Sunday, March 19, 2023

Interview With Body Language Expert & Author Gavin Stone


1. Why did you write this book?

Originally, I wanted to write a book to share my experiences and about my own life. However, I decided with the first attempt it could potentially cause too much trouble for any parties mentioned. With that in mind, I went on to write a watered-down version but it ended up getting so watered down that it became boring, so much so that even I fell asleep reading it back to myself. A third attempt to find a middle ground wasn't yielding the results I wanted and eventually, my wife suggested writing a fiction novel. It was the perfect answer. I could combine all of my experience and knowledge into a fictional story, ultimately delivering a realistic and adventurous novel that wouldn't put any lives in danger and create any issues for previous clients. 

2. What is it about and who is it really for?

The story consists of a freelance intelligence operative who decides to take life easy after his daughter is born. However, his past comes back to haunt him when a former enemy wants vengeance. Forced to get back into the game after his wife and daughter are kidnapped, Jensen (the main character) and his friends Marshall and Darius, set out to do what they do best.

The style of this book is for both newbies to the Spy-FI genre and die hard spy novel lovers. The book contains sections explaining all of the tradecraft, how it's used and why. For people new to spy novels there is now way they can be confused by acronyms, abbreviations and terminology. As for the seasoned Spy-Fi reader, these tradecraft sections are easily identifiable and can be skipped by anyone not wanting a lesson in something they already know and want to get on with the story. It's also ideal reading for anyone preparing to work in the industry and want a field manual style book with the entertainment of a great gripping story in the mix too. 

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

I hope readers get a view of a world that's not normally as openly displayed as it is in this book. I hope they learn, while getting entertained and engrossed in a world of espionage from a contractors point of view. An area not normally looked at in this genre. With the first drafts of parts 2 and 3 already underway, I hope to make even more revelations in the spy tradecraft sections. 

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design?

The book's title was a difficult one. I can't even remember the working title of the original version but when I decided to write it as fiction, my first attempts were as a comedy book. I wanted a very tongue in cheek and light hearted version of the spy world. The comical version which never took off was first called "Spy at home dad" After several re-writes, the working title changed to "The Vendetta Assignment" and then "The Troika Attack". Eventually I called a good friend of mine form MI6 (the British Secret INtelligence Service) and we spent the night brainstorming ideas until we settled on the current title "The Unforgiven Spy" 

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?

I made so many mistakes as I learned about writing so here goes with where I went so wrong and how you can avoid the same pitfalls and be a better writer. First of all, if you don't know about the genre or area you are writing about, find someone that does. The real world is usually very different from what TV portrays. Familiarize yourself with the subject you're going to be writing about. On the flipside, if you are extremely familiar with your topic and worked in the industry for many years, remember that your reader probably hasn't. So, while you might know all the parlance, they might now. 

Engage all five senses in every scene, don't just write what can be seen, tell us how it smells, the temperature, any feelings, what can be heard. Create a scene that the reader can feel. So if they close their eyes for just a moment, they can be there. You want it to be as real to them as the world they're in.

This next tip might sound a little unusual and probably hasn't been mentioned by any writer giving advice before. I might be considered biased because of my experience in the area but take a course (A good course) in body language. A lot of people think they're good at reading body language until it comes to actually doing it or writing it in a story. If you know the reason behind why a person makes particular gestures etc, it can add a whole new level of realism to your characters. Your reader will be internally saying things like "Yes, I do that when I get mad too." or "Ha, my husband does that when he's working" and so on. You would be surprised how much this helps. Your reader will definitely thank you for it. 

Hire a good BETA reader (preferably 2 or 3) to read your first draft and give you honest feedback. Don't make the mistake of asking friends or family, that's the reason so many people embarrass themselves on talent shows because nobody close to them had the heart to tell them they suck! An independant BETA reader will not care about your feelings and will give you genuine and valuable feedback. Don't be disheartened if they're not telling you it's the best book they've ever read and instead are telling you where the worst parts are, it's their job. If they come back to you with masses of areas that need improvement, congratulations, you've got a great BETA reader. You've caught it early enough to turn bad into good and good into great before you hit the publish button. If you struggle to take criticism, writing is not for you. When it comes to the final product, don't rush. Take you time, get a really awesome title and the best cover design you can possibly get made. Have several done and create a poll for feedback on the designs before choosing the final cover. 

Lastly, when you've finally done all that and your book is written and ready to go, that's when the hard work begins, not ends. So many people put great amounts of effort into the writing of a book to upload it to Amazon and get disappointed when they don't become a rich overnight success story. It's a business, you have to promote it. That's right, you! Popping a book and Amazon and wondering why nobody's buying it, is a bit like having a phone connected and wondering why nobody's calling you. If you don't give the number out, nobody will call. Just like if you don't promote your book, nobody will buy it. So be prepared to do everything you can and put lots of effort into promotion. A business is only as strong as its brand. You are the brand, so get yourself out into the public eye and push your book. 

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? 

