Interview with Steve Berry, author of The King's Deception

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publish Date: June 11, 2013

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.

At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.” An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.

Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.

Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.

Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.

Cotton Malone series: The Admiral's Mark (0.5), The Templar Legacy (1), The Alexandria Link (2), The Venetian Betrayal (3), The Charlemagne Pursuit (4), The Paris Vendetta (5), The Balkan Escape (5.5), The Emperor's Tomb (6), The Devil's Gold (6.5), The Jefferson Key (7), The Tudor Plot (7.5), The King's Deception (8)

Interview: 1. You wrote your first novel in 1990—what made you decide you wanted to write? What kept you driven in the face of rejection?

Every writer has a little voice in their head that tells them to write.  That voice doesn’t say “write a bestseller and sell a bunch of books,” it just says “sit down and write I won’t bother you.  If you don’t, I’m gonna nag you until you do.”  That voice tugged at me for about ten to twelve years until finally, in 1990, when I sat down and started writing.  That little voice is still there today.  It’s what drove me forward and kept me going through 12 years, 85 rejections, over 5 different manuscripts.  My road to being published was a long one.

2. Your latest novel, The King’s Deception, tackles quite a controversial conspiracy surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s real gender and identity. Do you believe the conspiracy is legitimate or did you just find it to be a fascinating premise for a novel?

I think it’s both possible and fascinating.  The most wonderful fiction always has a ring of truth to it.  Here, everything centers around the Bisley Boy legend.  Three years ago, Elizabeth and I were north of London doing some publicity work for my British publisher when our guide told me about a local legend.   In the village of Bisley, for many centuries on a day certain, the locals would dress a young boy in female Elizabethan costume and parade him through the streets.  How odd.  I then discovered that Bram Stoker, in the early part of the 20th century (the man who wrote Dracula), also heard the tale and wrote about it in a book called Famous Imposters, which I read. I then began to read about Elizabeth I and learned of many odd things associated with her.

3. You and Cotton Malone share some similarities—such as a love for rare books. Was this intentional? What would you say is the biggest similarity between your personality and Cotton’s?

He basically is me.  When I created him for The Templar Legacy, I used my personality.  So we share a lot of traits. The love of rare books.  He doesn’t like enclosed spaces, I don’t either.  He doesn't drink alcohol.  He has finicky eating habits, so do I. I, of course, don’t jump out of planes and shoot guns at bad guys, so I live that through him.

4. What is your favorite response or feedback to get from readers?

When someone says, “I read your book, drifted off to another world, and enjoyed myself for a little while, forgetting the real world.” That’s the best compliment I think any writer can receive.

5. How many novel ideas are sitting in your “ideas folder” right now? How do you pick which one you will work on next?

Luckily, I have ideas for the next four books.   That's rare for me.  Usually it's just one book ahead.  I'm about to start work on the 2015 novel.  We stay a year ahead in the book business.  I’ll start writing now to turn it in a year from now.  I’m also plotting 2016 and conceptualizing 2017, gathering up research materials, getting ready for them.

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