The book is available at Amazon, Kindle or direct through www.jo-calman.com at paperback £9.99 and eBook £2.99.
John said: “Viktor is based on a true story set in the early 1980s at the height of the Cold War.
“The main character, Viktor, is a Soviet KGB officer, but he didn’t choose to be one. He is sent with his family to Washington in the USA ostensibly to head up a Soviet government office for outreach to friendship societies and to organise cultural exchanges, but in truth his job is to find a way to defeat the US before it has a chance to launch a final nuclear attack on Russia.
“I met ‘Viktor’ several times, always in Moscow, while I was travelling in a previous life. He was a friend of a friend, a quiet and polite man with a warm sense of humour and a sharp intellect.
“I liked him; he passed away a while ago. Before he died, Viktor discussed telling the story of his time and work in America with my friend in Moscow, Casey J Smith (both Viktor and Casey J Smith are pseudonyms, by the way).
“Sadly, no progress was made while Viktor was alive. Casey approached me to help as I had heard some of the story from Viktor himself and more of it from Casey. We decided to write it, but as a novel rather than an historical text. Viktor would have preferred a movie, and maybe it will happen one day.
“The book is appealing because it combines the ever-intriguing subject of espionage with the human voyage of discovery. Viktor and his family get to know and understand the enemy, and to understand their own culture and system from a distance. They are and always will be loyal Russians, Soviet citizens, but they have open minds. The result is a warm and engaging story of courage and ingenuity, morality, and of the eternal quest for understanding.
“Viktor, although written from a Soviet perspective, does not take sides. It isn’t a polemic on either capitalism or communism, but for obvious reasons it does contain comments on both systems and ideologies. It is a human story.”
John added: “I have written other novels, all solo efforts which in comparison to collaborations are an absolute walk in the park.
“Writing a pre-determined story with someone else is three times as hard. Because Casey is in Moscow and I am in Sussex and travel was banned, most of our debate and deliberation was done on Zoom or by email. It was a long process.
“The story starts in Moscow with a secret late-night meeting in the Kremlin between Brezhnev (leader of the Soviet Union) the head of the KGB, the Foreign Minister and the Defence Minister.
“The meeting concludes that the US under Ronald Reagan is highly likely to launch a devastating nuclear attack on the Soviet Union or at least start a war that they all know the Soviet Union cannot win.
“Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB, is sent away to mount an intelligence operation to determine how and when the US will strike and to find a way to prevent the attack, or at least retaliate. This intelligence operation was codenamed ‘VRYaN’, often incorrectly referred to as Operation RYAN. VRYaN is a Russian acronym for ‘Sudden Nuclear Missile Attack’, so not subtle!”