Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peter Senese Discusses THE DEN OF THE ASSASSIN

1. 'The Den Of The Assassin' is a real-world story of the geopolitical realities society faces today. You accurately cover with reader-friendly acumen very complex topics including the global financial
markets, global political and military instabilities, modern-day biological, chemical, and cyber-warfare, and issues evolving around global-citizenship and communication. How much research was dedicated into creating 'The Den Of The Assassin'?

Writing primarily in historical fiction requires a writer such as myself the need to pay great attention to the presentation of substantial fact in the context of the story being crafted. 'The Den of the Assassin', similar to each of my historical fiction novels, is steep in heavy research. I spend a great deal of time studying various subject matter to the point that I become confident I can take a heavily complex issue and present it in a highly technical, easy to understand, and entertaining manner without losing the complexity of the issues being presented.

Conducting the type of research required for one of my novels takes time, particularly since the multiple issues I address and write about are complex and sometimes the necessary information I am seeking is not so easily accessible.

Combining the fact that my stories always have multiple intriguing plot-lines weaving throughout the fiber of the characters' movements and that my reader-audience typically is highly educated, sophisticated, and quite knowledgeable it is critical that I present accurate, current, and meaningful information - foundations, if you will - in order to create the necessary platforms for my characters' to stand on. In 'The Den of the Assassin', I spent a substantial amount of time researching the complex and fascinating issues that are presented; however, I was also able to draw upon my own deep knowledge base and understanding.

2. Wall Street appears to be a central theme for many of your writings. Why is this?
I view Wall Street as the cradle of America, and one of the most fascinating places in the entire world. Many individuals do not realize just how important a role Wall Street had during the birth of our nation. For example, Federal Hall, which is directly across from the still-mighty New York Stock Exchange, was our great nation's first capitol and the location were General George Washington was inaugurated as America's first president. It is the location where the United States 'Bill of Rights' was first presented to Congress - and a place of many fascinating national and local political secrets! And of course, it is, and should remain the symbolic center of capitalism.

Whenever I put my foot on the 'Street', I feel the raw energy and determination that was instilled from our nation's Founding Fathers. Today, I see this attitude in many individuals who work in the financial markets, and equally viewed, that very same determination that makes a New Yorker a New Yorker. With its deep national and local New York history, Wall Street is in itself a living, breathing character that is hard to replicate anywhere, so it is only natural for me to include in my writing a place that is so unique, historic, current, and personally attached to me.

3. In 'The Den Of The Assassin' America and the free-world face very real and possibly cataclysmic possibilities at the hands of individuals hell-bent on destroying our way of life. How real are the threats of a biological, chemical, or cyber-attack on our nation's soil?

Very real. Modern warfare has changed dramatically with each passing year. And as scientists continue to place great energy and resources into the science of genetic engineering, our reality is that the capacity for a biological attack has made giant strides toward becoming a serious reality. Chemical warfare, and all of its evil possibilities will also continue to increase. However, what appears to be most concerning is the rapidly expanding threats of cyber-warfare. Countries such as China, North Korea, and Russia have extensive, well-trained cyber-warfare military divisions working endlessly to create and develop deployment systems capable of delivering malicious software code and viruses capable of attacking and shutting down a computer network system. Juxtaposing the concern associated with the ever-expanding ability of each of these and other nations' abilities to engage in a new type of potentially crippling warfare - cyber-warfare - and attack our nation's electronic infrastructure is the fact that as a nation, the United States has become reliant on foreign citizens living abroad to fulfill a variety of computer-design and software needs. So in reality we have, in a certain sense, given away the keys to our nation's central nervous system.

For example, one of the more commonly accepted cyber-warfare strategies involves the use of 'Botnets'. Botnets or 'Bot Networks' are made up of vast numbers of compromised computers that have been infected with malicious code, and can be remotely-controlled through commands sent via the Internet. Hundreds or thousands of these infected computers can operate in concert to distribute spam, viruses, or other malicious code. Because Botnet attacks are decentralized and do not typically have a cyber-warfare command center it is near impossible to defend against, while also having the capacity to easily go viral - and spread from one computer network to another at any given time. Imagine if a Botnet is initiated on a worldwide social network such as Facebook.

With hundreds of millions of users capable of downloading a malicious virus capable of shutting down or destroying for example our electric power grid or our telecommunication lines or our banking system, which is not unrealistic, any nation facing this type of threat would have extraordinary challenges on their hands.

