Interview With a WEbook Author - Robert Lance, Author of 'The Shadow Spy'


Back before the holiday period, we sat down with one of our WEbook authors, Robert Lance to have a chat with him about his new release The Shadow Spy - a break-away espionage novel, set in post-Soviet Russia. We were all absolutely hooked on this fast-paced title at WEbook HQ, and we're sure you'll love it too! 

So, without further ado, here's our interview with the brilliant Robert Lance...

WB: Hi Bob, thanks for sitting down with us today. You’ve been around on the site for some time now, since 2010 in fact. Could you tell us what brought you here initially, and what made you stay?

BL: Actually I misspelled the site I was looking for and WEbook popped up. It didn’t take me long to make a few friends and join in with the bitching sessions about mainstream agents and publishing houses. When I got that out of my system, I discovered that my writing never got picked up because I was too undisciplined, too naïve, and I was too full of myself. If I was going to get anywhere, I needed a complete makeover from top to bottom. I found the grooming I received on WEbook worked really well for me, and all I had to do was to apply what I’d learned to my writing habits.

WB: Previously you self-published a book entitled, Caesar’s Cat. How did the publication of that title compare to your WEbook experience?

BL: Apples and hand-grenades! Firstly, I paid for the publication of Ceasar’s Cat. But, I bought the Cadillac with a Volkswagen engine. Although I can’t say that I didn’t get what I paid for - I had a book – but a book without a platform to launch it from. I had zero guidance when it came to the creation of the book. And, other than distribution channels I had no marketing in front of me to move it off the shelf. As a self-publisher you can’t even get a book signing. I would have been better off wearing a sandwich board and selling them on street corners! 

The great thing about WEbook is you’ll get a real quick idea if your book has commercial traction. There are two vehicles to help you shape that novel you’re unsure about. PageToFame identifies the flaws you never even thought about - everything from grammar, structure, content, technical research, and on and on. Whereas the Projects are a good place to put your creation back in the hangar and give it wings to fly. Then of course, there is the community itself. I’m still astounded by the amount of time my WEbook friends invest into others.

WB: Could you expound on the publishing process at WEbook?

BL: Sure. The decision to pick a manuscript pretty much comes from the community itself, but that’s just for starters. I won’t reiterate what others have said, but everything gets spit polished. If you look at the monthly challenges you begin to get an idea. The staff don’t dictate the content or mess with your style, but they do ensure their name is going on a well crafted novel. What I also like is the marketing afterwards - now I can put my sandwich boards back in the garage! They SELL your books and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

WB: Your novel, The Shadow Spy, doesn’t fall into the typical espionage genre. What inspired you to go off the rails?

BL: Actually, I’m trying to put it back on the rails. The intelligence business is still personally risky for those with their feet on the ground. The field of operations doesn’t have Delta Force backups, situation rooms, com centers, or hyper toys to play with. People in the business are just as normal as any other American… almost. My MC reflects that point of view in a humorous way.

WB: You picked Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. What is particularly significant about that era to you?

BL: The melt down of the Russian economy wasn’t an accident and before the Soviet Union fell, the blueprint used was designed in Washington DC. Was it designed to fail? It was the biggest fire sale since the fall of the Roman Empire and the Russian people were swindled. There’s a big hole in that window of history and I decided I’d make something up to explain it.
I’m also a sucker for conspiracies, so I’ll throw this out: - You can’t have a global economy without socialization and governance. Who’s running the show? And how does it evolve without global prophets pulling the strings? The Shadow Spy series tips the lid off that conspiracy as it might have applied to Russia, and it should scare the hell out of my audience, because you never know who is next.

WB: We’re very excited to be publishing, The Shadow Spy. What else do you have in store for us?

BL: The sequel of course. I’m not a genre specific writer and, Lottery Rage, - which is a book about the upside down consequences of winning the lottery - is next in line for release. There are two common threads in just about everything I write. Firstly, there’s always a romance to spark the passion, and secondly you have to add humor to the conflict or theme. My object is to have my audience smile and laugh for weeks after they’ve read one of my books.

WB: We just have to ask this question - what was your reaction when you found out that WEbook wanted to publish, The Shadow Spy.

BL: I sorta went freakin’ primal and my monkey butt went airborne. My wife and neighbors had to call the fire department to bring me out of trees in my backyard. I wore the letters off my keyboard trying to get it ready. When it goes in the bookstore, I’m spray painting the water tower in the city I live in. Not real sure what I’ll write. Any ideas?    

WB: Perhaps a super-sized version of your cover? That'd get people talking! 
Thanks so much for chatting with us Bob!

