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The Sirens of Suspense



Charles Brokaw is a pseudonym for an author, academic, and college educator living in the Midwest.  He’s had a rich and varied life, and is fascinated by history, human accomplishment, and archeology.  He began the book The Atlantis Code after seeing an article in a scholarly journal.  The piece featured a satellite photo, and pointed out ruins visible in Spain which matched closely the description of Atlantis relayed in the writings of Plato.  Because the ruins were located in a famous national park, he was certain they would never be explored.  That got him thinking about just what treasures are buried beneath the earth.  The result was THE ATLANTIS CODE. His most recent book, THE ORACLE CODE was published March 5, 2013.

Find Charles on Facebook & THE ORACLE CODE on Amazon

item1 Constructing the Villain item1

One of the greatest challenges in writing a book like The Oracle Code is the character of the villain. When a story such as this takes place on an international scale, the major players can’t just be locals; you need to have global players. But then that of course begs the question, “What country are the villains going to be from?”

It has always fascinated me how countries tend to vilify one another depending on the current political climate. America has had quite a rocky history with Russia and the Middle East. But the feelings these histories engender isn’t just facilitated by the news. It makes its way into entertainment (Air Force One, Iron Man, True Lies, 24, James Bond, etc.) These countries are temporarily our enemies in the real world, so they become our enemies in pop culture too. Suddenly, on a grand scale, the American public starts to associate these countries with villains.

I decided to incorporate both Russians and Afghanis as the villains in The Oracle Code. The central villain is a dangerous Russian government assassin on a mission from the president to overtake Thomas Lourdes and his latest archaeological discovery. Taliban drug lords and militia also make an appearance. Although the reasons why I chose villains from these two countries are not necessarily because it might seem like “the obvious choice” based on popular culture as of late—the reasons were actually very different.



I spent quite a bit of time in Afghanistan doing historical research for The Oracle Code on the extraordinary history that has come through that country. Many ancient trade routes came through the area of Herat, where the beginning of the story takes place, and the artifacts found there are from some of the oldest civilizations in global history. After spending weeks in Afghanistan, here were my conclusions: 1) the people are incredibly intelligent and kind and 2) the food is delicious.

A few Taliban attacks do happen to our hero in the book, but that issue is a reality not only for the archaeologists working in Afghanistan, but also for the local people as well. Rather, in The Oracle Code, I wanted to communicate the wonder and beauty of the county as well as its people. The main character’s love interest, Leyla, is an Afghani woman who, while maintaining a deep respect for her country’s culture by adorning traditional garb for a Muslim woman, is a feminist and works in human rights. She has a deep respect for her country, even though she might not agree with all of its laws. However, she is working to make her country a better place. This was the kind of person I met in Afghanistan and the type of person Westerners need to know exists over there.



In The Oracle Code, there is an internal battle going on within Russia between those who believe in restoring Russia to its great former power and communist government during the time of the cold war, and then there are those who are jumping feet first into capitalism and won’t look back. This internal struggle is so deep, that it severs the relationships between family members— namely Anna, a young and brilliant reporter and her father, a powerful general and the Russian president’s right-hand man.

The dynamic between these two characters fascinated me—not necessarily because this struggle is actually the case in Russia, but because it struck me as not too far off from the state of affairs in our own country. It is just that the platforms are different. The internal battles and constant dissonance between our two political parties has never been stronger. While it’s a common nomenclature not to discuss politics over drinks, it is often such a strong dynamic among families and friends that it can hinder relationships, even when alcohol is involved.

Because of Russia’s history, and their geographical location in relation to the center of the action in The Oracle Code, it was the perfect country with which to describe this political and household interplay. As with Layla, I wrote the character of Anna—a strongly nationalistic Russian—though one who is opposed to Russia’s shortcomings and works toward a better nation.

As much thought goes into deciding who your villains will be as to who your heroes will not be, especially to be sensitive and respectful to the people of these countries who are worthy of the highest respect. With characters like Layla and Anna, I tried to communicate that it is not Russia or Afghanistan that is the villain. The villains are the people who happen to be from those countries. And we certainly have our own share of villainous people so we can’t gloat. Except there are also heroes from these countries as well, and their role is just as important in this story as well as on the global stage.




WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD VILLAIN? Tell us or ask Charles a question by commenting below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win an e-copy of THE ORALCLE CODE!


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