Posts tagged with: thriller

How to buy an oriental rug

When Becky and I were in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia in November, 2013 researching my novel The Mingrelian we bought this rug.  I’d been there in 1998 on a military exchange trip and wanted to see what had changed (a lot).  Part of the story I was writing revolved around the protagonist, Boyd Chailland meeting his espionage contact at a rug shop.  We visited the shop and I wrote the part based on what I saw.  I’ve bought a few Central Asian tribal rugs over the years and was interested in getting one from Georgia.  They have a small rug making area south of Tbilisi, the skill probably dating from Georgia being occupied by both the Persian and Ottoman empires.  They told me this rug was 100 years old, but they always say rugs are old, as Americans like antiques.  Why would someone own a rug for 100 years and not walk on it?  Anyway, this one looked unique and I liked it, but it was torn.  They wanted $4oo for it.  We dickered.  They agreed to sell it for $300, and repair it for $100.  I told them if they’d ship it to Arkansas for that we had a deal.  They did.  I’ve found rug merchants in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia to be more honest than rug merchants in the U.S.  I’ve been screwed over twice buying rugs here.  If a rug merchant has a shop and a Visa and MasterCard account, that’s the way to buy.  Take a picture of your purchase, let them arrange shipping to your home and if it doesn’t arrive, reverse the sale.  I trust MasterCard to handle the exchange rates.  I love the rug.  It looks new and smells like it might have been in a pile of old rugs in some rug shop for a few generations.  I put it under my pool table so the sun doesn’t shine on on.  Never leave an Asian rug in sunlight.  They will fade.

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The Fourth Domain: Ed Baldwin’s new book

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This is the first draft of the cover for my newest adventure novel The Fourth Domain.  It’s a political drama with world wide scope. Deadlocked most of the time, with sudden consensus congress can act in an afternoon; not the best way to govern a nation.  The Fourth Domain  is about how it happens, and what can result.  Protagonist Major Boyd Chailland is called to action yet again to go undercover in the Pentagon.

What do you think?

 

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Ebola

My novel The Devil on Chardonnay is about an Ebola outbreak that spreads to the United States.  I’ve been fascinated by this illness since I was the Pentagon action officer creating the Global Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance and response System.  I had access to the world’s experts on Ebola and I milked them shamelessly for insight as I was going to write a novel about it. The beginning of The Devil on Chardonnay  is based on the account I got in person from the army veterinarian who observed the Kikwit outbreak for the World Health Organization in 1996.

Ebola lives in the jungle of the Congo basin, and outbreaks start when people kill and butcher monkeys for food.  Ebola spreads from contact with bodily fluid, especially blood, and it’s 80% fatal.  No other illness except rabies has that high a fatality rate; not smallpox, not anthrax, not meningitis.  It isn’t endemic in monkeys because it kills them as fast as it kills people, so a small group that gets Ebola is wiped out.  Where does Ebola live between primate outbreaks?  That’s the biggest mystery in microbiology.

I did extensive research for The Devil on Chardonnay.  The only departure from scientific fact in the story involves a slight evolution that makes it viable in a mosquito’s stomach and therefore transmissible by that insect vector.  Ebola doesn’t do that.  Everything else, including the vaccine technology in the story is factual.  It is one hell of a story.  If you want to know all about Ebola, read The Devil on Chardonnay.

 

 

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The Book Cover

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This is the draft of the cover art for my next novel, The Mingrelian.  Steve Meosky of Austin Texas created this design.  He is the designer of The Other Pilot and The Devil on Chardonnay covers as well.

He’s dapper, confident, mysterious, and he’s looking over his shoulder.  Well he should, because he’s been laundering Iranian oil money through the Republic of Georgia, and passing secrets about Iran’s nuclear weapons program to the Americans; triple agent espionage.  But, there’s the promise of action in this picture too.  What is that C-130 doing behind him, and which mountains are those?  Oh, this is going to be fun.

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The Mingrelian: Espionage at a Tbilisi rug shop

 

IMG_0212This is the rug shop in Tbilisi, Georgia where Boyd Chailland, the dashing Air Force captain and protagonist of Ed Baldwin’s adventure series meets his contact in the shadowy world of Central Asian political intrigue.  When the beautiful Ekaterina Dadiani steps out from behind a curtain in this rug shop the whole story changes for Boyd, and for the reader.  “The Mingrelian”, CIA’s code word for the spy passing secrets about Iran’s nuclear weapons program suddenly becomes personal.  Is it Ekaterina?  If not, who?  Why?  What happens if the Iranians find out?

You won’t have to wait long.  Boyd’s tale is almost done, and Steve Meosky, the cover artist for The Other Pilot, The Devil on Chardonnay, is back on the job with The Mingrelian. Expect to be reading something in May.

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The Mingrelian: Is this the man?

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Dapper, sophisticated, mysterious; this is the statue of Lado Gudashvili, an artist and anti-Soviet activist from the Republic of Georgia.  I was in Tbilisi gathering material for my next novel and scoured the National Art Museum, the National Museum, several art galleries and a large street flea market looking for an image for the cover of the book; nothing.  Then, on my last day before driving to Zugdidi and the Dadiani Palace (see last post) I found this statue behind the art museum.  Though Lado Gudashvili was not known to be a Mingrelian, he could have been.  Mingrelia is to  Georgia what Texas is to America; part of the fabric of the culture.