Bob’s debut WEbook title, The Shadow Spy, is available to buy now in the WEbook store.

Read on below for an exclusive extract from, The Shadow Spy:

Blumel was an offensively arrogant buffoon who prided himself as ladies’ man. His dashing passes at the ladies in the steno pool earned him a few trips to sexual-awareness clinics which hardly registered with him. He had shed his leisure suits, but the disco swaggering gait was a permanent affliction which earned him the nickname Disco Bob.
I heard Disco Bob’s booming voice from his outer office. “Findley, get in here.”
I looked up and saw him posing in the doorframe. He looked like a cast member of Planet of the Apes II. His hair was slicked back with axle grease from a hairline too close to his bushy one-brow eyebrow. Even by East Coast Mafia standards, his hairdo was annoyingly exaggerated. The picture was completed with long arms and legs, and fat fingers that he proffered to me.
He said, “Come in, come in. You’re just the guy I need to talk to.”
He loped off to take his throne behind a custom desk of fine mahogany. He waved me to a seat and started talking before I had a chance to sit down. “How do you feel about the promotion I got for you? It’s a cushy job. Did you know I personally, by-name, requested you for the assignment?”
The flattering bullshit was a roll-my-eyes moment, and I concentrated hard not to do it.
He asked, “You know what’s going on in Russia, right?”
I ran the Soviet desk, and of course I knew what was happening. They were preparing for war as per usual. My posting to Leningrad was not a coincidence, not by a long shot.
Leningrad in particular was a gold-rush town fired with promises of vast opportunities to mine the decayed hulk that Russians called an economy. Every hustler with a dime in his pocket was going to Russia to cash in on the fire sale. Americans were late to join the bandwagon, but they were lined up waiting for State Department travel and business restrictions to loosen up.
One of my jobs at the EEB was to advise and oversee joint ventures and investments in Russia to insure they were transparent, aboveboard, and fair. The Russians artificially inflated the value of the ruble and erected trade barriers around their import policies. On the export side, more Russian tractors were plowing fields in Kansas than inside Russia. The trade policy was a giant ski jump, and all I could do was issue warnings. It took all of five minutes of my day to issue citations of caution to eager speculators looking for a quick buck.
Bob cleared his throat and croaked softly, “The World Bank is sending a delegation to Russia. They’re doing an exploration on some kind of assistance program for the Reds. It runs against the grain here, but you know that. We can’t prevent them because we can’t be seen as issuing directives to an international private bank.”
The World Bank, an international community chest that seeds goodwill across the globe by throwing huge amounts of cash at third- world underdeveloped countries, is anything but the charity it purports to be. It’s a private bank that sharks loans to countries that have no credit rating and are upside-down broke. The cheap loans have strings attached to bring these rogue barbarian states into the greater circle of global humanitarian behavior. For practical purposes, the World Bank is Uncle Vito making payday loans to homeless people from a back-alley dime-store sharking front while pretending to be the Salvation Army.
I hadn’t heard of any rumors that the World Bank was embarking on a rescue mission to prop up the Soviet regime. I knew they played a huge hand in Poland and were dabbling in other Soviet-bloc nations. Bob had a sly grin that I wondered about.
He said, “By chance, the World Bank has asked us for expertise in Soviet affairs. It’s a temporary assignment until the Bank comes up to speed. I immediately thought of you. How would you feel about moving uptown where you’ll power-lunch, get some sunlight, and check out the tellers?”
Bullshit. He had immediately thought of himself. Now I knew why he’d been dodging me. He wanted the job and spent a week trying to pry his way in. Notwithstanding the political and social clout I’d married into, the World Bank had a dress code and grooming standards.
“What about my assignment?” I asked.
“Still stands. This is a side project to earn brownie points. Just observe and advise. The Bank likes to splash money around, and you’ll be walking in high cotton. Consider it a working vacation.”
Blumel wasn’t fooling me. I saw Oscar all over the arrangement. The CIA was not about to allow a private bank to make deals with their arch rival without having someone in the bleachers. I was to be that guy.
I was originally scheduled to leave on my State Department assignment just in time for Halloween. Somewhere above my pay grade, a decision had been made to loan my services out to the World Bank. That idea caused some constipation, and my departure date was slipped to coincide with the World Bank expedition to Moscow.
I was being sent over to the Bank as a technical observer and adviser, with the understanding that I was not to spy on World Bank activities in Russia. I understood completely. I’d just observe and pass my observations to my bosses at the State Department.
My CIA handler had no illusions about the arrangement. The CIA was getting a box seat handed to them. Oscar’s shop was preparing its own plan that I wasn’t privy to... 

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