Friday, 12 August 2022

I Interviews

Interview: James R. Hannibal

As a former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot, you bring a wealth of knowledge to your high-action suspense stories. Can you relay how your knowledge helped you write The Gryphon Heist?

In the intelligence world, we have a saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That means an operative or analyst must work not only to find specific answers but also to discover what information or questions he or she didn’t even know to look for. Experience gives me an advantage in writing spy thrillers, because I know to look for information where others may not. I still do heavy research, but I have a head start. Additionally, you can’t truly know that world unless The Gryphon Heist Book Coveryou’ve lived as a part of it. I’d like to caveat that statement by adding that fiction, in my opinion, should be escapist and enjoyable. So I expand on certain realities and create new ones over what real intelligence work is like in order to take the adventure to the next level for the reader.


What was your inspiration behind your book?

I had two inspirations: thieves and millennials, not necessarily in that order. I wanted to start a series of spy thrillers for the up-and-coming generation. So many thrillers these days are based on the older guy who has been around for a while. Instead, I wanted to see this world fresh, through the eyes of a rookie—and I wanted to make that today’s rookie, not me as a rookie. By the way, that took as much research as the technical stuff. While mulling my rookie over, I also got into thievery—not in any illegal sense. In a section of my last kids’ mystery series, I went deep into the pickpockets and thieves of a London thieves’ guild. That got me thinking about an elite team of thieves working for the CIA. From there, the story ran away with me.


You have several key characters in your new series. Among the thieves, spies, and assassins, do you have any favorites?

I love all my characters the same. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say? Honestly, Tyler is at the top. No spoilers, but this guy has a shady past with layer after layer I can peel back through the story. Exploring this world with him at my side is a lot of fun. Finn, the daredevil cat burglar, and Darcy, the chemist-slash-explosives expert come up as close seconds. Darcy’s a bit off, so I never know what she’ll do next. Finn has a subconscious death wish combined with great skillsets, both aerial and criminal, so he is fun as well. I also liked playing him off our hero Talia, although he’ll have to get over himself if there’s going to be any real romance there.


In addition to offering a gripping tale, you also include an underlying theme of forgiveness inThe Gryphon Heist. Can you elaborate on that?

Forgiveness emerged as a natural theme in this story amid the overall exploration of morality. God, as creator, is the author of morality, and he calls us to forgive. Most people don’t realize that a directive to forgive immediately follows the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. As a former foster child who has endured a hard youth, Talia must overcome a great deal of anger if she is to grow as the hero and return to her faith. She must even learn to forgive the man responsible for her father’s death.


What do you hope readers gain from reading your book?

I hope readers have fun and see a new side of the spy world. I also hope they get a greater understanding of how James R. Hannibalmorality applies toespionage—a subject that interested even Thomas Jefferson. But most of all, I hope the readers gain a better understanding of Christ’s sacrifice, God’s forgiveness, and our own need to forgive.


Who would you say is your primary audience?

Every author wants “everyone” to read his or her book, but every book needs a focused audience. The central audience for The Gryphon Heist is twenty- and thirty-something women who love suspense.


What are you working on next?

Talia’s second Clandestine Service adventure will follow close on the heels of the first. I am nearing the end of that one already. I wish that I could share more, but the details are classified.


How can readers connect with you?

Readers can most easily connect with me on social media via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, simply by searching for James R. Hannibal.


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