CBP: Ninety Days and Air Rage have taken American readers by storm. They are fast-paced international thrillers with more than a touch of Christianity thrown in for good measure. Where did you get the idea for this three-book series?
Sam: In the nineties, I edited a business magazine and managed a business information database. I also did some children’s fiction work for Macmillan. However, I yearned to write fiction for a more adult readership. I set myself three basic criteria by which any manuscript I wrote had to satisfy, before it could be published. Firstly, it had to be a page-turner. That meant most people who read whatever I wrote had to be hooked from the onset. Secondly, the lines between fact and fiction had to be blurred so that whoever read fiction that I had written would finish wondering, "Did it, or did it not happen?" Thirdly, and most importantly, there had to be a strong undercurrent about the changing power of prayer.
I already had been deeply interested in history, the operation of the finance and banking world, global politics and activities of the intelligence community. On my frequent travels, I met people who came from some of these backgrounds who told me some pretty interesting stories. However, stories don’t make a book. In one seminal moment in 2001, during the course of an hour, the entire plot of Ninety Days ‘downloaded’ into my mind. That was one of the major turning points in my life.
CBP: Your main character is a Cambridge-graduated history major who stumbles into a career as a freelance journalist. Who was your inspiration for the character of Cyrus Dreyfus Anderson?
Sam: First and foremost, Cyrus is a figment of my imagination. However, as people read Ninety Days and Air Rage, they will recognise a Cyrus-like character that they attended school with, worked with, or are related to in some way. Having said all that, Cyrus and I share a love of travel, though I don’t think I am gripped by wanderlust. Secondly, we share a deep love for history and, thirdly, we have gone through a rudderless patch in life before.
CBP: Tell us a little about Cyrus’s background and the premise of Ninety Days, the first book in the series.
Sam: Cyrus is a bright young man who got a first-class degree in history from Cambridge University and had the British establishment and business world beckoning to him to enter their gilded portals. Instead of choosing a more traditional career path, he chose to backpack for a few years and work in a series of dead-end jobs. He ended up becoming a war correspondent by accident and proved very successful in that endeavour. As has been the experience of some readers, a wrong turn on an otherwise uneventful day leads us into the realm of the unexpected and the dramatic. Somebody’s serious business then becomes our serious business, and we are sucked deeper into events not of our making. That is how Cyrus is sucked into this suspenseful ninety-day vortex.
CBP: The story weaves an amazing tale that is suspenseful and broad in its geographic scope. How much of Cyrus’s journey was mapped out personally by your own travels?
Sam: One of the rules of good writing is that you write about things with which you are familiar. I have been privileged to travel to diverse places around the world. In Ninety Days, Cyrus does travel quite a bit. I must say I have travelled to about 90% of the places that Cyrus has been.
CBP: What is Cyrus really searching for in his life? Does he know?
Sam: Like most people in this life, Cyrus is searching for something intangible. He is not even aware that he is searching and uses constant travel as a means to assuage the pull of that quest. I leave it to readers to find out the outcome of what he is really searching for.
CBP: Air Rage picks up not long after Ninety Days concludes and continues the saga involving Cyrus and Liddy and everyone from Brooke Hall. In this book, China takes center stage. Why did you choose China?
Sam: Air Rage does focus quite a bit on the rising power of China. At this particular moment in time, the United States is by far the most powerful nation on the planet. The European Union has a plan in place to contest American power at every level over the next few years. One country, which is growing at breakneck speed economically, financially and in global influence, is China. In the next few years, everyone will have to pay attention whenever someone sniffs inside Zhongnanhai, the seat of Chinese power in Beijing. Having said all that, Air Rage deals with issues that are intriguing in nature concerning the President of the United States, the President of China and a major American Christian broadcaster.
CBP: You’ve said that you have a burden for the United States. What does that mean?
Sam: From 1776 to World War I, American power was exerted in regions like Mexico and the Philippines. During World War I, the American Expeditionary Force fought on European soil for the first time. America’s contribution in World War II was pivotal in the Allied powers winning that war. The post-war rebuilding of a shattered Europe would have been impossible without massive American resources.
Now, America dominates the world as its sole superpower. Herein lies the conundrum. No country has given of itself to the rest of the world like the United States. Yet, no country has been as misunderstood as the United States. It seems as if in this current time period, even when the United States has the best of intentions in its giving to the rest of the world of its human resources and wealth, there is a suspicion that a hidden agenda is at work. The primary burden I carry concerning the United States is that men and women of influence in Washington, D.C. will tire of all this anti-Americanism, circle the wagons and adopt a creeping isolationist policy towards the rest of the world. By doing so, America would give up her global leadership by default, and this would mark the beginning of the wane of American power on the world stage. It is therefore important that intercessors pray that God’s purposes, plans and agenda concerning the United States will be fully fulfilled.