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By Ethan Cross

Leo J. Maloney has lived a life that’s as intriguing as any thriller hero ever written.  He’s been a black ops contractor for a clandestine government agency, a classic car broker, a private eye, an actor, a director, and a film producer.  And now he’s branching out once again into the world of novels with TERMINATION ORDERS, a book described as “An outstanding thriller that rings with authenticity.”

In this explosive novel of world-class suspense, former Black Ops veteran Leo J. Maloney draws from his dramatic experiences and introduces readers to the character of Dan Morgan, a retired CIA Black Ops agent who must return to duty to thwart a lethal international conspiracy.

Once a trained killer for the CIA, Dan Morgan has built a new life for himself. But when he receives a desperate plea from his former Black Ops partner – reportedly killed in a foreign battle zone – he flies to help. It should be a routine mission, extracting a human asset from the region.

But it’s not routine; it’s an ambush. Now Morgan is running for his life, holding crucial evidence. With his contacts dead and family in danger, Morgan must take on full-scale conspiracy in the highest echelons of a vast global network that plays by its own rules – when it suits them.

You are a Black Ops veteran with over 30 years experience in the field. What led you from the clandestine world of espionage to becoming a writer?

My long-time Black Ops Partner and I had periodically talked about writing a book together; however, he died of cancer before we could do it. Upon retiring and reflecting on all the different experiences I had and the many parts of the world I had been in, I decided to share parts of my life with my family and several close friends. As they learned more about my secretive life they thought it would make for a fascinating story and kept encouraging me to write a book. After about eight years I decided I would write a book as a fiction but base it on personal experiences and knowledge. I found that I had a knack for mixing facts with fiction and could create what I feel is a very good action thriller novel.

You’ve had some incredibly fascinating life experiences, including acting and being a detective as well as your Black Ops involvement. Which of your many careers have you found the most fulfilling and why?

I would have to say my career in Black Ops. I always felt that what I did had a meaningful purpose and hopefully would make a difference. It was satisfying to feel the work I did made my country a better and safer place. At the time, my goal was to make the world a more secure place for my daughter. It was the perfect job for me because once given an assignment I was given the flexibility and resources to carry out the mission by any means necessary. I liked the fact that no two assignments were alike, so I was always challenged. My work brought me to many different areas of the world that the average person would never visit. It was also an adrenaline rush to be in life-or-death situations; it took a lot of skill but also luck to survive.

Can you share any interesting stories or anecdotes from your time as an operative (and don’t say, “Yes, but I’d have to kill you”)?

Missions weren’t always all field work. During down time, my partner and I attended numerous elegant affairs and met many powerful and influential people. In Monaco, we went to the Formula One Grand Prix and frequented the casinos. We ate at fine restaurants (although in the field we sometimes survived on bugs). Not to mention all the beautiful women we met along the way.

Obviously, you draw upon your life experiences for your books, but did you still conduct other types of research for Termination Orders?

Definitely. This is true especially for the chapters of the book set in Afghanistan, where local customs, terminology for clothing, dialects, specific buildings, food, etc. were all researched from books and, especially, news articles, to best give the reader a sense of being there.

Was there anything particularly interesting that you discovered during your research that didn’t make it into the novel or something that you’d like to highlight?

The scope of the story didn’t really allow for a deep exploration of the issues of Afghanistan, nor of the many problems with the military’s reliance on security contractors—even though the book touches on these issues, it ultimately isn’t a political book. On a lighter note, I discovered that the Kabul Zoo apparently houses the only pig in all of Afghanistan, and it was quarantined back during the swine flu scare in 2009.

What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books/authors and who has had the greatest influence upon your own work?

I just finished reading a draft of a manuscript written by a friend of mine who is a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department. I recently read DAMAGE CONTROL by John Gilstrap. I’m also a fan of Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, and Ian Fleming, who probably had the most influence on my own work.

What’s something that you’ve learned about the publishing business that you weren’t expecting?

When you think you are done, you’re not. Completing a manuscript is just the beginning. Beyond writing the book, the author is much more involved with promotion and publicity, because of changes in the publishing business and technology. I’ve needed to develop my own web site, Facebook fan page, and use twitter. This is not easy for someone in my generation … it will be second nature for younger writers. Also, my publishing company suggested I contract the help of a digital publicist, have a book trailer produced, and hire a local publicist. I’ve purchased promotional items (hats and pens with book logo) for events, and I’m planning a book launch party at the Boston Public Library. I didn’t realize the importance of attending events like ThrillerFest, Bouchercon, the New England Crime Bake, etc., to network with other writers and readers to promote myself and my books.

Do you have any advice for aspiring (or struggling) writers out there?

Make sure your book is well written and has commercial appeal. If you are a first-time author, attending ThrillerFest is a good investment – there are excellent writing seminars as well as talks on many other related topics. When you are done, bring it to two independent editors and get their opinions. Research and find the best possible agent for your type of book and send them a well-written query letter. If you don’t have an agent, research publishing companies that deal with your genre and determine which editor within the company would be best suited for your book and try to contact them. If you truly feel your book deserves to be “out there,” don’t give up on your dream.

TERMINATION ORDERS is billed as the first in a new series. Can we get a sneak peek at what’s to come for Dan Morgan?

Silent Assassin finds Dan Morgan two years later and his life has changed drastically. Pulled out of retirement, he is back working in Black Ops, only this time working for Task Force Sigma, which is part of a shadowy non-governmental organization with seemingly unlimited resources and an unknown agenda hidden even from its own members. The world, meanwhile, is being wracked by dire and apparently random terrorist attacks which have claimed the lives of hundreds already. All that the authorities are certain of is that there will be a next attack, and it’s up to Morgan to find out who’s behind the attacks and to stop them.


While Leo J. Maloney was serving in the army he was recruited by a US government clandestine agency and received highly specialized Black Ops training. Among his assignments were asset extraction, espionage, and numerous missions still too secret to divulge. The author lives in the Boston area. This is his debut novel.

To learn more about Leo, please visit his website.

Ethan Cross
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