Britbear’s Book Reviews is pleased to interview Rodney Page, author of Powers Not Delegated and the upcoming Xerces Factor in today’s author spotlight.
After several months author Charles Arrington had recovered, but recovery was a relative term; he had lost an eye and his right arm when the bomb exploded in his car. However, he would never overcome the loss of his wife, Myra.
Cassandra Martingale, Charles’s long time live-in personal secretary and housekeeper, is determined that Charles will write again and she transforms herself into a taskmaster. Her rehabilitation and physical therapy regimens are a constant source of irritation, but Charles recovers.
He and his best friend, FBI Assistant Director Jack Flannigan, are puzzled when they discover that Charles’s computer had been hacked by someone inside the federal government, someone very interested in the research for his next book, The Thieves in the Pentagon…Corruption that Threatens Our National Security.
Charles concludes that his book was the reason for Myra’s death. He wrestles with his guilt but recommits himself to discovering his wife’s murderer. Marti Foster, the irreverent twenty-something hacker that Charles hires, brings a refreshing and invigorating presence to the household.
Charles enlists the aid of Irving Witzel, an old friend and civil libertarian, to utilize his vast experience as Washington’s premier authority on the Freedom of Information Act. However, Witzel’s efforts to discover the truth are stymied by the administration’s novel strategy…supplying too much information.
Langston Culpepper, a corrupt procurement officer at the Pentagon, is not content with the millions of dollars already defrauded from the taxpayers. His obsessive greed drives him to try to force Barbara Connor, the CEO of a major defense contractor and his lover, to help him do something far more far more sinister than mere theft…he wants to sell America’s most highly classified technology to a foreign power.
President Marshall Norris and a small but loyal group of fellow pacifists stop at nothing to insure that no one discovers their secret plan to share the new Xerces anti-missile defense system with the nations of the world, allies and belligerents alike. The zealots’ naïve intentions degenerate into an out-of-control spiral of lawlessness and cover-ups to hold on to political power.
Charles’s physical condition improves, but he struggles through periodic fits of depression. The quest to find Myra’s killer seems too much to bear. But with Jack Flannigan’s sometimes tough love and the support of a new romantic interest, Charles perseveres.
After Charles writes a scathing expose’ in the Washington Post he and Jack are forced to flee Washington. At the president’s direction Attorney-General Michael Shadburn fabricates bogus felony charges against the two men and dispatches a contract para-military force to apprehend them…dead or alive. However, FBI Director Ted Grambling intervenes, and the hunters become the hunted. The chase ends in Houston, and the president’s scheme begins to unravel.
Haunted by memories of combat in Vietnam, the president’s ardently anti-war chief-of-staff, Frank Marlowe, finally recognizes the president for what he is…a power-mad politician, not the last best hope for sustainable world peace. In an Oval Office speech written by Marlowe the distracted president inadvertently reveals his unconstitutional intentions to a worldwide audience.
The young Chinese-American engineer, Alan Wah, either delivers the super-secret source code for the Xerces guidance system or his family will die. The FBI’s carefully conceived plan to protect the engineer’s life and capture his handler goes awry on the Texas plains between Houston and San Antonio.
Charles discovers who murdered his wife, but it is not who he suspected.
Welcome, Rodney. On your Amazon page, it says you write in the genres of mystery and thrillers. What draws you to these genres?
Good question. When I decided to write my first novel, Powers Not Delegated, I took heed of the classic conventional wisdom: write what you know about. I love history and am a current events junky so it made sense to start there. Also, I’m an avid reader of the genre and infatuated with intricate plot twists and turns.
Does your forty years of business experience figure into your stories? If yes, then how. If no, then why not?
Yes they do, in a couple of ways…
First, in terms of writing style, During my business career I wrote countless business-related documents…business and strategic plans, valuation analyses, operations reports…even a business column for a newspaper and a non-fiction business book. All had several common characteristics: brevity, clarity and succinctness. Though admirable skills, they don’t lend themselves to fiction where character, location and event descriptions are vital to producing engaging narratives. When editing, I, of course, remove a lot of junk and unnecessary words. But I also find myself adding descriptions that make for the richness necessary in a novel.
Second, the years of analytical thinking assist greatly in developing plot lines and characters. I’m a stickler for accuracy and plausibility. Readers want to be entertained, but they also want a book to make sense. Untied loose ends, unexplained character behaviors and nonsensical coincidences detract from the sense of reality I strive to convey.
How did The Xerces Factor project come about?
It was an intentional effort to write a thriller, not a political thriller. It is set in Washington and utilizes espionage, crooked politicians and corruption subplots. However, I wanted to focus more on the characters…how they are personally impacted by the plot rather than vice versa; particularly how the major protagonist deals with his wife’s murder.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
As quaint as it may be: the good guys triumph in the end. Overcoming life’s challenges is a classic and timeless story line. The road is rocky and there are ups and downs, but perseverance, courage and a sense of humor will see you through.
Good vs. evil is a well-known literary archetype. It’s good to know that good can still win once in a while.
What is your most favourite part of the publishing/writing process? Your least favourite?
Of course, the favorite is writing. The least favorite: editing because it can become an endless process. With each read-through I find things that can be improved. And I am tormented when I send the ‘final’ manuscript to the publisher… knowing a word change here or a rephrasing there would make it better.
At some point we all have to nudge our baby birds from the nest.
What is your favourite motivational phrase and why?
‘It ain’t over till it’s over’…as referenced in #6 above and as I’ve personally experienced, if you ‘hang in there’ a positive outcome is more than likely.
What are your current projects?
Perhaps not an approach I’d recommend for others, but I enjoy working on several projects simultaneously.
Close to completion is The Fourth Partner, a mystery intentionally not set in DC. It features an eccentric detective who solves a cold murder case in coastal Georgia.
Murcheson County is a historical novel that chronicles three families’ (plantation aristocrats, yeoman farmers, slaves) trials, tribulations and interactions in Georgia from 1807 through the Civil War.
Lastly, a yet untitled book about a murder in a mid-size Georgia city in 1962. Though a mystery, the book dwells on the attitudes of the time. Some characters are stereotypical as one would expect in a novel set in the segregated South, but many are not. A very challenging project!
What is the one question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?
Question: Why should I read The Xerces Factor?
Answer: The book is fast-based and plausible. The characters are real, not stereotypical heroes and villains; they’re fallible. Their imperfections, strengths and weaknesses and human reactions to the what engulfs them induce the reader to ask, “What would I do under similar circumstances?”
Thanks, Rodney. I’m looking forward to reading your work. Where can we learn more about you and you writing?
A Georgia native, Rodney’s business career included a variety of senior management positions and consulting engagements in companies and industries ranging from startups to Fortune 50 firms.
A graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in 2005 Rodney authored Leading Your Business to the Next Level…the Six Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth, a hands-on guide for companies navigating the perils and pitfalls of a high growth environment.
An avid student of history and political junky, Rodney combined those interests with his lifelong desire to write a novel. His first, Powers Not Delegated, was published in 2012
Rodney’s second novel, The Xerces Factor, will be released in April, 2015. He meshes his knowledge of history and current events to pin a relevant and plausible tale of intrigue inside the Beltway.
Rodney lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His passions include hiking, photography, history, reading, and, of course, University of Georgia football.