Saturday, April 30, 2022

Interview With Award-Winning Russia Expert & Author Avraham Shama


 Cyberwars: David Knight Goes to Moscow

1.      What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into this book?  I was propelled to write this novel, Cyberwars: David Knights Goes to Moscow, which is based on real events, because I wanted readers to know how President Vladimir Putin decided to invest in cyberweapons in 1999, how he later used these weapons to interfere with the U.S. presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, and how now he is using cyberweapons in his war on Ukraine. I also wanted to assure readers that, with the help of protagonist David Knight, U.S. has developed its own cybertechnology to counter Russia.    

2.      What is it about and who is it for?  The book is about a New York University professor named David Knight who experiences a breakdown after he is fired by his wife and by his employer. David moves to New Mexico to hide and repair his life at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Unexpectedly, he falls in love with a young Latina professor at UNM, and the C.I.A. sends him to Moscow to spy on the Russian economy. In Moscow, he accidentally discovers that Russia is preparing for a cyberwar against the U.S. Upon his return home, he mobilizes the Agency to begin a counter cybersecurity program to defend his country. In the process, he redeems himself and deepens his shallow New Mexico roots. The novel is also a tender love story across the Hispanic and Anglo cultures, as well as about an unexpected transformation of David Knight to a patriot. The book is meant for ordinary people like you and me, interested in what is happening to the security of the U.S. and in what could happen to them in view of the Russian threat. It is also intended for readers who like reading about impossible love, and about self-redemption.  

3.      What takeaways might the reader will be left with after reading it? My hope is that when readers are done reading my novel, they would be left with a sense that Russia’s cyberthreats are real and critically important, and that the U.S. is ready to protect them against cyberterrorism. Likewise, I hope that the readers would enjoy the love story between David and his native New Mexican girlfriend, Toni, who comes from very different culture, and appreciate David’s newly-discovered love of his country that he took for granted before his Moscow assignment.      

4.      How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? My decision about the book title and its design evolved during the years it took me to write the novel. At the outset, it was clear that cyberwars is its basic theme. It was also evident that David Knight is my spy in Russia. These two themes were combined in a suggestion by my 3rd Coast Books editor. I still remember when this happened. I was just leaving my dentist office when I got his text saying, “why not combine the two themes and title it Cyberwars: David Knight Goes to Moscow?” “Brilliant,” I texted back. The cover design followed the same thinking and cooperative work with 3rd Coast Books, and resulted in a cover that tells the reader what the book is all about pictorially.  

5.       What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Frankly, I could use words of wisdom from other writers, too! I would advise fellow writers to take their time thinking about the subject and about every detail of their book before putting pen to paper. I would tell them to write several vignettes and read them aloud to see if they got the right rhythm, music and voice—not only the plot—of the story. Once they find their “groove,” I would tell them to develop their own routine and stick to it (mine is to write in the mornings, edit in the afternoons, and meet my characters at night to decide on the next day’s writing). Then I would advise them to be ready to write several drafts of their book before they have a reasonably presentable text.   

6.      What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? The world of book publishing has been upended in the past twenty years, and that is a good change, like a constructive chaos. The industry had become more concentrated in the hands of giants like Amazon, but the change made it possible for everyone to become a writer. It also made it possible for small, independent publishers to grow in numbers and power. I see this trend continuing in yet unseen permutations.  

7.      What challenges did you overcome to write this book? My challenges in writing this book were both professional and personal. The book is based on real events pertaining to spying and cybersecurity. The challenge was to decide how much to tell without harming my sources. My personal challenge centered on the large amount of time required to write the book and on overcoming the loneliness inherent in the writing process. But once the book was completed, I felt joy that I could share it with readers everywhere.    

8.      How would you describe your writing style? I don’t really know. I write carefully, agonizingly so sometimes.  I choose my words so that readers can follow my thinking. At times, I describe things, for example: how hot and suffocating is the small adobe home of my protagonist, David Knight, in the desert of the Southwest; in other instances I write in an expository style, as in when the Russian scientist in the novel explains to David Knight what is big data and how it is used in cyberwars; and finally in some other instances I use persuasive style, as in when David Knight tries to convince readers of Russia’s cyberthreat to the U.S. I guess one could call my writing style eclectic and purposeful.  

9.      If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? People should buy my book because it is the first of its kind that could help them understand the new world of cyberwars and perhaps help them protect their cyberlives. This is a New Cold War world that’s going to affect every aspect of their lives as individuals, community members, and as citizen. Their financial, health, and voter information could be taken and used without their knowledge, and their electric and Wi-Fi services could be invisibly disconnected at any moment. As well, this book is about love between two people from stunningly different backgrounds, and about the redemption of protagonist David Knight.   

About The Author: Avraham Shama is an award-winning writer, professor, and consultant. He specializes in the Russian economy and in the spread of new technologies. Shama has published extensively in these areas. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science and an M.B.A. from the Hebrew University, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, the Kellogg School of Management. For more information, please see:



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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This blog, with over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: 

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