eventually events begin to turn on him, which is really interesting, because he morphs from puppet master into puppet. While he’ll definitely remind you of a recent historical figure, he’s actually a very common type of power broker found in Washington, D.C. (and elsewhere).”
Who would you recommend The American Crusade to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
“It would appeal to anyone interest in politics, current events or history, although the reality is that the decisions made by our political leaders affect all of us. The only warning, as mentioned, is not to let your personal political philosophy get in the way.”
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
“My two novels have been thrillers, and that’s the genre that interest me the most because I think it presents the greatest opportunities for suspense and reader engagement. My first novel, Friend of the Devil, was a culinary thriller: it told the story of America’s most celebrated chef, who had cut a deal with Satan for fame and fortune. The American Crusade is obviously very different. Personally, I’m a bit more eclectic: I have a degree in literature, so I was forced to read widely.”
What is your writing process?
“I’m up very early, around 4-4:30 a.m., and that’s when I get most of my constructive work done. I still do a great deal of journalism, so the emails and phone calls start around 9 or 10. I write intermittently throughout the day.”
What is in store next?
“I’m currently finishing up the sequel to The American Crusade, tentatively titled Impeachment. I won’t give out any spoilers, but the plot revolves around two wealthy industrialists, billionaire brothers who delight in manipulating the system to their own ends.”
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better… do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
“We said goodbye to our Shi Tzu a few years ago at the age of 17, and we haven’t gotten another dog to replace him. I’m sure there’s another dog in our future, though.”