Gary Born went from a career in international law to writing thrillers! His debut novel, The File, set to release on March 28, 2023, features a tenacious botany graduate student who stumbles upon classified WWII documents from while conducting research deep in the African jungle. After witnessing her father’s gruesome murder at the hands of Russian spies who are after the same intel, Sara escapes into the wilderness. What ensues is a fast-paced, relentless, and thrilling chase across Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. I caught up with Gary on BCB to talk about his inspiration, research, and more. Welcome, Gary!

BCB: How did having a background in international law shape the planning and execution of this novel?

Gary Born: One of the central themes of the novel involves secret Swiss bank accounts holding Nazi deposits from World War II. My practice in international law has involved both Swiss bank accounts and WWII assets, which provided vital background for this aspect of the thriller.
BCB: You tackle a lot of settings throughout the book. How do you do research the different settings and countries? Do you pull from your own personal travel experiences?

GB: I have traveled almost everywhere in the world, for both work and pleasure. I drew on hikes in Uganda and Congo, on road trips in the Sahara, travels in Italy, and many weeks in Zurich for the settings in the book. It is never easy to capture the heart and soul of a place in a few sentences, but these travels helped me along the way.

BCB: Sara is a 28 year old graduate student. Why did you decide to write a main character with significantly different life experiences then your own?

GB: Sara’s experience isn’t that different from mine in some important ways. I spent time in the Ruwenzori mountains — without killers on my trail, to be sure — when I was Sara’s age. And I have a daughter who is also from Sara’s generation. I think the character has some of both my daughter and myself in her.

BCB: Did you conduct any additional research to help write the book?

GB: I spent time researching Nazi warplanes and Tempelhof, walked the streets of Zurich, imagining chase scenes, and spent a few days in Lucca and the surrounding area developing Jeb and Sara’s time there. I also researched what FSS and FSB operatives would and wouldn’t have been good at — thoughts that I passed along to Sara for her use.

BCB: What do you hope the readers take away from your book?

GB: Many things, but especially Sara’s determination and resilience, even when nothing seemed possible. Her objectivity and resourcefulness. The complexity of Sara and Jeb’s relationship, as it unfolds. Sara’s reactions to her father’s death and fiance’s betrayal. The different forms of malice and evil that Petronov and Kerrington personified and Sara’s responses to that.

BCB: What projects are you working on next?

GB: Another thriller — The Priest. A former Mafia enforcer is posted abroad after giving up his life of mayhem and becoming a priest. By chance, he befriends a former high-ranking general, whose deathbed confession and will sends the priest in search of documents that would reshape the map of Asia, while chased by intelligence services intent on stopping the priest in his tracks.
Gary Born is widely regarded as the world’s preeminent authority on international commercial arbitration and international litigation. He has been ranked for more than 20 years as one of the world’s leading international arbitration advocates and authors. “The File” is his debut novel.

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