Author Interview with Adam LeBor


  • How long have you been writing?

I have been a journalist for thirty years and I published my first non-fiction book in 1997. That year I started to seriously write fiction, and produced the early drafts of what would eventually become The Budapest Protocol, my first novel, which was published in 2009.

  • What is your favourite genre to write?

Thrillers and crime.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

 I quite like the idea of writing a sprawling family saga. I always enjoy the interaction between my characters and try to keep the cast fairly small and as inter-connected as possible. A family saga would be a more intense version of that.

 Please tell us about your book.

The Reykjavik Assignment is the third volume of a trilogy featuring Yael Azoulay, a former Mossad agent who is the covert negotiator for the United Nations secretary-general. Yael now has her deadliest mission yet: to broker a meeting between the presidents of the United States and Iran. Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend Eli is on her trail, with orders to bring her back to Tel-Aviv, by force if necessary. And part of Yael is still drawn to him, like a moth to a flame…

  • Which character was your favourite, and why? Which character was your least favourite, and why?

Yael is my favourite character. She is determined, even ruthless when necessary, but also vulnerable and very human. She has a complex back-story and remains haunted by some events from her past, events which shape her present. My least favourite – I won’t say the name because it would be a plot spoiler – who turns out to be a traitor and who takes several lives before he meets a bloody end.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The Reykjavik Assignment is the third volume in a trilogy, so it was a challenge to make each of the books work as a stand-alone, for readers coming to the series for the first time, but also not have too much back story for readers who have read the other volumes.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I try to be at my desk by around 9.30 to 10.00am and work through until lunchtime. I switch off the internet while I am writing and I tell myself (not always successfully) not to have a sneaky email check on my telephone. I drink a lot of tea and also break around 11.30am for some dark chocolate and a biscuit. An apple too, if I am feeling virtuous. I like to write to music, jazz usually, or Harold Budd or Brian Eno, but nothing with vocals because then I cannot concentrate. Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is a great way to start the day.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

About a year – that also includes time for journalism, teaching and other projects.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

 I read the manuscript out loud to myself, slowly. That gives me a sense of the rhythm of the sentences and the weight of the words.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many instalments do you have planned?

The Reykjavik Assignment is volume three in a trilogy. The previous books are The Washington Stratagem and The Geneva Option. I am not planning any more adventures for Yael at this stage, but the way is absolutely open for her return.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

 Be prepared for an immense amount of rejection and a steep learning curve. Have plenty of self-belief, a core of steel and a coating of teflon. Bounce back from obstacles. Persevere. You will get there.

  •  Why should everyone read your book?

It’s an exciting, multi-layered story that will make you think about how the world really works.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

George Orwell, John Reed (author of Ten Days That Shook The World, about the Russian revolution) and the author of the Book of Esther, in the Bible.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

 Firstly, I wanted to tell an engrossing, exciting story. But I also wanted to explore the hidden world of secret diplomacy and make people think about the world in which we live.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I am working on a new detective series set in Budapest, where I have lived, on and off, for more than twenty years. The Yael Azoulay series was very global and international, based around the United Nations. The new series will be much more local, drilling deep into the hidden, secret sides of the Hungarian capital. The twist is that the protagonist is a Gypsy. Life’s tough for a Gypsy cop – his fellow Gypsies don’t trust him because he is a policeman. And his police colleagues don’t trust him because he is a Gypsy. It’s not a classic police procedural, as he operates off-the-books, and will be a mix of crime and thriller.




Publication Date: November 3rd 2016

Price: £18.99

A lone agent. A terrifying enemy. UN negotiator
Yael Azoulay uncovers a people-trafficking ring with
links to Iran… and Washington.

 ‘A strikingly well-informed, smartly plotted thriller.’ DAILY MAIL

‘Gripping and atmospheric.’ CHARLES CUMMING

‘A page-turning thriller.’ IRISH TIMES

International thriller from renowned political journalist Adam LeBor, taking us behind the scenes in the corridors of power.

UN covert negotiator, Yael Azoulay, has been sent to Reykjavik to broker a secret meeting between US President Freshwater and the Iranian president. Both parties want the violence to stop, but Yael soon realises that powerful enemies are pulling the strings. Enemies for whom peace means an end to their lucrative profit streams.

In this gripping, intelligent thriller, Adam LeBor uses insights gained from twenty-five years of frontline reporting to show us who really has the upper hand in the international game of politics.

The Author

Adam LeBor lives in Budapest and writes for the Economist, Newsweek, New York Times, The Times and other publications. He is the author of a number of nonfiction books, including the Orwell Prize shortlisted Hitler’s Secret Bankers.

Speak Your Mind