Right now, self-publishing is booming, traditional publishing is struggling to keep up. However, it's not without its pitfalls too. ebooks seem to have reached a peak and are on a rapid decline as paperback books make a huge comeback. The current issue is quality assurance. Whereas self-publishing gives you the option to cut out the middleman and earn more and have more control when it comes to things like TV rights etc. Traditional contracts may have areas like this covered but now always in the authors favor, so having self-published gives you more power to make your own choices. I'm not sure of the exact figures but according to Amazon, paperback books are making a huge comeback and ebooks, kindle and Nook etc are fading fast. This is something traditional publishers will probably be excited about but they will need to do something to stay ahead of the curve when they compete against the new methods of self-publishing.

New and established authors are moving over to the self-publishing world and traditional publishers are seeing this. Where the big publishing companies were previously very fussy, slow to respond, and difficult to deal with, doing it all yourself online has changed everything. Traditional publishers now don't offer good sized down payments as often as they used to (except in rare circumstances) and royalty payments can be as much as a year waiting. With this in mind, I think the industry will have to face some big changes to keep up with the modern times. I don't know what all of those changes will be, but I do know if they want to survive, they will need to adapt. 

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? 

This entire book is written from firsthand experience in every area bar one, the main character has his wife and daughter kidnapped and while I have dealt with and worked on K&R cases in the past, this isn't something I've personally been through. As for everything else, the continuity in the book is 100% accurate. If I say something is there, then it is (or was at the time of writing), if I say a code to a gate or name of a website, it exists in real life. If I describe a tradecraft technique, I've used it. Everything in this book is written from real world events and occurrences that I've personally experienced.  

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to?

This is a difficult one to answer, while every writer likes to think their style is unique, this book is written in a way unlike anything I've come across before. As the story unfolds, there are sections explaining the tradecraft in a field manual like style. WHile it's not written in a LeCarre or Tom Clancy style, it's also not the other end of the spectrum either. I've tried to keep it easy reading and humorous with a good story and plenty of action. I didn't want to create something that was a laborious read and also kept the theme open for TV adaptation in the future as a possibility. 

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book?

I made myself a promise when I set out to write this book, I wanted to give people a look into the real world of spying and the types of improvisations we need to make when working in the field. At the same time, I didn't want to ever reveal something that would ever put people's lives in danger. While Tv and movies tend to give the impression of the spy game being all about the gadgets, the truth is, we usually have nothing to operate with other than what's publicly available (for obvious deniability reasons). The last thing you want is to be stopped at the airport by security explaining why you have explosives in your watch or a cigarette packet that disguises a dart gun. In the real world, if you need something for a job, it usually has to be BIC or Bought In Country. With this in mind, I do reveal techniques that a lot of people won't know about or tradecraft tricks that are unknown by the general public. Even though for the most part, I give specific and exact instructions, The one area I won't do this is when it comes to improvised explosive devices (IED's). I do bend the rules slightly in part 3 when I describe the method of making an improvised hydrogen bomb but I deliberately miss out a handful of details and measurements etc. A bit like if somebody were to ask how do you bake a cake and you reply "Oh just some eggs, flour and a couple of other bits that get baked in the oven. Without the rest of the ingredients, oven temperature, time in the oven and so on, you won't get a cake. There's no (good) reason for anyone to know how to make explosives that I can think of, so, that's the one area I leave the details out.

So to answer your question, the biggest challenge I had to overcome was how much detail to leave out or put in (and how to not make a story become a field manual with fluff). I sincerely hope I got the balance right. 

10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?

Ah, how to brag and remain modest at the same time. I see you've saved the hardest question until last. I want to deliver something that the reader will truly enjoy and welcome as much feedback and constructive criticism (Note the word constructive there guys) as I can get. The reader is the person this is all done for and with the reader in mind, I'd love to give something they will truly enjoy. The only way I can achieve that, is with the communication of the reader. I am on all of the main social media websites as well as Linkedin and would love to hear from you. I'd Love to know what topics you'd like to know more about, the bits you didn't like so much so I can improve them, the bits you really liked so I can replicate them and what inspired the reader to buy the book so I can give more and keep giving a great experience to the reader. It's you that counts and it's you I'd like to give it my all for and produce something with your help that ticks every box for a great read. 

About The Author: Gavin Stone is a former civil servant for the British Ministry of Defense (similar to the US DIA) who has worked in the Security & Intelligence industry for around twenty years in a spectrum of roles from covert surveillance to HUMINT (Human Intelligence) gathering and many more. He's also continued on to teach, train and mentor new and seasoned operatives working in the field. Voted one of the world’s best body language experts (Top 30 Gurus) he's also known for his skill in CCA (Combined Communication Analysis) taking a mixture of his body Language expertise and his qualifications in Forensic Statement Analysis and Psychology as well as other areas, Stone is considered a master at Deception detection. With the vast experience he's gathered over the years, Stone is now pushing his career as an author where his volumes of knowledge can be delivered to you, the reader. For more information, please see: Twitter: @AuthorGavin;; or

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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. 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 award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it 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 years 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, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, 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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