There is no end to big surprises in this espionage thriller. The one at the end, I didn’t see coming. In fact, I didn’t see quite a few of them coming. It’s a story about an attempt to overthrow the United States government from within. The reader will have to remember not only the novel’scharactersbut also their code names. But it’s worth it. So much is not what it seems. So much is clandestine.
Secret Service Agent Dain Ryder is loyal to the president at a precarious time when not all the men sworn to protect POTUS are trustworthy. Dain’s family were missionaries in China where his grandfather was murdered and his father blinded. Thus, he has long lived with bigotry and hatred in his heart toward the Chinese people. So, he’s thrown a curve ball when President Robert Bradley gives him a special assignment to work with a beautiful Chinese spy to find out who is behind the plot to bring down his administration.
Lian Chen is not only gorgeous, she’s a biochemist, a superb classical Chinese dancer, martial arts expert, a crack shot, and proficient with explosives. Dain begins to doubt her loyalty to America and to the president. She could be on the wrong side. She’s hiding something big. As he fights his attraction to her, he fears she may have a secret relationship with Robert Bradley?
This story goes from the Oval Office, to the halls of George Washington University, to the streets of D.C.’s Chinatown and back again. It’s quite a thrilling journey.
ACTION-ADVENTURE, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, TERRORISM, WAR
It’s something I haven’t done yet and something that intrigues me — when two authors collaborate on a work of fiction. In this case, AGAINST THE ODDS was written by two colleagues I’ve know for several years. So, I thought I’d ask them about it.
A little about the novel…
Agent Sam Roberts took nano seconds to figure out how and why the missionary woman got on the yacht. The scum-bucket Russian he was assigned to watch duped her somehow, like that miserable criminal had others. Turning a blind eye to save his job might guarantee her an early visit from the Grim Reaper. Then again, a rescue attempt through middle east terrain might have the same results. His choice is a story ready to keep any reader turning pages long into the night.”
It was the mother of all bad days. — The date, September 11, 2012. The place, Benghazi, Libya. While a brave band of warrior’s fight for their lives in the consulate and CIA annex, outside, a Mossad Agent, a missionary, and a Mississippi giant fight a different battle. Caught between terrorists and an enraged Russian arms dealer, they must complete the mission and manage to stay alive until they can escape or the cavalry arrives. Never assume things can’t get worse.
Nike: What was it like to write with a co-author?
Dave: Co-writing makes you think, or at least it made me think more than if I were writing alone. AGAINST THE ODDS was Virginia’s idea, and she wrote the first two chapters and sent them to me. I had to introduce my character and tie him to hers. I/we never knew where the other was taking the story. Sometimes the next scene jumped into my head and away I went. Sometimes I thought “What!”
VB: When I decide to write a story set in Libya, I asked David if he would like to join the project since he has an extensive background in the Middle East. Thus, the character of Tree was added to the story. Co-authoring was different, but in a good way. Our writing styles are similar so the chapters blended together seamlessly. Dave (The Great White Hunter) Arp was sometimes incommunicado tracking bears across the Alaskan tundra or working in the Gulf on an oil rig and would find chapters and emails from me in his inbox to wade through. All in all, it was a fun experience.
Nike: Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.
David: Tree’s name and physical characteristics came from two men I worked with in Saudi Arabia. Getting a character from Mississippi into Libya isn’t hard if he’s working for a drilling contractor and his mom is Tunisian.
VB: Molly the dog, in the story, is real. Her characteristics as described in the novel are exclusively her own. She doesn’t like anyone but me, but will tolerate a few others. She is a rescue dog my daughter purchased. Molly’s original owner was an older woman so Molly adopted me. I call her my little Rottweiler. My office is in my bedroom and she lives under my bed except when the weather is nice. Anyone who dares venture into her space is greeted by Molly in attack mode. She is the fastest dog I’ve ever seen. When I put her outside, she shoots out the door like she was fired from a gun. I went from a big, lovable, gentle St. Bernard, to an unfriendly, grouchy, hyper, midget with an attitude. What are you going to do when you’re adopted?
Walking Sophie, my gal pal, on this misty Sunday morning in NE Florida is quiet and relaxing. I took a few photos and couldn’t help contrasting this bucolic scene with what was going on in my former hometown, NYC, after last night’s street bombing. Thirty people were injured.
If Sophie and I walk to the right when we leave the house. No place to hide a pressure-cooker bomb with a note and a cell phone.
If Sophie and I walk to the left. At the end of this street there is a rooster crowing.
Instead we chose to walk straight ahead where this tree had a major branch come down a week before Hurricane Hermine. We do get tropical storms with high winds.
My heart and prayers are with New Yorkers and also the people of Seaside, NJ who also had a bombing last night that thankfully failed to go off during the Marine Corps race. I know this is so scary, yet I also know the people of NYC and New Jersey are strong and will fight back against any type of terrorism.
