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Thursday 17 December 2015

ℚ Corruption of Power: Alex Leksin [2] - G.W. Eccles

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about his new release, Corruption of Power (, Peach Publishing, 320 pages), a Political Thriller, book two of Alex Leksin series.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | About the Author |

A very warm welcome to G.W. Eccles; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Corruption of Power?

"The action of Corruption of Power takes place principally in Moscow and Central Asia, and it is based on the premise that the corruption in both countries runs right to the top.  I lived in Russia for five years, often dealing with real-life oligarchs, and then Central Asia for another five years, often dealing with government officials and central bankers, and it was my experiences during this period that provided the inspiration for the Leksin thriller series generally and, Corruption of Power in particular.

These are extraordinary regions in which to work where contracts are often meaningless, key corporate activities are kept ‘off book’, management lives in a style way beyond that possible on their ‘official’ salary, government make little effort to hide their corruption, Presidents become billionaires, and judicial decisions are determined in advance by the weight of the bribe.

Throughout the ten years I was there, I constantly thought that one day it would provide the perfect setting for a thriller.  My first thriller, The Oligarch, honed in on Russia and, in particular, on an Arctic mining company very similar to one where I spent six months. Much of the action of the second, Corruption of Power, is set in Turkmenistan, one of the most sinister countries in the world and where I had an office which I regularly used to visit."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"An independent troubleshooter, Alex Leksin, is the hero of the thriller.  He is a character of many contradictions: a brilliant, intuitive investigator but riddled with self-doubt; utterly driven but reliant on artificial stimulants; attractive to, and attracted by, women but unable to hold down a relationship; good company but a loner; in many ways the son most mothers would love to have but deeply flawed.  Whilst some of his thoughts and preferences are my own too, in fact he is based on someone whom I knew when I lived in Moscow and who provided not dissimilar services.

Probably the character who most closely ressembles me, if I’m honest, is Nikolai Koriakov, Leksin’s best friend and deputy minister at the Department of Overseas Development.  I definitely share his love of chocolate!"
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Corruption of Power - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The cover was designed by Peach Publications.  Not surprisingly, there were a number of drafts before we hit upon one that everyone liked, but I’m very happy with the end product.

Corruption of Power relates to the Russian President’s strategy to reduce his country’s reliance on Europe in advance of his planned expansion into neighbouring territory.  One facet of his strategy is to build a pipeline for Russia’s oil through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, and it is when this starts to go wrong that Leksin is called in to investigate.  
 That is the logic of the cover which features a man (Leksin) tracing the path of a pipeline running across the desert."
Why should we read Corruption of Power and what sets it apart from the rest?
"My purpose in writing the series is to entertain.  They are unashamedly out-and-out thrillers, which I hope rattle along pretty fast and constantly surprise the reader with their twists.

Onto the of the key features that make them different is the settings.  It doesn't always seem the case that books set in this part of the world are well-researched or that the locations are familiar to the author.  I lived in Russian and Central Asia, and my work involved me travelling to a numerous places not normally visited by westerners.  Certainly few will have visited an Arctic mining town, some thousand kilometres from the next urban conurbation, since you need a special pass issued by the Ministry to gain access.  Similarly not many will have gone through the bureaucratic nightmare of getting a visa to visit Turkmenistan, and the few who have will probably have just visited two or three main tourist sites.

I have tried to instil into the books a sense of authenticity, not just in the scenery but in the logistics of moving around, the way people live and the hazards encountered with the authorities there."
Who would you recommend Corruption of Power to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Corruption of Power is aimed at adults who enjoy thrillers.  It takes place against a background of state-sponsored terrorism, and it holds no punches.  It is quite dark in places.  In particular, some readers may recognise the real events that inspired some of the terrorist incidents in the book."
If you could / wished to turn Corruption of Power and the Alex Leksin series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I’ve asked myself this question many times – wishful thinking, I guess – and each time I come up with a different cast list.  Today, the cast list would read:

* Leksin, the independent troubleshooter and hero: Rupert Friend
* Anya, the oligarch’s daughter in The Oligarch: Alicia Vikander
* Blok, the oligarch: Tim Pigott-Smith
* Vika, Leksin’s former fiancée in Corruption of Power: Rooney Mara
* Karpev, the Russian President: Damian Lewis
* Nikolai, Leksin’s best friend: Dominic West
* Nadia, a terrorist: Jodie Foster"
What is your writing process?
"I would like to say disciplined, but in fact it tends to be sporadic.  I go through periods when I write like mad, then others when I hardly write at all – though, even at these times, I’m constantly thinking about the plot.

I work from a detailed plan.  I can’t see how else you can write thrillers which need to have different strands interwoven throughout the book, gradually coming together as the denouement approaches.  I spend at least six months working on this plan before I start writing, then try to put together a first draft fairly quickly.  The subsequent rewriting and editing normally takes me longer than preparing the first draft."
What is in store next?
"I’m halfway through the third in the Leksin series (no title as yet).  The action takes place in England and Russia, and is inspired by a story I read earlier this year in the newspapers about a group of investors who, having lost vast sums in a Moscow scam, all die under mysterious circumstances."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I have a cat called Lenin.  She’s seven years old and rules the house with a rod of iron!  Her life is about to be disturbed since we’re about to take delivery of a three-month old British bulldog puppy to be called Boris.  He’s going to replace our thirteen year old bulldog, Winston, who sadly died last Spring."
Author G.W. Eccles
with LENIN the cat.
The Puppy
In Loving Memory of
Thank you for sharing them with us.   Boris seems adorable :-)
And of course we look forward to reading ...

Corruption of Power
Available NOW!

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