4. What risks are associated with our nation's reliance upon foreign countries and their citizens to design and build many of the computer operating systems and software that we use today?

The risks are very straight-forward: we have given the keys to our nation's nervous system - our electronic arteries - without carefully vetting who in fact we have given the keys to. For example, how do we really know who a company located in Eastern Europe that is designing an online video game for a U.S. based company has actually hired to complete software that will be utilized in the United States? We don't. Nor do we know if and what dormant malicious viruses they have installed. This is a very serious problem, and one that will manifest itself as individuals become more connected via the Internet.

5. Russia?

An extraordinarily dangerous country no matter what title Putin gives himself within the pseudo-democracy he controls. Combining the former KGB officers monger-like mentality with the facts that prior to 1991 the Soviet's Bioprepreat had an anticipated 200,000 scientist working in their illegal biological and chemical warfare division - a unit that surely has not disappeared in the wake of genetic advancement, Russia's extraordinary oil reserves, and similar to China, a great desire to remove the U.S. currency as the world's primary currency ... Russia has as it has in the past, its own agenda, and that agenda typically does not line up with the intended policies of the United States.

6. The Arab Spring?

It was one of the most spectacular uprisings by an oppressed people at any given time in history. Clearly, the remarkable use of the Internet to educate, communicate, and mobilize others in the name of freedom and liberty accomplished what outside governments spent incredible resources unsuccessfully doing: planting sustainable seeds of democracy. I think we're only seeing the beginning of true reform in the Middle East and I anticipate that democracy and freedom's light will shine through the oppressive darkness created by dictators.

7. North Korea?
North Korea remains a serious problem in part due to its close relationship to China, a psychopathic ruler who has propped himself to be viewed as a God by the country's citizens, substantial warfare capability coupled with its close proximity to South Korea. In its delicate balance, the world's leading countries continue to be in a quagmire on how to deal with North Korea. Though China has come out on occasion condemning North Korea's actions or policies, in my view, Beijing's still very deeply connected to North Korea and the rest of the world knows it. Economic sanctions utilized to protest that country’s various policies have not truly worked because at the end of the day, the troll has such complete power over the nation's citizens that those who suffer most are the nation's neediest citizens.

And this gives the troll even more power because he is able to point to the west and say to his loyal followers that their nation's difficulties are due to the policies of foreign governments intent to take over North Korea.

Which has lead to that country developing a very dangerous arsenal of tactical weapon capabilities - including the creation of a cyber-warfare division that has been in existence for nearly 25 years - when they created the 'Kim II Political Military University', which is also known as the 'secret college' that enrolls over 100 world-class computer hackers, who after graduation, are assigned to the 'General Bureau of Reconnaissance of the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces'.

And with South Korea its neighbor, any type of military conflict with North Korea will cause massive loss of life - so in a certain sense, and due to China's protective eye, the world can do very little other than hope that perhaps we see something similar to the Arab Spring.

8. China?

China is deeply connected to the world economy, which is a safeguard against modern warfare. However, in my opinion two of China's primary political and economic agendas to which they appear to be hell-bent on achieving include removing the U.S. dollar as the world currency standard, and, they're continued investment and creation of infrastructure into Africa. Their activity in Africa, though extremely helpful for many African nations, appears to be taking place in order to mobilize the nation-states of Africa for China's own purposes. Previously, these nations initially became highly instable after the Cold War presumably ended. Combining these goals with China's extreme military build-up - for example their creation of anti-aircraft carrier missiles possibly capable of taking out a nuclear-powered aircraft is in fact changing the way the United States military and in particular our navy prepares for future combat. And China has formed the ‘Blue Army': a very unique team of cyber-warfare computer experts that makes the North Korean's 'Kim II Political Military University' look like a Montessori school for young children. We're talking about a very serious threat, though the size and capability of the Blue Army is not fully understood. What we do know is that they do exist and that they have tremendous resources at their disposal so they may implement their project goals and expand their capabilities.

9. In 'The Den Of The Assassin', the story's protagonist is a Wall Street banker who unexpectedly gets caught in the cross-hairs of a psychopathic former Soviet Union war monger's sight and evil intent to cause grave destruction against America and the free world. Why did you choose to use a banker as the story's protagonist?
 There are many reasons why Tyler Boxter's profession is that of an investment banker. First, the complex story that is 'The Den Of The Assassin' has a very realistic and fungible set of scenarios that require the insight and expertise of a Wall Street insider. And as much as this story takes place on capitalism's Wall Street, the little-often spoken political side of Wall Street was a critical symbol that underscored the antagonist's intent: to destroy all things American and our way of living, including our grasp on liberty and capitalism. And in my mind, Wall Street was America's cradle for both our democratic and capitalistic way of life. So inevitably the story's protagonist needed to be a part of the street - and so Tyler Boxter - the most unsuspecting of individuals soon realizes that the Wall Street he knows is 'The Den Of The Assassin'.

