In the lead up to the release of Sandfire, I thought I’d interview my co-author Andrew Warren who created the intriguing character of Thomas Caine and made him the cool CIA operative he is today. It was a great experience working with Andrew on this Caine origins story. So I decided to ask him some questions on why he decided to explore Caine’s past with a series of standalone adventures.
AIDEN: What is the Caine Rapid Fire Series?
ANDREW: Caine Rapid Fire is a series of fast-paced, shorter books featuring betrayed assassin Thomas Caine. Each book packs a full size thriller in a bite sized package. Most readers have told me the Rapid Fire books are perfect to read in a sitting or two, so you can devour the action all at once. Or, if you prefer, there’s enough meat there to savor the story and characters at a more leisurely pace.
And since each book in the series is standalone, it’s also a great way to explore the far corners of Caine’s shadowy world… I plan to have Rapid Fire books set at different times in Caine’s life, as well as books featuring other characters from the Caine stories. We might see Rapid Fire books that focus on Jack Tyler, Mariko Murase… even Allan Bernato!
AIDEN: The latest book in the series is Sandfire. What does Caine get up to in this adventure?
ANDREW: In Sandfire, we follow Caine before his betrayal and exile, when he was a highly trained operative of the CIA’s Special Operations Group. Caine starts off investigating a missing CIA agent, who happens to be an old ally of his.
But what begins as a personal vendetta soon leads into a vast conspiracy, that plunges Caine into the war torn region of Yemen. Caine’s murdered friend was connected to a CIA plane that was shot down in the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert on the planet. Caine’s search for the missing plane and his friend’s killer exposes a shadowy operation known as SANDFIRE, that could plunge the entire region into war.
Like all the Rapid Fire books, it’s a fast moving thriller, filled with gun battles, double crosses, and exotic locales. But it also gives a readers a glimpse into Caine’s past, and some of the experiences that shaped him into the man he becomes in the later books. I had a blast working on it with you, and I think readers are going to love seeing this new side of Caine!
AIDEN: Why did you decide to open up the series to collaboration with other thriller authors?
ANDREW: There were a few reasons, honestly. First of all, I’m only one man, and I can only write so fast. Between the main Caine novels, the Rapid Fire series, and all the other projects I want to write, there’s just not enough time in the day. And besides, I’m not just a thriller author… I’m a fan as well. Collaborating with other authors likes yourself gives me the best of both worlds… I get help write a new Caine thriller, and I also get to be surprised and enjoy the action a bit myself.
I’m very protective of Caine, and the quality of these books will always be my priority. There’s only a select few people I would want to collaborate with. And in this case, I think the book turned out better than I could have hoped. Advance readers have already told me they love the story, the action, and the focus on Caine’s early years.
AIDEN: The Rapid Fire series jumps back and forth in time during Caine’s career with the CIA’s Special Operations Group. Why did you chose to do this?
ANDREW: Actually, that was originally the plan for the main Caine novels. My idea was that each Caine book would be self contained, and they would jump around in time, over Caine’s career. But then, the characters took on a life of their own! When Bernato escaped in book one, the seeds were planted… I knew Caine would never let that go. He would go to the ends of the earth to track down Bernato and all his corrupt allies. A conspiracy plot began that stretched over the first three books (and will continue in book 4).
So that was another reason to launch the Rapid Fire series… to give me a chance to explore. Those other time periods in Caine’s life, and jump around a bit.
AIDEN: With story locations including Yemen, China, Thailand, Russia, South Sudan and Japan, you have focused your on exotic locations that are sometimes unfamiliar to American and European readers. Why did you do this?
ANDREW: Well, travel has always been a big part of Caine… it was my trip to Japan that inspired Tokyo Black (although it took a few years for me to get it down on paper!) These books give me the chance to re-live some of the travel experiences that made an impression on me. Places I actually visited, like the Beijing hutong in Red Phoenix, or the Koi farm in Tokyo Black, formed vivid memories in my mind. And of course there are some locations that I find interesting, but I would never want to visit, like Siberia in Cold Kill.
I think the more you travel, the more you learn and grow. You meet different people, and get a different perspective of the world. Much like Caine, you find that things may not be as black and white as you once thought. The world is a fascinating place, and one thing I love about the thriller genre is it gives us a chance to explore and travel and go on adventures… all from the comfort and safety of our imagination.
AIDEN: Do you intend to write Rapid Fire stories that don’t feature Thomas Caine, but instead follow the lives of other major characters in your series, such as Jack Tyler, Mariko Murase or Rebecca Freeling?
AIDEN: You’ve often cited Ian Fleming and his James Bond novels as a huge influence on your writing. What particular elements of Fleming’s works have you adapted to the way you write Thomas Caine thrillers?
ANDREW: Fleming wrote during a time when people did not travel nearly as much as they do now. The exotic cities and countries he described, the food and wine Bond drank, the clothes he wore… these were glimpses into a life his readers could only dream of. And Fleming was a master at using tiny details to immerse his audience in the experience.
The effect is even more powerful today, in my opinion. When you read a Fleming novel now, you are transported to another place and time, and I find his books immersive and dream-like. I don’t think Caine is really much like Bond as a character. But Fleming’s writing absolutely influenced my style.
AIDEN: What is your favorite Fleming novel and why?
ANDREW: Oh man… that’s a tough one. Honestly, you could ask me that question five times, and get five different answers. But I’ll pick three: Casino Royale is the first, and deserves credit for introducing the world’s greatest super-spy, and its a tragic love story as well. Thunderball probably has the ultimate villainous plot, and has been copied numerous times. Finally, You Only Live Twice is a fascinating, almost surreal look at a shattered Bond seeking revenge in Japan… which obviously had a huge influence on me.
Discover more about Andrew Warren and his books at www.andrewwarrenbooks.com.