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Interview: John Knoerle, Author of The Proxy Assassin, Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy

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It was in the early ’70s that John Knoerle began his creative endeavor by becoming a member of the DeLuxe Radio Theatre, which is a comedy troupe in Santa Barbara. Mr. Knoerle later moved to LA where he continued his comedy career by doing stand-up comedy, opening for the likes of Jay Leno and Robin Williams.

In addition to having a funny bone, John Knoerle also has a great talent for writing.  He went on to write the screenplay Quiet Fire, which starred Karen Black, as well as the stage play The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, which went on to become a Los Angeles Time’s Critic’s Choice. John Knoerle also worked as a staff writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.

In 1996, Mr. Knoerle moved to Chicago with his wife Judie. His first novel, Crystal Meth Cowboys, was optioned by Fox TV and his second novel, The Violin Player, won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction.

John Knoerle has written a spy trilogy consisting of the first novel, A Pure Double Cross, the second novel, A Despicable Profession, and his latest novel, The Proxy Assassin, Book Three of the American Spy Trilogy.

Readers can learn more about John Knoerle and his work by visiting the following links:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Goodreads

Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?

It’s the conclusion of the American Spy Trilogy I’ve been working on the last ten years, it spans the years 1945 to 1948.

Someone wrote a review on Amazon that I agree with. “The Proxy Assassin is not so much a spy novel as it is a novel about a young man who happens to be a spy.”

That’s true. While there is plenty of action and suspense, that is only part of the larger story arc–how a boy embittered by war becomes a man at peace with himself.

In Book Three we get to rub elbows with several notable figures: Wild Bill Donovan, legendary head of the OSS during WWII, J. Edgar Hoover and William King Harvey, hell-raising former FBI agent who joined the CIA. And a Romanian Princess, a direct descendant of Vlad Tepes Draculea, who has a surprising connection to the highest levels of power at the brand new CIA.

How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?

Proxy assassin refers to a singular phenomenon in the world of Cold War espionage. In the world of politics, global business or even organized crime, if a junior member of the team is observed fraternizing with a member of the opposition, the junior member can say he was simply trolling for scuttlebutt. He might be doubted, chastised, even punished. Unlikely he would be summarily executed, however, as often happened to straying members of the Soviet CHEKA, which was something like our State Department, FBI and CIA all rolled into one tightly-knuckled fist.

I had creative control of the cover and used the same great artist, Kathleen Bennett, who created the first two covers.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?

“Trust no one’ is what they preach at spy school. But it’s unalloyed bullshit, unless you fancy living in a cave with a crate of K-rations and a Browning automatic. At the end of the day you have to trust somebody.

I decided I would trust Bill Harvey. It had something to do with his fondness for food and drink. Hitler was a strict vegetarian who didn’t imbibe. Harvey would go to his final reward with a pork chop in one hand and a highball in the other. And I admire that in a person.”

What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?

We had a large party recently where I cooked up a storm and gave away free copies of my books. Then I sent my friends and neighbors off to spread the word through Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, et al.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I like to hang out at Club Lucky here in Chi-town, enjoy a martini and write by hand in a notebook. We just shot the promo video at the bar there. Plus, they sell my books behind the bar!

What are some ways that you like to relax?

Chicago is a fantastic walking town, especially if you enjoy architecture as I do. I’m blessed with a wife who shares both passions.

What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?

Am I permitted to mention myself??

And I do believe the most consistently masterful American writer, whose name you rarely hear nowadays, was John Cheever.

What author would you most like to meet and why?

I would have loved to have a couple with William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. They had a table in the back room at The Musso and Frank Grill.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?

No upcoming projects as of now. I’m beat down to the ankles after finishing the American Spy Trilogy. I know it comes easily to some authors, but for me writing–crisp writing with proper attention to detail–is exhausting!

What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?

I had a radio production company, Sound Concepts, for almost thirty years. My partner and I voiced, wrote and produced hundreds of radio spots for everyone from the US Army to Todd’s Car Stereo.

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