by DS Kane
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She spied for her country, blackmailed her president, and ran from more threats than she can remember. But when the love of her life proposes, covert agent Cassandra Sashakovich is finally ready to settle down. Unfortunately her past is not quite ready to let her walk away.
Old enemies—including a vengeful president—want her dead, and they’re willing to attack her loved ones, including her adopted teenage daughter, if that’s what it takes.
But Cassandra has other pressing problems—a world leader is assassinated and an arm dealer’s revenge threatens to lead to nuclear war. Now Cassandra and her security firm, Swiftshadow must defuse the threats and find a way to outmaneuver those who threaten not only her family, but her country as well.
December 6, 4:33 p.m.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC
The outgoing President sat at the Oval Office desk and frowned, his party devastated by leaks in the news stating that he had funded terrorists in an attempt to win the upcoming election for his party. He had been continuously angry since the press started sniffing around. He tapped a pen against the desk. No one visited a lame duck, especially one who’d become a pariah.
Although the news stories claimed that the leaks came from the West Wing, he was sure that it had been Cassandra Sashakovich who leaked the intel she’d been blackmailing him with. And there was more, loads of proof that could have him sent to prison, or even had him executed for treason.
His mind looped uncontrollably through the events that had led him here. Damn that woman. It couldn’t have been worse. He reached for the tumbler on his desk and took a swallow of Scotch.
It wasn’t too late to solve the problem by having her captured and terminated. But, there were still things he wanted to do to her. Not just kill her. Something more creative and painful. Maybe have her sent to one of the secret rendition camps he’d had the agency establish in Tajikistan.
He might end up in prison for treason, but at least he’d have the satisfaction of vengeance.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing DS Kane, author of the Baksheesh (Bribes), Book 7 of the Spies Lie series.
Hi Mr. Kane, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
DS Kane is the name I have chosen to write under. For over a decade, I worked as a covert field operative with a group in the United States government. Some of my work was rote, but some was dangerous. I learned basic tradecraft and used it to spy on America’s enemies. But, like many others, when I learned something I should not know, I often left that from my reports, fearing what my handlers might do if they found out what I’d discovered. It’s true that spies lie. Take, for example, the motto of the Mossad: “Through deception, we wage war.”
What were you like at school?
I’ve earned two masters degrees, one in psychology and one from the Stern Graduate School of Business at NYU. I’m dyslexic and had to work harder than any other student I’ve ever met. But my GPA at NYU was high enough that for nearly a decade I was faculty at NYU’s Stern Graduate Business School. I’ve had papers published in textbooks and articles published in financial trade journals. And, I’ve taught at financial workshops and conferences. I guess I’m smart. And, arrogant. It just comes with the territory.
Were you good at English?
Good enough. Not exceptional. But, like most dyslexics, whatever I learned I’ve never forgotten. And, I use every tool in the book to achieve success. I’ve often said, “English is my second language. I just don’t have a first.”
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
The first five books in my Spies Lie series have all been Amazon bestsellers. The sixth, ProxyWar, will be released in a few weeks. The original scope of the series was these six. My future ambition is that the nasty, backbiting politicians of the world and the intelligence services that support their whims will continue to give me news stories I can use as the baseline for future books. So far, they haven’t disappointed.
Which writers inspire you?
One of my mentors was family friend and bestselling thriller author Barry Eisler, who is former CIA. I read everything he writes. I’ve read all of the Daniel Silva thriller novels. I’ve corresponded with James Rollins long ago and love his Sigma series of thrillers. I’ve met Steve Berry a few times and read his thrillers. And, although I find his political views a bit too far right, I enjoy Brad Thor’s thrillers. Each of these writers has helped teach me craft.
Give us an insight into Ann Silbey. What does she do that is special?
In Baksheesh (Bribes), as in many of my other Spies Lie books, one of five characters takes center stage and each of the others acts as support in a team setting. Baksheesh (Bribes) is Ann Silbey’s story. She is the adopted daughter of Cassandra Sashakovich. Ann’s birth mother was drug addicted and overdosed, leaving Ann and her brother homeless. When Cassie was on the run from terrorists hunting her, Ann taught Cassie how to survive and remain undetected in plain sight. After being adopted, Ann learns computer hacking and becomes a real master, surpassing her teachers.
What are you working on at the minute?
With ProxyWar now in production, I’ve started work on Book 7, about a war between hackers and their governments. I’ve been watching this war develop since Ed Snowden moved to Russia, and am amazed at how committed white hat hackers are to keeping intelligence services honest, while black hat hackers are proving that our cyber security is woefully inadequate, and that the NSA has failed in its charter to keep the data of American businesses, our government and individuals safe. This book will probably be released in about a year. I’m still researching and outlining it, with a few chapters now in draft form.
Which actors/actresses would you like to see playing the lead characters from Baksheesh (Bribes)?
I’ve been asked this question many times. Although actors and actresses are usually booked eons in advance, this is my dream cast. As for a movie or television series, I’d envision Baksheesh (Bribes) as a television series, with each book running two seasons.
