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Interview: John Knoerle, Author of A Despicable Profession: Book Two of the American Spy Trilogy

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Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1949 and migrating to California with his family in the 1960s, John Knoerle has worked as a stand-up comic, a voiceover actor and a radio reporter.  

Recent works to Mr. Knoerle’s name are plenty, including: the screenplay for Quiet Fire, which starred Karen Black and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, and the stage play The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, an LA Time’s Critics Choice. John Knoerle has also worked as a writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

Adding to his list of accomplishments are his novels, Crystal Meth Cowboys, which was published in 2003, and optioned by Fox TV; and The Violin Player, winner of the Mayhaven Award for Fiction. Most recently Knoerle has been working on an amazing-sounding spy series, The American Spy Trilogy, two of which are available. Book One, A Pure Double Cross, was released in 2008.  Book Two of the American Spy Trilogy is titled A Despicable Profession.

Mr. Knoerle can be found at his website: Blue Steel Press.  Be sure to visit for an eye-popping array of excerpts, info and so much more!.

Please tell us a bit about your book, A Despicable Profession: Book Two of the American Spy Trilogy – characters, plot, etc.

Happy to. Here’s a brief synopsis:

May, 1946. America is basking in hard-won peace and prosperity. The OSS has been disbanded, CIA does not yet exist. Rumors swirl about the Red Army massing tanks along the Elbe in East Germany.

Former OSS agent Hal Schroeder gets an offer from Global Commerce LTD to be a trade rep in Berlin. He flies to New York to meet his new boss. Hal’s jaw drops when former OSS Chief Wild Bill Donovan strides in. Schroeder, who survived perilous duty behind German lines, says he is no longer interested in being a spy. General Donovan assures him that’s not part of his job description.
Hal comes to doubt that when he meets his immediate superior in Berlin. It’s Victor Jacobson, the case officer who sent him on repeated suicide missions in WWII.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

General Wild Bill Donovan, the legendary head of the OSS during World War II. A decorated hero in World War I, he was a man of action whose motto was ‘try anything.’ He would have tales to tell.

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc., that help set your “writing mood”?

My favorite writing haunt is Club Lucky, a great old Chicago restaurant and bar. I sit on the barstool nearest to the front window, order a Stoli martini with a twist, and set to work. I write by hand in a wirebound notebook like you used at school. I have written the better part of five novels there.

What are you reading right now?

Harlot’s Ghost by Norman Mailer. Now and forever. It’s a heavy going, and 1100 pages!

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Anything by Raymond Chandler and John Cheever. I cite dead authors because they have stood the test of time. Sad to say many authors I admired as a young man didn’t hold up when I read them again.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please describe a perfect meal – including menu and those present.

My wife Judie and I host an annual Superbowl party for our friends and neighbors. We cook up cold weather comfort foods – Yankee pot roast, chicken and dumplings, scalloped potatoes made with real Velveeta!

Great fun.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

Tennis, cooking and long walks through the many neighborhoods of Chicago.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I have always fancied London. Or a charming English hamlet, maybe.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be?

Raymond Chandler, though he only wrote six novels. All his books are good, but three of them – The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, and The Long Goodbye – are superb.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

An Office marathon starring Steve Carrel will keep me on the couch for hours.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Illegitimus non carborundum est.” Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

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