10. How vulnerable are our financial markets to a cyber-attack and how would other nations, including Russia or China benefit if our national grid and computer infrastructure were compromised?

I think any country which had a partial or complete shutdown due to an unspoken declaration of cyber-war would have serious and long-ranging difficulties. Our nation's various national defense agencies spend enormous resources and place mind-boggling effort into ensuring that we detect and isolate cyber-attacks before they spread and cause great damage to our way of living. These individuals are truly our nation's unseen, unspoken, and undetected heroes. And their important role in our nation's homeland defense continues to grow. As for other nations and their potential benefits of having our economy under attack, I think the one nation that would benefit most from this is China, particularly since China desires to remove the U.S. Dollar from the world stage.

11.You romance Wall Street's political history. Can you provide some insight about your love affair with the physical and metaphorical 'Wall Street'?

Before Wall Street was the world's financial market epicenter, it was the nation's first capitol. One of the most important words ever spoken by our nation's first president, the remarkable hero President George Washington, was that 'liberty was an experiment entrusted to the American people'. Those words were said by Washington the night of his inauguration, on April 30th, 1789. Over the years we have witnessed how liberty and freedom changed and expanded in our nation from a time when only white land owners had the right to vote to where we are today ... and our role in spreading liberty throughout the world. And that - liberty - is what Wall Street is about, and it is a romantic, enticing, and most beautiful of concepts and ideals.

12. New York City is clearly a character in its own right in 'The Den Of The Assassin'. Can you provide us with some insight on your New York City?

I think I can speak endlessly about New York City in the most positive of positive ways. I consider myself a New Yorker no matter where in the world I am. I believe New York has its own heart. It is a living, breathing, feeling, and thinking entity unlike any other place in the world. Though not perfect - the New York City I know is one that celebrates our differences, and that, particularly with millions and millions of people living here, is remarkable.

13. Ten words to describe 'The Den Of The Assassin'?

Fast-paced, eye-opening, educational, intriguing, magnetic, accurate, entertaining, current, historical, human.

14. Can you share a personal story about 'The Den Of The Assassin'?

Tragically, during the time of my research dealing with Russia's oligarch system, Paul Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes Magazine Russia was murdered gangland-style in Moscow. Paul died on July 9th, 2004: he was a great journalist and a great family man who was trying to bring to light the massive corruption of the new Russian nation due to the misdeeds of the oligarch system. There were also 21 presidents of banks in and around Moscow alone that were murdered during the time I was researching and writing this story.
15. Did you feel there was a risk associated with releasing 'The Den Of The Assassin'?

16. What's next for Peter Thomas Senese?

I am busy. In the short-term future I will finally release 'Chasing The Cyclone', while also releasing 'The Den Of The Assassin' in both paperback and multiple-language E-book. 'Cloning Christ' will be released later this year in multiple-languages on E-book, and the sequel to 'The Den Of The Assassin', titled 'Predator's Games' will be released at the end of the year. So from a writing standpoint, I'm busy. I am also involved in some very important volunteer work in the area of child abduction prevention, including the upcoming worldwide release of a research project that I am highly involved with, and, seeking additional abduction prevention laws at a national level. Then there are certain film and television projects that I am substantially involved with that are extremely exciting. But most of all, I'm a father to a really great young son and a partner to an amazing woman - so my life is full, content, and meaningful. It is dramatically different than the times to which I was unexpectedly forced to chase the cyclone!
17. You volunteer a great deal of time supporting literacy programs for kids and are a visible international child abduction prevention activist. Why do you advocate for children's interests the way you do?

Reading and writing changed my life forever in the most positive of ways, so how could I not help support literacy programs or simply take the time on occasion and help a child understand the wonderment of reading - that's one of my favorite things to do - to spend time with one or a few children - and get into their heads - because somehow, I connect with them - and they eventually get it – they understand that reading is the key to everything in life. And as for my work in international child abduction prevention - well, read 'Chasing The Cyclone'.

18. Who did you dedicate 'The Den Of The Assassin' to?

Similar to each of my books, I write for one person: my son