What is your experience with the setting of the book?
Most of the action in the book takes place in Los Angeles, although the heroes travel to other places: Moscow, Kiev, New York, Maui, etc. I’ve been to all of them and I have lived in LA for the past 29 years. I’ve chosen LA as the primary setting because I am well familiar with it and that allowed for more authentic descriptions of places and people.
What are some of the local culture nuances you describe in the book that you want readers to pick up on, and why are they important to the region and/or story?
LA is a massive urban sprawl, a collection of distinct neighborhoods with very different cultures. Venice, Brentwood and Monterey Park are not just different cities, they can be almost different countries. It’s a place of great diversity and the multi-ethnic characters of the book reflect this. It is still largely a car-centered city and the heroes of the book don’t do much walking, they get around by car. LA is also a place of certain anonymity, people in cars don’t interact as much – the two main characters are in a way loners disconnected from others.
Most of the LA action takes place on the Westside (Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu). These are more expensive parts of the city. This wealth and sense of entitlement is a background to the complaint by the Russian protagonist General Nemzhov that the Americans benefited at the expense of his countrymen.
What are three things from the story that a reader should try or see when visiting the region?
From the LA places in the book, I would suggest visiting the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica (one of few LA places where masses of people mingle on the street), visiting beautiful UCLA campus, and driving up the PCH through Malibu.
When is the best time of year to visit? Are there any unique festivals or holidays that are specific to the region when a reader should pack your book and take a trip there?
I don’t think there is a bad time to visit LA, it’s blessed with a good weather much of the year. If your main attraction is the ocean, I would probably suggest September: crowds disperse but it’s still quite warm and you can swim in the ocean. October brings some rain (yes, it does rain in LA – but not much). It can also be a good time to use LA as your base for driving north (Santa Barbara, Cambria, Big Sur) or south (Laguna Beach, San Diego).