Perfect Shot: A Thriller (Special Agent Alexandra Martel) by Steven Urszenyi
Interview with Steve Urszenyi + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
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Perfect Shot: A Thriller
A former Army sniper must fall back on her Special Ops skills when a friend’s death uncovers a global nuclear threat, in Steve Urszenyi’s Perfect Shot, the first in an electrifying new series featuring Special Agent Alexandra Martel.
Special Agent Alexandra Martel has put her days on the battlefield behind her. Charming and disarming, relentless and lethal, she earned a reputation as one of the most renowned and decorated Army snipers in the service before stepping away. But when Alex, now an FBI special agent on loan to Interpol, learns that an old friend, an MI5 officer, has been killed under mysterious circumstances, she’s pulled back into the dangerous world she left behind: a world where some people fear her, some want to recruit her, and everyone seems to want her dead.
Following a trail of clues left behind by the dead woman, Alex pieces together a terrifying conspiracy that only escalates when a nuclear warhead goes missing. Dodging death at every turn, she reluctantly joins forces with a CIA officer, but he has plans of his own for her—and will stop at nothing to achieve them.
Chasing the truth through the streets of London and bustling Turkish markets to the underbelly of Paris, Alex is unrelenting in her pursuit of justice. But as the clock ticks down and the world edges closer to doom, she must fall back on her Special Ops skills to stop the unthinkable. She thought her life as a sniper was over—but with stakes this high, she must use whatever means necessary to render the world safe.
You can purchase Perfect Shot at the following retailers: Amazon & MacMillian Publishers.
Perfect Shot is available in hardbackback, ebook, and audiobook through your favorite bookstore or website!
Interview with Steve Urszenyi, Author of Perfect Shot
Perfect Shot is set in London, Paris, and Turkey. What is your relationship with those locations? What kind of research did you have to do to make them come alive on the page?
There are also scenes set in The Hague, Arnhem, and Moscow! I did a lot of traveling via Google Maps and many travel websites and YouTube videos in the early stages of writing Perfect Shot. Thank goodness for the internet! But then, when it came time to polish the manuscript, I traveled in person to all the locations except Adana, Turkey, and Moscow. I was going to go to Moscow, but literally, as I was researching airfares, some schmuck decided to invade Ukraine, and that trip went out the window.
Before writing Perfect Shot, I had been to Paris and London. I love big cities. I’m drawn to their history, and I love the dynamic currents of their present. I am also attracted to the underbelly of big cities—or any place—because that’s where things happen that the vast majority of the public doesn’t get to see.
As a paramedic for more than thirty years, I got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of my own big city, Toronto. When I started my career as a twenty-year-old, I had never imagined the things that happen below the polite surface of my hometown.
Perfect Shot centers on former Army sniper—and now Special Agent—Alexandra Martel. How did your background as a paramedic and tactical medic with the Ontario Provincial Police play a role in building her character?
Alex is a character who’s been brewing in my mind for several years now. And over those years, she has been shaped by my experiences as a paramedic and a police tactical medic in different ways.
I instilled her backstory with bits of my own to lend her some authenticity so that some of what she thinks and says are things I would think and might say.
For instance, before she was a sniper, she was a combat medic, so like me, she knows what it’s like to save—or not save—the life of someone you’ve been feverishly working on. That, and I incorporate police and combat tactical scenes into my story that are more fully realized because I’ve experienced what it’s like to hot-load on and off a hovering helicopter or otherwise done some of the things—but by no means all of them—that Alex does in Perfect Shot.
Perfect Shot has been called “an electrifying new series” in the thriller genre. What writers have been role models for you as you break into the publishing world?
There are multiple levels to this question. Regarding role models who have inspired my love of the thriller genre, I credit Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and Nelson DeMille, all of whom infused me with awe. Ludlum and Clancy for showing me the potential of a thriller—how it could simultaneously move, excite, and inspire me. DeMille showed me in writing his John Corey novels that a character could be so animated and full of, well, character.
But in terms of professional role models, I would say my good friend Simon Gervais (whom I only met at my first ThrillerFest outing to New York in 2018) taught me to be patient and helped me understand that the world of traditional publishing is built around the long game.
He encouraged me to keep going and keep working on my craft and showed me that, just as in any professional endeavor, networking and relationships with other writers and people in the business are essential.