Billionaire Steve Spinner has been manipulating his daughter Jocelyn since her birth. Now he’s endangered her life by forcing her and journalist Kristin Halvorsen to embark on a dangerous mission in Columbia. They are posing as bird watchers, in that South American country, when they stumble upon a brutal massacre in the village of Chozadolor and are captured by a group of guerrilla fighters headed by the ruthless and viscous Diego Contreras. Kristen took photos of the massacre which show most of the men massacred in the village were butchered, but some apparently died due to some sort of chemical agent. Contreras’ men smash Kristen’s cameras, but she manages to hide a memory card with photos at the gruesome site.
No amount of money can entice soldier of fortune Jeb Sledge to rescue the young women. The hyper-responsible soldier of fortune who must right the wrongs in this world was the Old Sledge. He is determine to become the more relaxed New Sledge. This idea of the Old Sledge and the New Sledge confronting each other is a theme running through DEADLY ADDITIVE.
When Spinner dangles the name Diego Contreras as bait, Sledge bites. In the not so distant past Contreras and his men killed Alita, a young Colombian woman from a notable family Sledge had fallen in love with. Her entire family was killed in the attack and Sledge was severely wounded. However, in his gut, Sledge knows Spinner, the master manipulator is keeping something from him.
Sledge is assisted by Roger Brinkman, a retired CIA operative, now running his own private ‘information service’ which doesn’t have the constraints of a US government agency. Brinkman puts Sledge onto the quirky Ramirez family who offer their special services. The entire family speaks in malapropisms which adds a touch of humor in just the right places. Two of my favs are: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffins” and “That I must take with a fifth of amendments.”
Few male writers can write about the internal drama going on inside a woman who has been sexually threatened or abused. Donn Taylor does this extremely well by not intensely highlighting it (as many authors are inclined to do). He simply states it. We, the reader, understand what the character is going through.
The inspirational element is authentic and organic to the story as Jeb and Kristin, having confronted abject evil, try to figure out if anything has a greater meaning. This is an edge of your seat, page turning story.
It seems the world is more dangerous than it’s ever been. ISIS is beheading and burning people. Boko Haram has been busy kidnapping school girls. In fact, the Middle East seems as if it’s about to explode. We are warned of the threat of nuclear expansion to ominous and to unstable countries. Then there’s Ebola, not always in the news, but still destroying lives.
As far as America’s own national security we keep hearing disturbing things. Internal threats and homegrown terrorists. Protests that turn into riots. Porous borders. Our system of banking on the verge of total collapse.
Even in our own city, village, or neighborhood we face drive-by shootings, muggings, and even something as unthinkable as the sex-slave trade going on in the seedy part of town, or the not so seedy part of town.
What should we do? Some are stocking up on food, firearms, and ammunition, as well as subscribing to survivalist magazines. Those with the means, install high tech security systems. Others simply isolate themselves behind barred windows and multi-locked doors. They have become afraid. Fear is dominating their lives.
What is fear? You might say that it’s an emotion. I’d disagree. Fear itself is not a feeling. It is a spiritual force. And even the most intellectual, scientific, psychological- minded people know that on a visceral level. If you were in an airplane with severe engine trouble and someone in the next seat said, “The fear in here is so thick you can almost touch it,” you’d agree. The same would be true if you happened to be in a bank during an armed robbery. The fear would be palpable.
Though fear is a force, it can and does affect our emotions and in many instances can cripple individual lives. Yet many have absolutely no anxiety about the threats of this world. These are believers who have moved past fear and into the Lord’s promise of peace, protection, and blessing
Hebrews 13: 5a-6 [NASB] ~ for He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU; NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” So that we confidently say, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?
When I look at this Scripture I see what the Lord has said, but there’s another part. I see that we are supposed to say something. I’m supposed to say: The Lord helps me and I’m not afraid of what man can do on this earth to me. It plainly tells me to say that. Not only to read it, no just think it, but to say it aloud.
What we say, shapes our feelings, especially what we say about ourselves. If I ever catch myself saying about some event, perhaps on the news, “That’s so scary.” I immediately say to myself out loud, “Quit that fear talk.”
In fact, I talk to the news reports. I even point a finger at the TV and shake it. I really do, and as a recovering news junkie, it makes them less powerful in my life. If there’s a report on the news about anxiety on the increase in the nation as well as an increase in pill popping to cope with it, I say, “Not in my house! Not in my life!” But that wasn’t always so. At one point, a few years ago, I had great anxiety. Things were going hay-wire in my life and I found I could not cope with the destructive actions of some people in my life. But I literally talked myself out of that situation. Words have power, after all. I began saying words of power and faith. Of course the words I choose to say come from the Bible. If God said the words first, there’s more power in them than in something I make up on the spur of the moment.
Another very practical thing to combat fear is to realize is that fear is the anticipation of something bad happening. In actual fact, that feared thing rarely comes to pass in the individual’s life. Another practical tactic to combat fear is to laugh a little. Laughter dispels fear. Doctors tell us deep belly-laughs releases marvelous feeling endorphins. So, go to a comedic movie, or play a tape of an old one on your TV. Do something, anything that will make you laugh which will in turn decrease your anxiety and fear. And that’s the key. Don’t be passive and let fear overtake you. Combat it.