Interview with Anthony R. Howard

Folks are talking and blogging about The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox . Your book has been compared many times to the hit series TV “24”. Do you agree with your audience? What do you think of such comments and how do they make you feel?
I take these comments as a compliment. I haven’t seen this years season of 24, so I can’t fully interpret some of the commentary, however The Invisible Enemy was created and copywritten in the library of congress far before “24” was even aired. I’ve seen other seasons and it’s a great show. To be compared to it is an honor. I keep the action moving in my writing to entertain, and keep readers on the edge of their seats. I also feel it makes the show more interesting when you talk about current events like cyber warfare and international treaties and regulations, just as 24 does. On the other hand, I feel my work is different from 24 ‘s Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran because they are confined to the rules of Hollywood. I am not. For instance, in the world of Hollywood, you generally don’t take time out to explain how real technology works. It’s very complex in some cases, and many TV watchers would get lost. So in turn Hollywood will make up completely fake technologies, false terms and tech words and phrases that don’t mean anything or make any sense, just to simplify things. I don’t do that. I explain the technology in a way that the readers can enjoy and understand, then during the action I teach how the technology is used - for good or for evil. Hollywood also has to be extremely politically correct when it comes to matters of politics. 24 decided to make up a completely fictional counter terrorist entity “CTU”, so they wouldn’t have to worry about causing ripples with any agency. It dulls the story to some, especially folks who work within that realm. I do not have to be politically correcting in my writing. I can simply speak on my experiences, and let the reader make the choice of whether this entity or this technology is a good thing or bad thing. Instead of introducing fictional organizations, I introduce real agencies that do exist, but no one has ever heard of because the organizations were extremely classified for so long. Hollywood generally won’t show these entities for a variety of reasons. One of them being it would take too long to explain the organization, it’s function, its politics, and why it exits. I’ve found a way to show the reader these dynamics through the action in the book and through the dialogue. This excites a lot of readers and makes my book different. In Hollywood it’s easier to take an agency people already know, or make up your own rules along the way like “CTU”. Another difference is Hollywood is generally going to conform to stereotypical roles to make things familiar. The term is sometimes called “bounded rationality”. It’s a behavioral theory term which basically means “the human brain will only process what it understands.” This is of course does not affect how real life works. In real life because a person or country doesn’t know about a technology or doesn’t have a technology, doesn’t make the technology not real. So I can break all of Hollywood’s rules and I like it. It creates different deeper plotline, mysterious, non-stereotypical characters, and really intriguing themes. Hollywood also can not kill the “star”, and the audience knows it. So you begin each show of 24 knowing that Jack Bauer, the hero, is going to without a doubt escape any peril he is in. We just enjoy watching it happen. He becomes immortal in a way, because every man, woman, and child watching 24 knows that jack is not going to die. He is also is able to take on armies of men armed with machine guns against his lone pistol. These types of things don’t go on in The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox. All of the characters are mortal. Someone the reader thinks is a main character can die in an instant as in real life. Anything can happen. I want the reader on the edge of his or her seat at all times. My plots are purposefully unpredictable. I want the reader engaged until the very last page. I don’t want the “okay I know he survives I just want to see how,” type of environment. I also don’t use the typical Hollywood model of protagonist versus Antagonist. The lines of these wargames are completely blurred. Without knowing it the reader might find him or herself aligning with a character they once perceived as an antagonist. One book review said it best “It was also fascinating how the author turns the antagonist into the protagonist without even the reader realizing it until a very powerful and unexpected scene I'll never forget.” I like those kind of reviews because it lets me know I’m doing my job as a writer.
From the reviews on Barnes and Nobles and elsewhere, it seems you’ve drawn not only the spy novel reading crowd, but you’ve pulled from other genre’s. How have you managed to touch readers who traditionally do not read spy novels?
