Author Interview Katherine Burlake

Katherine Burlake, Author


It is my pleasure to introduce Katherine Burlake, a Colorado author who has travelled all over the world on behalf of the U.S. Embassy operations. Katherine’s valuable experience in Saudi Arabia is reflected in her debut international thriller, The Bystander.


For nineteen years, Katherine Burlake has traveled to over a hundred countries, many more than once, writing reports on U.S. Embassy operations. She lived in Thailand and England as an Air Force Intelligence Officer, in Peru with the UN, and in the Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia for four years. Katherine often says, ” Many of the countries I visited were the world’s dangerous places.” From her experiences, she had a short story published in the Macguffin about buying a painting at the al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad.

Katherine Burlake in Kenya

Author Interview

Would you provide an overview of your debut international thriller, The Bystander: An Amy Prowers book?

The Bystander is a mystery thriller set in Saudi Arabia where rivalries in the royal family, religion, and oil money intersect. In a kingdom built on sand, an ambitious and devious prince uses terrorism to disrupt the line of succession and become king.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

After living in Saudi Arabia for four years, I wanted others to understand the country.

How has your background in Intelligence and worldwide travel help you to write this book?

Everything we do in life, I believe is found in what we write.

Are there similarities between the character, Prince Rashid, in your book and the current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? If so, what are these similarities?

Both are royal princes in the House of Saudi. BS is the crown prince and presumed heir. Rashid acts to become the crown prince.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Currently, I am working on a book on Nazi gold and found that I have to do a lot of research on Neo-Nazi, something in which I was never interested.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

I am surprised that many readers don’t realize how events in the Middle East impact their life today and in the future.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Read more books to understand the world around you. Support climate change.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

A rag doll, Maudie May.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Honest, stability

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

To be a better self-editor

What might we be surprised to learn about you?

Having traveled all over the world, I will never cross the Atlantic Ocean in a ship.

What makes you laugh?

Political satire

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Watching wildlife in the wild

You can contact Katherine Burlake at:  

You can purchase Katherine Burlake’s book at:


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Book Review The Bystander by Katherine Burlake

The Bystander: An Amy Prowers bookThe Bystander: An Amy Prowers book by Katherine Burlake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bystander by Katherine Burlake is an international thriller that provides a rich, in-depth perspective of the culture and history of Saudi Arabia. The main character, Amy Prowers, travels to Saudi Arabia at the request of her friend, a Saudi princess, to validate a major archaeological finding at the ancient city of Ubar. However, Amy is swept into political intrigue when she witnesses a bombing while staying at the Royal Doha Hotel in Qatar. The danger heightens when she and her comrades are kidnapped near the excavation site. After she activates the GPS on her watch so she can be tracked, the pick-up conveying Amy and her colleagues crashes in a sand dune. A mysterious man rescues them and leaves them in a nearby town. The subsequent events at the archaeological site and other bombings in the region culminate in a political conspiracy for one Saudi prince to rise in power.

Author Katherine Burlake masterfully weaves the culture and historical perspective of Saudi Arabia into an exciting international thriller. The story is told from the perspective of several characters, and their stories thread together to help the reader understand the political intrigue behind the scenes. The suspense works best when we are grounded in the point of view of Amy Powers and can sense the danger she faces. However, the tension and suspense fades toward the end because motivations behind the political intrigue are sometimes revealed too quickly.

I recommend this book to readers who’d like to gain more insight into the culture of Saudi Arabia and how its history might impact the maneuverings of the present-day Royal Family. A thought-provoking read.

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