Author Allan Topol is at it again, this time with his latest release and 13th novel, Washington Power Play (SelectBooks, May 16, 2017). Below, Topol discusses how he chose between writing about China or Russia and what his writing has done for him personally. You don’t want to miss this Q&A with Allan Topol below.
BookTrib: How is Washington Power Play timely in today’s political climate?
Allan Topol: The two critical geopolitical issues at the heart of Washington Power Play are a foreign government’s interference in a U.S. Presidential election and the competition between the U.S. and China for world domination. Both of these issues are at the forefront of the news on a daily basis.
With respect to foreign interference, when I began writing Washington Power Play two years ago, there was no hint in the media that the issue of Russia’s possible meddling in the U.S. presidential election would make headlines.
On the other hand, from my position as a partner in one of the most powerful Washington law firms, it seemed very possible, indeed likely, that a foreign government might seek to influence a U.S. presidential election. After all, recent Supreme Court cases on campaign financing have already shaped our presidential campaigns to enable wealthy American citizens, corporations, and public interest groups supporting both major political parties, to have an enormous influence by funding unlimited advertising. They are doing so in the hope that this will lead to the election of a president with an agenda similar to their own. Starting with this point, it was not much of a leap to substitute a foreign government for a group of American citizens. Indeed, I have had this issue in mind for many years. My 2004 novel, Conspiracy, quite a different novel from Washington Power Play, touches on Japanese interference with a U.S. presidential election.
As I conceived the plot for Washington Power Play, I had to decide which nation: China or Russia should be interfering in the U.S. presidential election. I selected China because that nation is now locked in a competition with the U.S. economically and militarily for world domination. I wanted to deal with this issue and the new world order emerging as we move away from U.S. domination which has been the fact since the end of the Second World War to a situation in which the U.S. and China; must be viewed as equal economic and military global powers. The recent meeting between President Trump and President Xi at Mar-a-Lago underscored this new reality.
From an author’s perspective, I am thrilled that Washington Power Play is so timely in today’s political climate. However, I wish to emphasize that the two issues discussed above are merely background for a suspenseful thriller novel. The action and plot twists will hopefully lead readers to stay up late at night turning pages. And I have tried to create compelling characters particularly FBI agent Kelly Cameron, the protagonist of Washington Power Play, and her relationship with Xiang, now a Chinese spy but formerly her lover. Their relationship is the spine for Washington Power Play.
BT: This is your 13th novel of international intrigue–how do you research your locations? From China to Italy to D.C. to Russia?
AT: The internet is a wonderful source of information about locations in the U.S. and around the world, and I use it extensively. However, there is no substitute for visiting places used in a novel. I have visited all of the places I write about in my thirteen novels except for Baku in Azerbaijan because the first Gulf War was raging in the Middle East and I was fearful of being stranded.
The advantage of being in the novel locales, and this includes Beijing and Paris in Washington Power Play, is that enables me to gain an understanding for the place. When I describe settings including street scenes, hotels, restaurants, and government buildings, being there lets me do it with accuracy. If the reader has been there, it will enable the reader to recall the reader’s visit and feel comfortable in the novel. A number of readers of my novel, the Italian Divide, which was published last year, have told me that visiting the places in the novel, Milan, Torino, Stresa, Ravello, and others was like taking a trip vicariously to Italy.
Much of Washington Power Play takes place in Washington–a city I know very well having lived here for more than 30 years.
BT: What has your writing done for you personally?
AT: It enabled me to travel around the world visiting exotic locales for novels and while there talking with people and gaining an in depth insight and understanding of the places. At the same time, it stimulates me to consider how I can incorporate the place into my plot.
It has also permitted me to develop relationships in the U.S. with people I would not have met but for my writing. Many who are friends and clients are interested in discussing writing and my novels, and it has enhanced those relationships. In fact, many of my law firm clients prefer to talk about my novels rather than their cases.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allan Topol WASHINGTON POWER PLAY is Topol’s 13th novel of international intrigue. Two of them, SPY DANCE and ENEMY MY ENEMY, were national best sellers. His novels have been translated into Japanese, Portuguese and Hebrew. One was optioned and three are in development for movies. More recently, many of his books focused on his Craig Page series, including THE ARGENTINE TRIANGLE, THE RUSSIAN ENDGAME, SPANISH REVENGE, CHINA GAMBIT and ITALIAN DIVIDE.
In addition to his fiction writing, Allan Topol co-authored a two-volume legal treatise entitled SUPERFUND LAW AND PROCEDURE. A graduate of Yale University Law School, he is a partner in a major Washington law firm, and has traveled extensively researching locations for his novels. He wrote a weekly column for Military.com and has published articles in numerous periodicals including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Yale Law Journal. He also has blogged for Huffington Post. For more information, visit www.allantopol.com.