Because from what the readers tell me it’s a great book and an easy read. It’s filled with action, suspense, mystique, intrigue, deception, mystery, romance and even fellowship. The action starts in the beginning and grabs even the folks who don’t read that much. The book is also written for most ages, including junior high school students, yet it challenges each reader. There are adult themes that the younger readers may not pick up on, but in contrast, I present some younger themes some adults might not pick up on. Certain characters represent certain motifs as well. Adults who have not read a book since high school have picked up the Invisible Enemy and read it from cover to cover. Then they wanted to know more. I was fortunately able to entertain and educate by picking a topic the Hollywood has not touched before. No story like this exists anywhere. I checked as I’m a spy novel fan myself. Spy movies have been done. Spy novels have been written, but never a technology thriller exposing the real threats of America and what goes on behind the scenes. No story has posed the hard questions to the reader, then answered them. No story dives deep into how spies are trained, recruited, how the Dept of Defense will exterminate a serious threat, or how lines must be crossed and rights are violated in order to ensure the safety of Americans. The reader even realizes how back-door decisions made decades ago by the government can come back to haunt us, and allies can become enemies overnight. It’s cool to talk about the black and the white areas. I bring the reader into the gray area, where ethics, the constitution, privacy laws, and due process can fall by the wayside when it’s time to knuckle down.
From reading the book you clearly have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Dept of Defense, Homeland Security, the CIA, even the FBI and covert technology that really hasn’t been exposed to the civilian global market as yet. How do you kn
I have a deep background with the Dept of Defense and technology. Currently, I’m an advanced systems consultant for the Defense, Intelligence and Civilian space. I’ve been an advanced solutions consultant for over 12 years. I’ve worked on projects for desert storm and quite a few other programs worldwide that have saved American lives. I’ve won several awards and several case studies of my solutions have been published across the Information Technology industry. I’ve done a sizeable amount of work for the U.S. Defense Sector, Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security. I even relocated overseas to Amsterdam, The Netherlands for more than a year to solve technology issues for American based companies. This is in addition to the years of research and personal interviews I’ve done. I didn’t get my information from an encyclopedia, I got it from job experience.
I heard rumblings from your audience and the blogs that you have a sequel to The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox hidden somewhere. Can you speak to that? Is it true?
It’s true. There is a sequel written and it’s available to readers. It will not be in stores like Barnes and Nobles until late 2011 or 2012 timeframe. I placed the sequel available for immediate order on my website because my readers asked for it, and usually I’m inclined to honor their request because I love them and I hope they love me back. Right now a reader, hopefully one who has finished reading the first book can go to and get the sequel, The Invisible Enemy II: Vendetta. There is even a kindle version of it as well. Most folks who read the first book want the sequel. The sequel is a fascinating read as well because I don’t have to “set the table” or introduce characters like I did in the first book. In the first book, The invisible Enemy: Black Fox, in chapter 2, I slow the action down to give some background on the spies and explanations of technology the reader is likely not familiar with. This is critical because all of my key characters are created with several dimensions. I will never build a house without laying a strong foundation. The foundation is layed in the beginning of The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox, right before the action picks up again in chapter 3. In the sequel, it’s also one roller coaster ride that you don’t want to get off of. I remember one particular critic who was the hardest judge of books I have ever met in my entire life. When he said he couldn’t put it down, I knew I had created something special to honor the first book. In the Invisible Enemy II: Vendetta, though I get a lot of complements on the cover of the book, my focus was certainly what is inside of it. The sequel takes you into a deeper, grittier level of the game. Here you meet mercenaries, aristocrats, secret societies and realize their alarming role in the political infrastructure and the spy game. This book is not for the light hearted either. There are some surprises that will knock your socks off. It’s the perfect sequel to Black Fox, which is a fascinating thriller all by itself. In my opinion, I hope my readers will agree with me, you can’t fully enjoy The Invisible Enemy II: Vendetta without reading The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox. In book signings and events, when readers ask for the sequel, I always ask if they have read the first book. If they say no, I have them get both books and urgently request they read Black Fox first, so they will understand the context and importance of what they are reading in Vendetta.
Published 2013-09-13.
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Books by This Author

The Invisible Enemy II: Vendetta
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 98,320. Language: English. Published: July 22, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
First they were operatives. Now its personal. In this sequel, recent events have thrown the American military into a state of emergency and American enemies are planning their assault. The fate of the free world is in the hands of covert CIA assassins as they face-off against a deadly set of merciless enemy secret agents. These CIA agents are the last link between liberty and a nuclear holocaust.
The Invisible Enemy: Black Fox
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,500. Language: English. Published: July 22, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
(5.00 from 1 review)
There is a secret that will bring America to it’s knees. When reporter Dorian Valentine makes a shocking discovery, America is cast to the brink of a nuclear war. In addition, Russia has planted a network of brutally efficient secret agents on U.S. soil. Trained from birth to act as Americans, they kill on a moments notice, causing political mayhem, striking fear into the heart of the Pentagon.