The story behind your story
My new book, Casting Stones, is the second book in a trilogy with Mark Young, a political consultant, as the main character. The trilogy tells the story of his travails during the course of three political campaigns, and includes elements of deceit, danger, romance, humor, and exotic international and domestic settings, in other words, plenty of action and character development to go around. I don’t believe there has ever been a book or video series with a campaign as the setting with a political consultant as the lead character.
In my own experience, I have been fortunate to work at the highest levels of numerous institutions: In the White House, I wrote the plans to market the reorganization of the federal government and was directly involved in the successful efforts of Civil Service reform and also to reduce regulations on transportation, communications, banking, energy, and other industries that were put in place by lobbyists to inhibit competition. I traveled the nation speaking to the media on regulatory reform.
In addition, I created the media offices in Sidney, Monte Carlo, and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and trained and managed the staffs to oversee the communications of the Men’s professional tennis tour, the ATP Tour. In that role, I gained an understanding of the international media as I oversaw the production of a bi-weekly news magazine and several annual books, as well as the world championship tournament with 400 international reporters. I also wrote the public relations plan for the PGA Tour Golf Hall of Fame in Florida and was involved in the successful effort to organize thoroughbred horse racing into a business (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) as well as a brand that could be successfully marketed.
I have also been involved in marketing and communications in other businesses including a yearlong study looking at a national network to promote education as a for profit business through a 24-hour a day media network. No matter the business, like most people, I have observed common threads of tension, intrigue, trust, despair and elation in human nature as I managed various aspects of those operations, and I have incorporated those experiences into my writing. I continue to be amazed how many segments of our society are inextricably linked by their excess and focus on power. That too figures prominently in my writing.
Through a strong commitment to improving the lives of the less fortunate, I have been involved in several non-profits. After thirty-five years of helping children with cancer through being a counselor for many years as well as on the board of directors of an organization called Camp Sunshine, and also from my time and experience in the Vietnam War where I received the Bronze Star, I have witnessed the saddest and worst part of people, and also the best. In addition, from my close association with people around the world searching for peace, health and freedom through the activities of The Carter Center, which operates in the 80 poorest nations in the world, I have observed the value of continued hope and commitment to difficult but worthwhile causes.
I understand that many of these experiences are unusual for most people, and hope they improve my intention and insight in the books.
Some of the events in Casting Stonescome from my experiences during the 1985 Greek presidential election where I worked as a political consultant for the Sawyer-Miller group of New York. This book is a continuation of “Panama’s Rusty Lock – A novel of the 1984 Presidential Election” with the fictional character, American political consultrant Mark Young, discovering more about the intrigue and danger of managing national elections abroad.
Set in Greece during the 1985 elections, the historical political thriller pits the United States against the Soviet Union in a battle over Greece’s future political and economic future. The novel is set in the turbulent times of airline hijackings, terror bombing and assignations. The Soviet KGB, Greek secret police and terrorists all conspire against Mark Young as he tries to win a national election while simultaneously rescuing twelve invaluable ancient sculptures.
Mark is torn between the turmoil in Greece and a critical situation threatening his relationship with his girlfriend, Vicki, back in Washington, D.C. All of these diverse threads come together in an unexpected and powerful conclusion.
The broad content of “Casting Stones” gives the reader not only an intriguing inside view of an international election, but explains the Cold War fight between the Unites States and the Soviet Union regarding which economic system would direct the world’s economy. The book looks at the false promises of socialism and draws uncomfortable parallels between Greece in the mid 1980‘s and the United States today in the rapidly accumulation of debt and political dysfunction bound in rigid ideology. The cold war fight over Greece is described as if it were a swing state in today’s political competition in the United States.
The unfolding relationship of the lovers, Mark and Vicki, continues from the previous book about Panama’s presidential election in 1984 and showcases the tension and difficulty of a long-distance relationship. Their example shows how one couple deals with their problems in vivid contrast to the novel’s Soviet Ambassador and his wife and mistress.
The historical accuracy and the fate of the son of the former Soviet Premier, who was the actual mentor to Vladimir Putin, provides another aspect of the novel’s contemporary relevance.
The current Greek financial troubles were apparent from that time over 30 years ago which have caused increasing problems for their economy. The tragic decline in Greece’s finances was evident during the election, and the description of those problems during the visit to Arta was as I observed it. And in this novel, I have tried to use those issues to suggest similar problems democratic societies have in maintaining a compassionate economic system while creating a balanced and debt free economy.
Unfortunately for Greece, the mid 1980’s was also a time that saw the beginning of many hijackings and bombings, primarily by Arab terrorists. Similar bombings, assassinations and terror attacks by both Greek and Arab extremists targeting US citizens have continued to plague Greece up until the present day. The terrorist incidents described in this book did actually happen, fortunately not to me.
The book is also about the proxy fight over Greece by the United States and the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War. During my time in Greece, Igor Andropov was the Soviet minister and Sergei Bokhan was his deputy. Though the references to them in the book are fiction all of the newspaper articles included in the story as part of the narrative are qioted exactly.
One of the main characters, Maria Beckett, who unfortunately died in 2012, was a woman I worked with in Greece, and her efforts in the resistance to the junta are from my memories of the many stories she told me. She remains the most fascinating woman I have ever met and my poor attempt at fiction could never do justice to the real adventures in her life or her heroic character.
Several of the people mentioned here are also part of the public record of that campaign and the history of those times, and although there are events described in this story that did happen – the conversations, intentions, personalities, motivations, as well as many of the characters, are fiction. Actual names and events were used to add realism to the story, not to suggest any historical or accurate occurrence. Many of the scenes and the intrigue are enhanced and exaggerated for dramatic effect. Any offense to those living or deceased is unintended.
By writing fiction, I’ve try to expand on my history and the events I have observed. I still have a long way to go in tapping into all of that rich material, particularly since politics and entertainment so often go hand in hand, as I hope I have demonstrated in my work. These will be exciting areas for me to investigate and discuss while I continue to write about them. As I mentioned earlier, the third book in the trilogy concerns the interactions between the campaigns and the time of history of Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, and George Bush, a vast political world for me to plumb. I have stories to tell.