Dusko Doder is an award-winning journalist and author. He worked for the Washington Post as a reporter, foreign correspondent and editor. In 1984, Doder had a world beat on the death of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, much to the chagrin of the CIA which had strongly denied his report. He was the only western correspondent to interview the next Soviet leader, Konstantin Chernenko. The Washington Post nominated Doder for the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Moscow. He has written a number of non-fiction books including a best-selling biography of Mikhail Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin. The Firebird Affair is his first novel.
Welcome Dusko, could you please tell us something about why you decided to write fiction, after your outstanding career as a journalist?
I turned to fiction writing for fun. It took me a long time to get away from non-fiction – having been a reporter all my life and focusing on accurate information. The breakthrough came when I heard a Hollywood screen writer talk about his work on TV and insisting that “information is the enemy.” Indeed. Once I understood that, fiction writing became fun.
The Firebird Affair. Did you call upon your real-life experiences in framing the storyline?
Yes, my novel The Firebird Affair is very much reality based, except that characters and plot were all slightly (or not so slightly) altered. My protagonist is an ordinary man whose life was shattered when he became involved in an international conspiracy far above his head. With his wife dead, and rejected by his son, Todd Martin eventually regains his balance. But when a chance presents itself to find out how his wife died and to repair his relations with his son, Todd (now a middle aged man) embarks on an adventure even if he had to accept some help from a CIA man he intensely dislikes.
Who are the antagonists?
Antagonists in the novel are faceless: a US traitor, and KGB goons who were involved in his wife’s demise (even though they had no intentions of doing her harm).
How do you work on a story to bring the components like character and plot together into the final product?
I’m not sure I can explain my writing method. I just write—having only a vague outline of the plot.
What is the most successful thing you’ve done to market your book?
I’m very bad at promoting my work.
Here are a couple of quotes about the book:
“The Firebird Affair is a classic thriller that will satisfy those who hunger for the old days of Karla and Moscow Centre. It has a splendid cast of characters–CIA spies, Russian gangsters, and a winning American journalist for a hero–all set amidst the crumbling Soviet Union. This is a well-told, sinuous mystery.”
– David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post and best-selling author of Bloodmoney.
“In The Firebird Affair Doder lays bare the new Russia like no other writer. It’s a tale of spies, sex, power, intrigue and remorse and it speeds ahead like a troika at full gallop. Start it and there’s no stopping.”
– John Darnton, NYT bestselling author of Neanderthal and The Experiment
Dusko’s website is: http://www.duskododer.com/
The Firebird Affair is available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Firebird-Affair-ebook/dp/B005X0MY4C