Today we are pleased to host Molly Best Tinsley on our website discussing her new spy novel, Broken Angels. Welcome, Molly. We look forward to hearing more about your book and getting an insider’s view of your writing process.
A review of Broken Angels highlights the complexity and excitement of your novel: “Tinsley unleashes a host of hot button issues – terrorism, nuclear threats, sex trafficking, organ thefts, and the influence of religion on politics – adds a dash of post-Soviet paranoia, and dumps Victoria in the middle. It’s a recipe for espionage, gamesmanship, and no small amount of following-the-money.”
It sounds like we have no time to lose so let’s get right to our questions and answers.
HMC: BROKEN ANGELS is your second spy thriller, a sequel to SATAN’S CHAMBER which you wrote in collaboration with Karetta Hubbard. What is it about this genre that appeals to you?
Molly: For me it’s been an acquired taste.
In my early career, I wrote literary fiction. Although a novel and a collection of stories were the result, it was clear that mainstream publishing was interested only in short-term profit, not in supporting long-term careers. I got involved in playwriting for the open-ended creativity of it, enjoying its ample opportunities for small-scale productions and fertile collaboration. At the same time, crafting plays was teaching me the dynamics and value of plot.
I’ve actually always loved those big, plot-based nineteenth century novels, and I began to imagine returning to fiction and trying my hand at one, a story with plenty of action, but also a deeper, universal theme. When my long-time friend Karetta proposed that we write a spy thriller with those qualities, I agreed.
During my 20 years on the English faculty of the U. S. Naval Academy, I had little time to follow the news that was happening right under my nose. But once I left Washington, DC, for Oregon and full-time writing, I began to follow geopolitics much more closely, and the spy thriller genre, flavored with conspiracy theory, has seemed perfectly suited to the world I’ve begun to discover. Hence the hair-raising exploits of Victoria Pierce.
HMC: Would you explain the significance of the title?
Molly: Quite simply the title refers to the young women of eastern Europe who have fallen into the hands of human traffickers and been condemned to horrific lives and deaths. Thanks to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the money-grab by powerful oligarchs, the people of eastern Europe face dire poverty and have become prey to offers of jobs overseas. There are villages now in Moldova and Romania that are devoid of women between adolescence and middle age–they have all been trafficked. The typical route leads to the harbor in Odessa and from there, Istanbul, Dubai, Amsterdam, anywhere.
I did a lot of research on global trafficking, and my hope is that while turning the pages of a riveting, suspense story, my readers will learn a lot as well.
HMC: SATAN’S CHAMBER is set in Sudan, BROKEN ANGELS in Ukraine. These novels came out just as each country erupted in chaos. How did you know?
Molly: Both novels split their action between the centers of power in and around Washington, DC, and an exotic location overseas. And for purposes of “thrilling” tension, the exotic location needed to be a place where rule of law was fragile–in other words, chaos was always on the horizon. If I appear to have been ahead of the curve on Ukraine, it’s only because our mainstream media simply does not cover a lot of important news. Thank god for the Internet and its international news websites, reports, and blogs, all of which have pointed to the sad breakdown of order we see today.
HMC: Tell us a little something about the plot of BROKEN ANGELS.
Molly: Victoria Pierce has been assigned to Odessa under deep cover, so she’s operating without a net. She tasked with tracking the disappearance of highly enriched uranium from the country’s stockpiles. Early along, she stumbles on a ring of sex-traffickers and a girl who’s on the run from them. She’s caught in a conundrum–to prove herself to doubters at the Agency, she must succeed in Ukraine, and getting involved in rescuing girls will draw her off-task. Or will it? Another plot thread unspooling stateside may be tangled in the Ukrainian web, and as Pierce will demonstrate, it is only in battling all evil that you can attack its heart.
HMC: Is it necessary to read SATAN’S CHAMBER before BROKEN ANGELS?
Molly: I hope not! Many of the same characters appear in both novels, so access to the first will give the reader more backstory about them. In BROKEN ANGELS, Pierce is “older and wiser,” rebounding from a failed romance begun in Sudan, and carrying some trauma from the events there. She still tends to leap into things without an exit plan, relying on her ability to improvise.
Maud Olson, Director of Intelligence, who played an active role in SATAN’S CHAMBER, spends the sequel in hospital recovering from a near fatal attempt on her life. Francsesca Falco, Maud’s friend and a minor character in SATAN’S CHAMBER, returns to play a lead role stateside in unraveling the Ukrainian mystery. I guess the key point here is the number of strong female characters playing powerful roles and saving the day.
HMC: Do you know any spies from your years in DC?
Molly: I could make some guesses about a couple people. But I do have a confirmed case, from back when my daughters were toddlers, and we lived next door to an undercover officer in the “new town” of Reston, Virginia. Over coffee one day, his wife told me with a wink that her husband “worked for the State Department.” One day in the seventies, a phalanx of men in overcoats came marching down our street. One was the visiting president of Romania, known for his murderous, repressive regime in the Stalinist mold. (He was taken down by a revolution in 1989, tried, and shot by a firing squad.) The spy’s wife came running out to greet them wearing an apron and carrying a sheet of chocolate chip cookies. It had all been staged!
HMC: How can readers obtain copies of BROKEN ANGELS?
Molly: The best way is through the Fuze Publishing website: www.fuzepublishing.com Trade paperback books as well as ebooks in all formats (for Kindle and other platforms) are available through this site. Amazon is fine, but Amazon takes almost all the money from each sale, leaving author and publisher with little to no return.
HMC: Thank you, Molly, for joining us here today. Now, readers, it’s your turn to weigh in with your own questions or comments through the “Leave a Reply” area below. And to get your own copy of Broken Angels, head over to the Fuze Publishing website.