Patience was the most challenging thing to master; it still is!
When you aren’t reading and writing thrillers, you like to travel on your Harley-Davidson. How long have you been riding motorcycles? What do you love about that mode of travel?
I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was twelve. I spent a summer in the Seventies in Hungary, and some cousins taught me how to ride. I don’t even know the motorbike brand, but it was probably a 50cc bike. I fell in love with riding and shifting through the gears. It was a blast!
I am still filled with that same sense of immense pleasure when I ride my Harley and climb up through the gears all these years later. I can’t explain it. There’s something about cruising through the mountains or taking a twisty road beside a river that is so soothing.
My wife and I have ridden throughout the United States, from mountains to deserts, big cities, and small towns—Nashville, Key West, Las Vegas, and places almost too small to have a name.
I hope I’ll never be too old to ride my Harley!
A bit of an adventurer, you also like to take photos. Share a favorite photo with us, and tell us what you love about capturing “stories” in an image
I’ve been doing photography since I was pretty young. I mean, these days, every toddler has a fifteen-hundred-dollar iPhone with a camera, but in the olden days, you had to have an actual camera, and my parents bought me my first Kodak Instamatic when I was probably ten or eleven.
My dad was an excellent photographer, and if it’s true that you can inherit an eye for something, then that’s where I got mine.
A few years ago, we did a safari to Tanzania. It’s a fantastic country, and we were fortunate to have seen all that we saw. However, the elephant and giraffe pictures I am sending are among my most memorable because the subjects are so beautiful, graceful, and iconic.
I took some great pics of lions, cheetahs, and leopards, but that elephant and Masai giraffe are among my favorites.
While mine aren’t in the same league as great photographers like Franz Lanting, Marina Cano, or Paul Nicklen, I like to get out and shoot when I can. And I’m always trying to find ways to elevate my game.
What are you working on now?
I turned in the second book in the Alex Martel series a few months back. So, naturally, I’m now writing Book 3!
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
The thriller writing community is a very supportive bunch. Get involved and attend a conference like ThrillerFest to hone your craft and network with fellow scribes. But if there were one piece of advice I would offer to would-be authors, it’s this: take classes, attend seminars, listen to the experts, but be selective about what advice you take to heart.
The best advice I ever received was simply this: if you want to write, write!
Author Pet Corner!
Talking about my life with dogs would take an entire article all by itself, but suffice it to say, I love dogs! I have been privileged to have had five beautiful dogs, two of which were search and rescue canines, and one was a little Jack Russell Terrier with tons of personality.
My last search dog was named Radar, and he was simply an amazing creature, as most working dogs are. We couldn’t have asked for a better canine family member, either. He was just the happiest and friendliest fellow. Our JRT was named Lady. She was a little dynamo, but mostly, she was glad to be Radar’s little sister.
We have been without dogs since Lady crossed the Rainbow Bridge almost ten years ago. I’m hoping that at some point in the future, we’ll have the time to devote to a new canine companion in our home!
I’m so sorry for your losses, but what beautiful dogs! My horse Radar approves.
Steve Urszenyi — Author of Perfect Shot
Steve Urszenyi served for over thirty years as a paramedic in Toronto and as a tactical medic (TRU/SWAT, CBRNE, HUSAR, and public order unit) with the Ontario Provincial Police. He is an expert in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE/WMD) incident response.
Most recently, Steve was the commander of the Ontario Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT), the province of Ontario’s disaster medical response and all-hazards incident management team.
Steve is the recipient of the Governor General of Canada EMS Exemplary Service Medal and Bar in recognition of his more than thirty years of distinguished service and career accomplishments.
Since he was young, Steve nurtured a love for writing, but he also felt a need to serve the public as a front-line first responder. Throughout his career, his fondness for storytelling never wavered. He cultivates his decades of experience in emergency response and tactical operations to write authentic and gripping stories that thrill readers.
Steve and his wife Lynne love international travel and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle across North America, especially through the Rocky Mountains and the American Southwest’s always-changing landscapes.
They have two grown children and have had several dogs, including Steve’s former search and rescue dogs, K9 Timber and K9 Radar.
Steve is an avid photographer and outdoorsman who loves hiking, camping, canoeing, and exploring the wilderness.