Back from hiatus, and what better way to kick things off than an interview with Tal Bauer? Tal is a recent friend, but right off the bat, I’ve been impressed by Tal’s energy and friendliness. When I get home from work, I just sort of collapse in front of my computer. Meanwhile, Tal has a very challenging day job (incredible, but challenging), but whenever I open facebook, there is Tal, radiating positivity like a champ. Welcome, Tal! It is great to have you here.
Tal: Thanks, Gillian. It’s great to be here. I appreciate the kind words! I definitely try to keep it light.
My first question for you is how do you do it? You’ve written a 100k thriller while working providing humanitarian relief, which I would imagine is really hard work! How do you do it? Are you insanely organized? Super driven? Or do you have time-related super powers?
Tal: LOL! I am definitely NOT super organized. I send emails like they’re text messages and post it notes, and I am sure I have sent over 100K of those annoying little things to my editor in the past six weeks alone.
My day job, as you said, is humanitarian relief. I specifically work at a refugee center, providing medical and psychological care, and teaching as well. It’s a combination K-12 school program, health, and resettlement program. That actually ends up being a 24/7 job, in reality.
So I am a writer with part-time time. I try and squeeze in writing when I can. I daydream on the drive to and from work. I jot down notes on my phone while I’m waiting in line, or waiting for meetings to start, or when I find myself with a few extra minutes. I imagine my story so much in my part-time time that when I have full-time time – uninterrupted hours on a weekend, or an evening where I can devote a chunk of time to my writing – the story has already been written in my mind and I can simply let my fingers type it out. J
It’s not organized, and it’s not a super power, but it’s what works for me. I think we all need to find what works best for you, and run with that.
I absolutely agree with that! I’m really looking forward to getting to know you more, Tal, as it sounds like we share an international interest. As I’m mentally preparing to leave Japan, I’ve been thinking about how my experiences here have shaped my writing. I think there’s something about the clash and interplay of cultures that leads to interesting dynamics in writing. From the sounds of things, you’ve experienced the interplay of different cultures yourself! What are these and have they impacted your writing?
Tal: I’ve been around the world more times than I can count. Spent a lot of time in certain places, less time in others. I consider myself a part-time resident of East Africa, and a past part-time resident of parts of the Middle East. I like to bring those experiences and perspectives into my writing. A lot of times, it is unconscious. It’s just how I see the world. I read the news from four different continents every week! It just bleeds together, after a while. Your perspective shifts, I believe, and you start thinking of this place as a singular planet, interconnected, instead of far off and distant lands, totally unconnected to your own life.
What inspires you to write? Is there a message you want to spread, a perspective you want to share or a certain type of story you want to tell?
Tal: I want to share entertaining stories. J I’m not out to change the world. I want to share entertaining stories about love, adventure, and journeys, and about the power of unending love triumphing over seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I guess that would be the message, then. The power of unstoppable love.
How does your writing philosophy play out in Enemies of the State?
Tal: Well, that would be giving it away! J
Until last year, I had absolutely zero interest in American politics. Then I went to Washington D.C. for a friend’s wedding and was blown away by the history of the place. For the first time, the importance the President has for Americans made sense (I’m a New Zealander, and we do not tend to take our prime ministers terribly seriously). I imagine that you had a lot of fun coming up with the character of Jack Spiers. Was Jack inspired by any real political leaders?
Tal: In a way, yes. I took the friendliness and camaraderie of one past president, the political savviness of another, and the wretched loneliness of yet another as an inspiration for the base of the character. (I won’t say which ones because there is no way I can answer THAT question without infuriating *someone*! J ) If all of these presidents can possesses these traits and qualities and attitudes, then so can my character.
I also looked for a sort of “idealized” president. Who could unite the nation now? Who, if we could all create a campaign and a president from scratch, that we loved, would that look like? I know Jack isn’t the answer for everyone. But he’s an everyday guy, just trying to make the world a better place. I think we can all understand that motivation.
