Landslide, the debut thriller by Adam Sikes
Author Interview + Book and Author Info!
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International Arms—Private Military Companies—Corruption at Every Turn
U.S. Marine veteran Mason Hackett moved to London to start his life over, and he’s done his best to convince himself that what happened fifteen years ago doesn’t matter—the people he killed, the men he lost, the lives he ruined. But when Mason sees the face of a dead friend flash on a television screen and then receives a mysterious email referencing a CIA operation gone bad, he can no longer ignore his inner demons.
Driven by loyalty and a need to uncover the truth, Mason launches on a perilous journey from the Czech Republic to Romania toward the war-torn separatist region in eastern Ukraine to honor a fifteen-year-old promise. The answers he seeks—the fate of a friend and his connection to the underworld of international arms dealers and defense corporations—throw Mason into the cauldron of a covert war where no one can be trusted.
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Interview with Adam Sikes, author of Landslide
Landslide, your debut thriller, starts in London, and travels to the Czech Republic and Romania. What drew you to the international settings?
I love traveling, I love being overseas, and I love books with international settings. I enjoy reading books set in NYC or the Rockies or a small town in Maine, but if you were to look at my bookshelf in my house, most books take place in foreign countries.
Coupled with the fact that I spent over half of my time with the military and with CIA living and working overseas, and have considered living abroad again, I think crafting an international spy thriller made perfect sense.
What should readers know about Mason Hackett, main character of Landslide?
Mason Hackett is not perfect and he makes mistakes, just like real people, and I developed him intentionally to be like that. I’ve had the pleasure of serving alongside some of this nation’s top special operators and intelligence officers, and everyone makes mistakes, acts with minimal information, and sometimes chooses the wrong direction … it may not happen often, but it does. Therefore, I wanted Mason to reflect this reality.
In my opinion, what makes a person the best is not that they do everything perfectly; it’s how they react and bounce back from mistakes and adversity. They know how to adapt and shift and make things happen—to win, even if it’s ugly. So, when you read Landslide and watch Mason make mistakes and or react in the moment, it’s because that’s what we do when faced with uncertainty, particularly in high-stress situations.
Tell us about your road to publication with Landslide:
Although Landslide is my debut novel, it’s not my first manuscript.
The first novel I wrote took me two years and I learned a tremendous amount—but thankfully, that novel will never be published (at least how it was originally written). Looking at it now, that book was atrocious LOL.
Nevertheless, I took what I learned, used the contacts I had made, and wrote another novel. I did much better this go around, I think, and that manuscript landed me my agent. But that book didn’t get picked up for publication, either.
That’s when I started writing Landslide, and my agent really pushed me to write the things I’d been holding back—to tap into the hard and uncomfortable experiences I had as a US Marine and then as a CIA paramilitary officer. Working through that—drilling into the emotions and the feelings and the thoughts I knew about firsthand—gave Landslide the texture it now has. And I believe that’s why it got picked up by Oceanview Publishing.
From when I started writing my first book to Landslide coming out, it was a seven-year journey for me. And even with all the rejection and criticism (sometimes constructive, sometimes not), I loved every minute of it. Writing is what I think about falling asleep and what I wake up looking forward to every day.
How does your experience working for the CIA and the US Marines impact your writing?
I rely on my experiences with CIA and in the Marines immensely, but I also have to be cautious in what I write about.
I spent over twenty-five years in national security, both in uniform and then as a paramilitary officer doing covert action. I started in the mid-1990s with the Bosnian conflict, and over the years served in Afghanistan, Iraq, elsewhere in the Middle East, East Africa, Europe and Eastern Europe, and Russia. I’ve been in numerous wars and conflict zones, and I’ve worked in the back alleys as well as the high-end locales of major cities conducting intelligence operations.
Consequently, I have an immense amount of experiences to draw upon and have met all kinds of fascinating people to inform my characters.
Yet, everything I write must undergo a formal review by CIA to ensure I haven’t disclosed any classified information or written about something sensitive pertaining to current operations. Therefore, I am very careful to make sure my stories are fictional and products of my imagination, while also trying to impart that realism and credibility readers crave.
Even though my novels are inspired by true events and real people, I’ve changed them enough to ensure I still adhere to my oath to properly handle classified information and protect the men, women, and operations that are still ongoing.
What are you working on now?
My next novel, The Underhanded, comes out in April 2024, so I am working diligently to promote the book and prepare for the launch. But I am also writing the sequel to Landslide, as well as preparing for my next project. I always have ideas percolating, and one day, I hope I have enough time to work on them all.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
If you’re serious about being a writer, treat it like a job, because it is. You might not be getting paid yet, you might not have an agent or a publisher yet, but you need to approach writing as if you are. Protect your time to write, read as much as you can (that’s part of being a writer, too—reading), be open to criticism, and write, write, write—every day.
Adam Sikes, Author of Landslide
His forthcoming novel, The Underhanded, is set for release in April 2024. He also co-authored Open Skies: My Life as Afghanistan’s First Female Pilot.
Prior to taking up the pen, Adam served for over twenty-five years in US national security and is a former paramilitary officer with the CIA and a US Marine Corps combat veteran. He has lived and operated in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and Russia.
Wherever he went, his books and notepads came with him, and his experiences now inform his writing. Adam holds an M.A. in History from Georgetown University and resides in Southern California.