Thursday, April 5, 2012

Interview With Military Thriller Author Alexandra Hamlet

Alexandra Hamlet, who is a client of mine at Media Connect, wrote a stirring debut novel that dramatizes how a secretive takeover of the US government could happen from within.

Perfect for spy aficionados and lovers of political, military, and intelligence fiction, the newly released suspense thriller, The Right Guard (Foxboro Press 2012) by first-time novelist Alexandra Hamlet, a defense anthropologist, former defense consultant and an international business and cultural affairs expert. She has consulted for the Pentagon and other agencies of the U.S. government and now takes us on a journey through the world of intelligence and defense in the 1970’s. 

The year is 1978, and someone has stolen over one million military weapons and equipment from U.S. military inventories across the country. Who is stealing these weapons and why? CIA operative Eric Brent is used to flush out a secretive, "phantom group” hostile to a wildly spending, intrusive U.S. Administration that threatens to destroy the American economy and shrink individual freedoms.

While set over three decades ago, The Right Guard delivers gripping, fast-paced realism that mirrors the political and economic climate of the United States today. Hamlet not only presents a scenario that is very conceivable, she also takes her audience deep within the secretive world of intelligence and military espionage.

Here is her interview with BookMarketingBuzzBlog

1.      Alexandra, what is your new book about? It is a political-military intelligence thriller that takes place in the late 70’s.  The premise: there is an organization, well funded and using weapons from the US armories for takeover of the US government from within.  The story takes place in the few days between the discovery by the CIA of a massive plot centered on a group that called itself “the Right Guard” and the potential execution of that takeover.   There are 2 patriotic groups in this novel.  Both think they are protecting the country and the U.S. Constitution.  It is up to the reader to decide which way they would go themselves.

2.      What inspired you to write it? It is based on real events and all of the newspaper articles placed in front of the first 32 chapters and the last chapter is real.  It is also based on my personal experience and yet…it is a novel. Even real events in life need to be helped by a good story in a novel in order to make it flow well and observe the techniques of acceptable writing.  My personal insight into some intense situations allowed me to present the patriotism, talent, and bravery of America’s military and intelligence members.

3.      Could the events in your book really unfold in real life? This book was reviewed by some in the intelligence community and a number of very senior officers at the Pentagon and other military members.  Some of them gave me quotes which I have included on the cover, but only if I used their approximate titles as some may be still active.  I have been told, by senior members of the intelligence community that The Right Guard is more possible today—given the similarities in the social, economic, military, and political climates as well as much more improved command and control and communications abilities.

4.      You have an interesting military background. How much of your book is fictionalized truth?
I was a defense contractor, [defense anthropologist] for 14 years. As I mentioned, this book is based on real events and my personal experience.  As anyone in the operative world will tell you, operational intelligence work is 98% boredom and 2% sheer terror.  As a novelist, I had to make all of the pages compelling, so there is a significant portion that is fiction.  I knew many of the characters I wrote about. Their characterizations are composites so as not to identify any one individual.

5.      What do you love most about being a published author? Getting to see your “baby” finally out after all of the hard work and tears over the story is unexplainable.  There is something so special about seeing your words in print or on bookstore shelves.   It took me a very long time to be able to finish this story, and the eerie similarity between the situations in 1978 and now was an unexpected coincidence—not something I had planned. This book was originally written in 1978—it was worth the wait.

6.      What is the key to making a successful novel? Your reader wants to go on an adventure with you.  You promise them an exciting journey in the first chapter—never let the reader down.  The story also has to be compelling, relevant, knowledgeably written and most of all the characters have to be well described so the reader can identify with the characters as they go through their trials.  I have been told that my personal strength is describing the characters so well that the reader feels they know them.  I want to write a novel that I would like to read if it was written by someone else.

Recently, I got a call from a friend one night. She said her husband was in the bathroom tub with The Right Guard and had been in there for 4 hours and still no sign of coming out. . . .   I consider that a successful novel.

7.      Any advice for a struggling writer? Writing is a passion first. I don’t write because I like it. I write because I am driven to the written word. Don’t give up.  Listen to people who read your work and always ask for honest feedback.  Consider that all criticism is positive if you can take away something that will improve your talents in writing.  Don’t get discouraged by overly harsh comments that may come from people who may have an ax to grind or perhaps are envious of your abilities or creativity.  That has nothing to do with you.  It has to do with their own difficult life situations they projected your way.  Thank them and move on.

8.      Where do you see book publishing heading?  This is the most exciting time for writers new and old. The technology and new publishing vehicles are opening up creative ways for talented people to get into print.  Standard book publishing by the big publishers is still considered the pinnacle of publishing but it was off 40% last year.  Publishing by small presses and even self publishing is now yielding some amazing authors and many of the “established authors” are now considering moving to alternate publishing possibilities. The E-book and audio novels explosion has taught us that people still want to read and get information… but they want it in their preferred style of communication and lifestyle.  This generation is tied heavily into technology in their daily lives. The publisher who can accommodate that will lead the publishing pack.

Technology and the internet have enabled many more people to get their ideas out there, but it remains a matter of talent, persistence and very hard work.  It may be easier to get into print these days, just make sure it is the best possible work you can present.  There is still no substitute for excellence.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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