The special agent running the presidential detail is Ethan Reichenbach. This makes me very happy because I have an Ethan in my Thorns and Fangs series! My Ethan, unfortunately, would be the worlds worst special agent because he would be much more interested in protecting the White House garden than the president. How would your Ethan field as a farmer?
Tal: LOL. Ethan is a focused man. A man of action. He’s former Army, and his whole life has been one of regulations, doing what’s right, and serving a larger cause. I think he’d be quite lost as a farmer, without a cause to serve… or a man to protect. J
What I really like about the Enemies of the State blurb is that it describes two men with very strong agendas and obviously professional mindsets, and pits that against a mutual attraction. How did you go about developing their relationship?
Tal: Achingly slowly! As one ARC reviewer put it, their get together is “frustratingly awesome”. LOL! But you’re exactly right – both of these men have very strong personal and professional identities and agendas. They’re not seeking their happily ever after. They’re not looking to fall in love. What happens trips both men up, and the build up to that had to be slow and honest.
As a writer, I strive for realism. Realism in stories, adventure, and in love. I wanted, in this story, to specifically showcase two strong, confident men falling into love, without their permission, and with the entire world stacked against their hearts. Additionally, Jack identifies as straight. 100% straight. He’s not bi, doesn’t have a closeted past in college, had no experimentation, and never, ever thought about a man before. His journey toward love is also a journey of exploration – what will one man do to understand his own heart?
Hopefully, it worked out for the readers!
You also mentioned the international locations in the book and how you’d taken pains to make sure they were accurate. How did you go about this?
Tal: Because I have been to every location! J Prague, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc… J
I was excited that you mentioned Prague amongst the locations of Enemies of the State. I visited Prague when I was 16 with my family and it made a big impression on me. I’ve actually got vague writing plans involving Prague in the future. But what I want to ask you is out of all the locations in the book, is there one that is particularly meaningful or that you want to visit? Alternatively, is there anywhere not mentioned in Enemies of the State that you really want to write about?
Tal: I think all of the locations are near and dear to me. Prague, for sure. I love Prague. It’s a spectacular city. If I could live anywhere, Prague would certainly be high on the list.
I would love to explore more of President Sergey Puchkov, the president of the Russian Federation. And, I’m happy to announce that we will all see more of him, and of Russia, in the sequel to Enemies of the State, and the second book in The Executive Office series. J
Thanks again for stopping by to chat, Tal! How can readers keep up with you?
Tal: Thank you for having me! Readers can follow me on Facebook. It’s turned out to be the best place to interact with me. I post about my life, my work, and my writing, and a huge dose of fun and humor as well! Also, my Goodreads page is always great for asking questions and connecting.
A rogue Black Ops unit with the president in their crosshairs.
A Secret Service agent who will break every rule.
A president falling for the one person he shouldn’t—a man.
Newly elected President Jack Spiers’s presidency is rocked from the very beginning, and he’s working furiously to keep the world from falling apart. Between terrorism attacks ripping apart Europe, Russia’s constant posturing and aggression, and the quagmire of the Middle East, Jack is struggling to keep his campaign promise—to work toward a better, safer world.
For Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach, Jack is just another president, the third in twelve years. With Jack’s election, he’s been promoted, and now he’s running the presidential detail, which puts him side by side with Jack daily. He’s expecting another stuffed suit and an arrogant DC politician, but Jack shocks him with his humor and humanity.
There are rules against a Secret Service agent and one of their protectees developing a friendship—big rules. Besides, Jack is straight as a ruler, and a widower, and Ethan has always avoided falling for straight men. Ethan keeps his distance, but Jack draws him in, like gas to a naked flame, and it’s a lure he isn’t strong enough to turn away from.
As the two men collide, rules are shattered and the world teeters on the verge of war, and a rogue Black Ops unit bent on destruction sets Jack in their deadly crosshairs. Ethan must put everything on the line in order to save the man he’s come to love, Jack’s presidency, and the world.
Enemies of the State will be published by NineStar Press from February 15th. Preorders available now from the NineStar Press site. Coming soon to Amazon, ARE, and other online retailers.