- Yigdal Ben-Levy: F. Murray Abraham
- Jon Sommers: Clive Owen
- Aviva Bushovsky: Lauren Ambrose
- William Wing: Masi Oka
- Betsy “The Butterfly” Brown: Lena Dunham
- Avram Shimmel: Oscar Isaac
- Cassandra Sashakovich: Clare Danes
As for director, producer and screenwriter, Howard Gordon, who wrote and produced 24, Homeland, Tyrant and The Dig, would be my absolute favorite.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I read a non-fiction book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins. John and I performed many of the same duties and it inspired me to begin a memoir. But my government handlers found out and told me it wouldn’t be healthy for me to do that. So, I’m writing fiction instead.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
After I wake and have coffee, I’m in my home office and I read emails and read global news for a while, while my brain comes up to speed. Then, I write all day, with an hour off for lunch while I watch news on television, and after 5 pm, I’m done for the day. I write nearly every day.
Where do your ideas come from?
News stories trigger my ideas for books. Washington stinks like an onion, and in every story, the layers further down stink more. I’m always asking, “Is this story the cover for something far worse in the next layer down?” If the answer is “quite possibly,” then it’s fodder for my fiction.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I work from outlines. I first developed a “series bible,” the series theme, the arcs of my characters across every book, and the technologies or weapons the characters use. I then developed one-page biographies for characters, a few pages on each location I think appropriate for a given plot point, and a book outline containing every scene within.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The schedule. I don’t just write. I also am very active in social media and promotion. I schedule author events when books have just been released. My wife sometimes wonders if I can remember anything she tells me. And, of course, my characters haunt my dreams at night. Like many writers, there are so many inside me, all demanding my attention while I write.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
I try to read one book a month. I read those that have inspired me. I still learn from them.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I have a large screen tablet, and I read ebooks almost exclusively. Some books come only in print, and if they are basic research for me, I’ll buy and read paper. For example, a paper book by Gordon Thomas, Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad, has been on my bookshelf for nearly a decade. But, I understand that some readers prefer the feel of a paper book. All my books are available as print and ebooks, and Bloodridge, Book 1 of the Spies Lie series is also available as an audiobook.
What book are you reading at the present?
I’m reading Devil Colony, a thriller by James Rollins.
Tell us about the covers and how they came about. Who designed your book covers?
All my covers are designed by the fabulous Jeroen Ten Berge, in New Zealand. He does covers for bestselling thriller writer Barry Eisler, and mystery writer J. A. Konrath. Before designing any of my covers, Jeroen and I discussed branding, the type font, and the shooters that appear on all my covers. Use of city architecture, bold colors. Each is a scene from the book it covers.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your books?
I’ve crafted a trailer for the series. It can be found on YouTube:
Right now, it’s the only trailer on my YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClUh9ev0mWWpDMWVeSc1s8Q).
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Yes, book giveaways work. My objective is to have readers that want me to continue writing. Money is a secondary issue at best. My marketer, Rebecca Berus of 2MarketBooks.com does a fabulous job. She has turned the first five of the Spies Lie series into Amazon bestsellers.
How do you relax?
I play blues guitar and sing. No kidding! When I was in college, I earned money playing blues gigs. I also love to cook Chinese food. I’m pretty good at it.
What is your favorite quote?
“Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” — George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946
What is your favorite movie?
The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts (2009). It depicts an investigation into an arms dealing bank. The operatives and their challenges mirror some of my own back in the days when I was operational.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
But, the best way to understand me is to read my Amazon bestselling books. DS Kane’s Spies Lie series:
Bloodridge, Book 1 of the Spies Lie Series – (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K0029J0)
“A globe-trotting spy thriller dense with intriguing insider’s knowledge.” —Kirkus Reviews
DeathByte, Book 2 of the Spies Lie Series – (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L2LLKSC)
“A dizzying spy story for readers with clear minds and steely constitutions.” —Kirkus Reviews
Swiftshadow, Book 3 of the Spies Lie Series – (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJ5KXKG)
“…the high stakes and dizzily paced action will hook genre fans from the first page.” —Kirkus Reviews
GrayNet, Book 4 of the Spies Lies Series – (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P8HRT9U)
“Nonstop action and suspense starring the definition of a strong female lead.” – Kirkus Reviews
Baksheesh, Book 5 of the Spies Lies Series – (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B010NR3RD6)
“More wild, violent adventures in the world of international espionage.” – Kirkus Reviews
and ProxyWar, Book 6 of the Spies Lie series (coming in December, 2015)
Any final words?
While my books are pure fiction and fall under the category, “conspiracy theory”, I think everyone would be best advised to think hard about whether the news you read contains much truth in it. Look for the deeper, darker story underneath the story you have been told. Often, there is more there than you guessed at the start.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
DS Kane worked in the field of covert intelligence for over a decade. During that time, his cover was his real name, and he was on the faculty of NYU’s Stern Graduate School of Business. He traveled globally for clients including government and military agencies, the largest banks, and Fortune 100 corporations, and while in-country, he did side jobs for the government. One of the banks DS Kane investigated housed the banking assets of many of the world’s intelligence agencies and secret police forces, including the CIA and NSA. Much of his work product was pure but believable fiction, lies he told, and truths he concealed. Secrets that–if revealed–might have gotten him killed. When his cover got blown, he fled the field and moved 3,000 miles.
Now, DS Kane is a former spy, still writing fiction. Through his novels, he exposes the way intelligence agencies craft fiction for sale to sway their countries and manipulate their national policy, driving countries into dangerous conflicts.
To learn more about DS Kane and his books, visit www.dskane.com or join him on Facebook for book giveaways and details on espionage at https://www.facebook.com/DSKaneAFormerSpyStillTellingLies.
DS Kane will be awarding ebook versions of the whole Spies Lie series (which includes Bloodridge, DeathByte, Swiftshadow, GrayNet, and Baksheesh) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.