“A wakeup call, in more ways than one” — A conversation with Alan N. Levy

The Tenth Plague, by Alan N. Levy, will be published by Chickadee Prince Books on September 15, 2019 in trade paperback and Kindle.  

AUDERE MAGAZINE: You have begun writing novels at a late age — how did you come to novel-writing now? Did it interest you as a younger man?

LEVY: I attended the University of Illinois and obtained my Master’s in Statistics in 1966. In order to help pay for college, I had federal loans which were paid, in full, in the ten years following my graduation. Sometimes, those payments were a real challenge to mail, but I paid the loans in full and on time. Later, in perhaps 1977, I read an article that reported only about three percent of those loans were being paid back, and I was so outraged that I wrote a scathing letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune. It was published, and every once in a while over the next several years, I’d submit something to the Tribune. I realized that writing something, even if it’s not published, was a superb way to get things off my chest, and in 1990 I began writing my first novel. Frankly, it was disjointed, but I’ve come a long way since then. A hobby has gradually become my passion. I still write to get things off my chest, and it’s a much better practice than taking meds.

Your columns indicate a really strong view about Iran – why did you decide to write about this in a novel?

A column may help people and address a subject fleetingly, while a novel takes them into the very soul of the issues at hand. If your heart rate quickens when you’re immersed in the plot, if you flinch when an explosion occurs on paper, you’re living through the experience the author is portraying. In the case of our dealings with Iran, I don’t believe we comprehend the depth of their conviction, and my novel displays their relentless determination to attack Israel and the United States. It’s designed to be a wakeup call, in more ways than one.

Your book is speculative fiction about a future that includes a nuclear-armed Iran. Is this how you see the world’s future? 

When we entered into the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” with Iran, that nation was essentially instructed to “chill” in terms of nuclear technological development for a period of ten years, and we released billions of dollars in return for that promise. Even though President Trump pulled us back out of that agreement, we cannot ask Iran to return the previously-seized assets. So the current administration’s position seems clearly too little, too late. It’s simply very easy now for Iran to move into the nuclear arena, and they don’t necessarily have to do it by purchasing thousands of centrifuges. They can work a deal with North Korea … dollars for food in return for nuclear expertise, or they can wait ten years and then develop nuclear weapons on their own. My novel anticipates they have done so, and they are preparing to launch against Iran’s mortal enemies. We truly believe we can negotiate with anyone, including Jihadists and those who strap explosives to their children. All those discussions will fail, because we fail to appreciate the determination of those in Tehran.

Your column puts you squarely in the iconoclastic conservative column – is there anything you like about the Democrats, as a party? And as people (do you break bread with any liberals)?

Yes, I’m conservative in many ways, and all my relatives in Chicago are liberal Democrats. We do break bread together once in a while, and the experience doesn’t seem to do harm to any of us. I have a few far more liberal views, when it comes to social welfare and education programs, and health care. I’m also opposed to spending billions of dollars on less than one-fifth of a wall at the border with Mexico. If the Mongols could figure out it was easier to invade China by studying The Great Wall and marched around it, the average Mexican will intuitively know to head for gaps in ours. I believe one should take a liberal or conservative stance, or one of neutrality, based solely on the particular issue at hand. People at either end on the spectrum, who rubber-stamp everything in a consistent and unflinching way, worry me.

What should Israel’s role be in the struggle against Iran?

Israelis have only one choice … attack in defense of their nation. To wait until Iran unleashes nuclear weapons is absurd, and that’s the core of the decisions indicated in my novel.

Some of your columns leave the impression that you would not be heartbroken to see NATO dismantled. Do you really think this would make America stronger? 

I’m not particularly in favor of dismantling NATO, but I do believe we must reconsider whether we are prepared, for a third time, to come to the aid of Western European nations. In World War II, between May and June of 1940 alone, 1.8 million French soldiers surrendered to the Nazis rather than fight to defend their nation. We seriously must decide if it is worth more American lives to come, once again, to the aid of France and fight, side by side, with Germany against the Russians, if that’s the next explosive situation on that continent. I say we should not, and yes, it clearly makes America stronger to not expend lives and billions of dollars in another European land war.

What are you writing these days?

I write from an acorn, a single thought or issue from which a plot emanates. My most recent thought now has roots, and I’m watching it grow into what will be my next novel. Five pages of text to date, and a plot blossoming in my head.

Alan N. Levy, a political columnist at Audere and blogger at The Times of Israel, is also the author of The Tenth Plague, an acclaimed geo-political thriller that focuses on a future with a nuclear-armed Iran, coming in September from Chickadee Prince Books. The book is available right now for pre-order in paperback at your local bookstore, from Amazon and B&N, and also on Kindle.