I recently reviewed The Confessions of Gabriel Ash by Lee Polevoi, calling it “Powerful, heart-pounding, and engaging … a must-read Cold War spy novel and political thriller you won’t be able to put down.” In this interview, Lee talks about his new novel and his writing career, and offers advice to aspiring writers.
Q Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing?
A I’m a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and have lived in New England, San Francisco, New Orleans, and San Diego. My wife and I also lived for nearly two years in Cuenca, Ecuador, prior to the pandemic. I’ve worked as a zookeeper, screenwriter, temp office worker, and freelance business writer.
I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing. This grows out of a fascination with language, its properties and potential, and the work of a handful of deeply influential authors, including Robert Stone, Thomas McGuane, and John Banville, among many others. My first novel, The Moon in Deep Winter, was published in 2008, and I regularly review books for the online publication, Highbrow Magazine.
Q What inspired you to write your book?
A In The Confessions of Gabriel Ash, I wanted to explore what happens when a high-profile character becomes embroiled in scandal and intrigue, largely as a result of his own hubris. It was my intention to portray this character (Gabriel Ash, a UN diplomat for a East European communist nation) at the height of his career and the rather sensational events that lead to his downfall.
Q What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A Aside from hopefully enjoying the experience of reading The Confessions of Gabriel Ash, I’d like readers to reflect on the theme, pride goeth before a fall.
Q What drew you into this particular genre?
A I’m a big fan of well-written political literary thrillers, including, most prominently The Untouchable by John Banville. I’ve also been intrigued by the murky undercurrents generated by decades of Cold War animosity. Part of the fun was creating a unique voice (from his confinement in a medieval castle, Gabriel Ash recounts the story of his downfall) that draws readers in and keeps them turning the page.
Q If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
A I guess I’d sit the title character down and ask him point-blank, “How long can you play a role you don’t believe in?” and “Did you think you could keep living the high life and chasing women, without suffering any consequences?” The answers Gabriel Ash would give at the outset of the novel and at its conclusion might best describe his journey throughout the story.
Q What social media sites have been most helpful in developing your readership?
A Both Facebook and Instagram have been very useful in boosting awareness of my novel’s imminent publication. Social media is a great way of spreading the word to people who might truly enjoy The Confessions of Gabriel Ash. Reviews are already appearing on Goodreads.
Q What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
A First of all, understand that writing a novel requires a great deal of time and discipline. It means foregoing some social events, eliminating procrastination, and making a commitment to see the thing through. (The same principle holds for writing short stories.) Also, it’s important to read as widely and deeply as possible. You can learn a great deal about the craft of writing through a close reading of a favorite author’s work.
Q What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
A Hard to say. Several ideas are germinating just beneath the surface, waiting for the right moment to bloom into a full-fledged work of fiction.
Visit leepolevoi.com to learn more about The Confessions of Gabriel Ash by visiting leepolevoi.com. Follow Lee at www.facebook.com/leepolevoiauthor and www.instagram.com/leepolevoiauthor/.