Mark O'Neill

Spy thriller author, creative entrepreneur, daydreamer

Self Publishing Success

A Russian Sophie Decker? It may well happen

female soldier

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As I write my books, I am always on the lookout for possible ways to spin off the series and create more new series. I did it by giving the Scorpion from The Renegade Spy his own spin-off series. Now, my latest Department 89 book has given me the idea of starting a new series with someone who would be the Russian equivalent of Sophie Decker.

It’s no secret that I enjoy writing stories about strong kick-ass women. I’ve always felt that women have received the short end of the stick when it comes to action and adventure thrillers (and even in the movies.) These things are always male-centric, with the woman merely there as eye-candy or, at best, a minor supporting role.

I aim to flip the coin by bringing female characters front and centre by making them the main protagonist.

When I was writing Ground Zero, I invented a character called Lieutenant Svetlana Kuznetsova. She’s a tough, hard-as-nails Russian FSB officer with a sense of loyalty, and what’s right and wrong. But at the same time, like Sophie Decker, Kuznetsova doesn’t suffer fools. And she especially doesn’t tolerate male chauvinism. She knows she has to work twice as hard as the men to prove herself.

With the situation in Russia and Ukraine at the moment, I thought it would be timely and interesting to bring out a Russian character. Someone who isn’t an unstable leader or a rich greedy oligarch. A good Russian.

I kind of picture someone like actress Jeri Ryan as Kuznetsova. When I am writing, I tend to think of an actor who would be ideal to play that person in a theoretical TV show. Then I model the dialogue and mannerisms of the fictional character around that person.

I have started outlining the first possible novel, with the working title “Son of Stalin.” I have three, possibly four other books in front of a Kuznetsova series right now. So this may not come to fruition until next year. But I am very excited at the possibilities of seeing where this series goes.

Picture of Mark O'Neill
Mark O'Neill is a bestselling award-winning self-published author of the Department 89 spy thriller series. He has also written two other series - The Scorpion and The Undertaker. His books have been translated into German and partly into Spanish. Mark lives in Germany with his wife and dog.

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