Operation Bald Eagle is an exciting spy thriller from young author Kyle Bell. It follows the actions of CIA agent Ethan Clark and his assistant Martin Frost as they fight to prevent a cyber-attack on the United States. It’s gritty, fast-moving, worryingly plausible and brilliantly written. Well worth a read.
Kyle Bell is a very interesting guy so this has turned into quite a long interview, but I know you’ll find it fascinating. So here we go.
What inspired you to write Operation Bald Eagle?
I have always been a big fan of the spy genre – everything from James Bond movies to video games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. More recently I discovered Ian Fleming’s writings out of curiosity for how the movie character differed from the big screen renditions. I’ve drawn inspiration from all of these in order to write Operation Bald Eagle.
Which character from the book are you most like – Clark, Frost, Goldberg or Falcon?
I would like to think that I’m closer to Ethan Clark and Martin Frost than the villains! Ethan is level-headed and reasonable. Readers will find his coolness appealing, as well as the fact that he comes across as human. Frost is young and idealistic. He’s less cautious and prone to mistakes. Really, I’m a blend of both characters, although I could never do their job in a million years.
As for the villains, they’re both decidedly evil in their own way. Goldberg’s infatuation with himself would rival that of Narcissus. His delusions of grandeur and power lead him down a dark path. Falcon is a complete sociopath. I don’t identify with either of them, but they’re fun villains to have in the book
You describe Operation Bald Eagle as going ‘back to the roots of the spy genre’. What are those roots?
Classic spy films and novels are exciting without being completely ridiculous in plot. They were focused on the conflict between protagonist and villain rather than relying on special effects to thrill the audience. So aside from sticking to the basics, Operation Bald Eagle builds a strong dynamic between Ethan and both of the villains.
Operation Bald Eagle has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?
The credit for the cover goes to Angel Cortes. He is a fantastic graphic designer having done most of the covers for my books. His e-mail is [email protected] for those that might need a cover of their own. Highly recommended!
You created and own a video gaming website http://gamefreaks365.com. Is it easy to fit your writing around being an entrepreneur?
Several of my books have been compilations of reviews taken from the Game Freaks 365 website, so it is actually quite easy to fit the two together. Operation Bald Eagle is my first full-length work of fiction. It started as part of National Novel Writing Month in November 2011, but I quickly found that it would be exceedingly difficult to reach 50,000 words – especially since I started five days late. Instead it was finished in two months, which is still not bad. I wanted it to be done when it was done rather than stick to an artificial timeline. Surprisingly, I still found enough time to manage Game Freaks 365 at the height of the holiday period – traditionally the busiest in the industry.
What’s your current favourite video game?
This is a difficult question. I really don’t have a single favorite game of all time, but in the past year I would say that the game that I enjoyed the most was Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Video games have become a new medium to tell stories. Deus Ex is one of the best to do it so far. The game makes you think about difficult moral dilemmas – bioethics in an age of increased human augmentation, the militarization of police forces that confront civilians, and the increased power of mega-corporations that drown out the masses.
Another book you’ve written is The James Bond Movie Guide so I’m guessing you’re a 007 fan. (Me too!) Which is your favourite Bond movie and why?
The first encounter that I had with James Bond was GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64. I’m twenty-three now, but back then I was only about ten. I was obsessed with that game, playing it constantly with friends. My dad rented the movie from Hollywood Video and I fell in love with it immediately. Looking back on it now, it probably wasn’t the best Bond movie (although it would rank high up there). However, it is historically noteworthy since it’s the first Bond movie after the end of the Cold War. It was questionable at the time whether Bond was relevant anymore. Pierce Brosnan proved that he was by introducing the character to a new generation of fans.
You describe Ethan Clark as an anti-Bond hero. Is that a good or bad thing?
James Bond is an amazing character with more complexity than he’s often given credit for, especially the literary version. However, for the longest time – especially in the movies – he comes across as a playboy disinterested in world affairs, fumbling around looking for his next lover. This is not how Ethan Clark operates. He’s a professional out to do his job, a no-nonsense type. I don’t view it as either good or bad. Ethan Clark is a distinct character.
Of course! Your own private island, lavish meals, beautiful people all around – who wouldn’t want that? Being the cause of a nuclear disaster is another story, though.
Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. The movie is coming out this summer – I want to enjoy the book first. I recently read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. I try to mix my book list between novels and non-fiction.
You write a political blog at www.kylebell.com, you’re a political science graduate and you’ve written a book about US immigration policy, The Sanctuary Movement. Are we going to see you in government one day?
Unlikely, but never say never. The United States has lost a lot of the respect that we once had in the world due to a number of foreign policy blunders and a lack of moral leadership. I grew up in the 1990s during a time of peace and prosperity only to see that unravel in the past decade. I saw politics as a route to better the world. The past several years of watching the discord in Washington has led me to reconsider how I could most make a difference. There are too many inauthentic politicians beholden to a small group of wealthy interests.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?
If you told me ten years ago that I would release a book in the future – let alone multiple books – I probably would not have believed you. Amusingly, it all dates back to before I could even write a sentence on paper. When I was four or five years old I would dictate stories to my Aunt Mary. Unfortunately none of them are around anymore, but it was the beginning of my interest in writing.
Ozzy started off as a project for college. I was in an English class where we used a number of different techniques to tell stories. One of them was narrative collage where we juxtaposed text with images. The fonts, the alignment of the sentences, and the photographs all have a purpose.
Sadly, I lost a number of family members in recent years. Grandma Rose and Grandpa Wayne passed away within a couple years of each other on my father’s side of the family. Ozzy was written in dedication to both of them. It’s an emotional story that was quite difficult to write.
The two main characters are a black Persian cat by the name of Ozzy and his owner (who he refers to simply as “Master”), an old man trying to overcome the death of his beloved wife. The story is told through the perspective of the cat and the old man. It’s a short and sweet read that I hope more people will get a chance to encounter.
You wrote a book about the 2008 election in the USA: An Election to Remember: Obama, Clinton and the Never Ending Primary of 2008. Will there be one on this year’s elections?
The Republican primary has seen a number of interesting twists and turns. Nearly all of the candidates have at one point led in national polling. There’s no telling where things might end up. Even with all of the tantalizing nuggets from the campaign trail – the meteoric rise and fall of Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann’s craziness, and Herman Cain’s sexual harassment problems, just to name a few – I still don’t plan on writing a book at this point.
The 2008 election was historic in a number of ways. The two most obvious ones: a woman or an African-American man would end up as the Democratic Party’s nominee. President Obama went on to get elected in a country that only roughly fifty years prior was still permitting segregation. It was also the first presidential election since 1952 that neither party had an incumbent president or vice president on the ballot. In other words, it was wide open without an heir apparent. 2008 was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Pursue your dreams and don’t give up. Undoubtedly it will be frustrating at times, but the end product is what makes it all worth the effort.
Chinese, cheesecake, and pizza
And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?
Golf pants 🙂