Look at that wide brim fedora; the face in partial shadow, the nonchalant way he stands there with his elbow on the pedestal.  You know this guy is up to something.  That’s what the character in the novel is like; sophisticated, mysterious, and up to no good.  He’ll be born in the spring.

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The Mingrelian: Boyd Chailland’s next adventure

IMG_0264This is the Dadiani Palace, home to the last reigning Prince of Mingrelia, who abdicated to the Russian Czar in the late 19th century and moved to St. Petersburg while the Czar took the remaining western portion of Georgia and the warm water port of Batumi on the Black Sea.  The snow capped mountains in the background are the Caucasus, with Abkhazia in the foreground and Sochi, Russia just beyond.  That’s where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held.

We left Tbilisi, Georgia last weekend and drove 160 miles west to the Black Sea.  The Caucasus Mountains, 20,000 feet tall and snowcapped year round are on both sides of the valley.  The Dadiani Palace is in Zugdidi, just 25 miles from the Black Sea, so the climate is sub-tropical; they’re selling oranges, lemons, and gigantic persimmons all along the road.  Batumi is a destination resort long prized by the Russians and now popular with many from the Middle East because it’s warm in the summer, but not hot.  We stayed at the Radisson Blue in Batumi; 19 floors tall right on the Black Sea.  The highway from Tbilisi is lined by modest houses of people engaged in subsistence agriculture on small plots of land given them when the Soviet Union dissolved and Georgia became independent.  Though the land is fertile and water plentiful, there is no sign of modern large scale farming.

It’s from this background that The Mingrelian will emerge; Boyd Chailland’s next adventure.  Stay tuned for more.

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Writing and The Day Job

TheDevilCharSliderAll writers need day jobs.  We have to write what we know, and if we’ve never had a job we don’t know anything.   So, policemen and reporters write crime stories, lawyers write legal thrillers, soldiers write war stories, and everyone tries to write political drama.  What about Tom Clancy?  He was an insurance salesman with a passion for all things naval, but no first hand experience.  He read naval documents and studies meant for career naval officers.  He took that dull factual knowledge and created a genre; the techno-thriller.   Clancy dominated that market for twenty years.

Research becomes the day job.  Graham Greene started writing about his experiences in Africa during World War II, but after he told that story he traveled to Haiti and lived in that corrupt society to write The Comedians.  It was written in the fifties, and it’s amazing how true it remains today.  That’s a real writer doing his job.

Bookman arose from my days selling books in college.  The Other Pilot is a thriller that began with my Air National Guard fascination with all things flying, while The Devil on Chardonnay draws from my Pentagon job as an action officer creating the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, and the two years I spent in the Azores.  Next week I’ll
travel to Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia by way of Istanbul, Turkey to research The Mingrelian.  That thriller began with a military exchange trip to Central Asia in 1998, and my tour at Strategic Command in Omaha writing nuclear war plans 2000-2003.  Like Tom Clancy and Graham Greene, I’m getting better at writing.   I’ll have this one finished before the end of the year (I hope).

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Fraud!

Fraud; I love it. Fiction depends on it, and genre fiction elevates fraud to art. All best selling fiction is about fraud. Oh the thrill of the swindle, the tension of the false identity, the smug comfort of well laundered money! Conspiracies aren’t about conspiracy, they’re about FRAUD. Why conspire to break the law if there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the plot? And, the bigger the pot of gold, the more fun it is. We all know there are people out there flaunting the law, gaming the system, cashing in on some cleaver shortcut, and we all want to know how they’re doing it. That’s my genre. I’ve been a passionate student of fraud for 35 years. I’ve studied the masters; Bernie Kornfeld, Robert Vesco, the Butcher Brothers, the Penn Square/Continental Illinois Bank failure, Marc Rich, Bernie Madoff, and dozens more. I mine the tiny details of smuggling, money laundering, stock manipulation, and class action litigation to find the stories, characters, and techniques that will keep readers up at night.

After fraud comes schadenfreude, the second essential element of fiction. Schadenfreude is the pleasure we feel when the bad guy gets it in the end. It’s a universal emotion; enjoying the suffering of others. Cheap genre fiction; that schlock that hack writers churn out, is nothing more than a heinous crime and a bad end for the perp. We writers should do more. Readers deserve to learn something, even in genre fiction. Not so they’ll do it, because good fraud is very hard to pull off, but because people enjoy knowing.

Today two of my books were at #2 and #3 on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestseller List in the financial thriller category. The Other Pilot and The Devil on Chardonnay are geopolitical action thrillers; but they’re basically telling a tale of FRAUD. The next book, The Mingrelian is about spies, money laundering, embargoes, and Iran’s nuclear weapons program. I’t will be finished soon.

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Book Expo America 2013

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Author Ed Baldwin will be attending the Book Expo America in New York City May 28-June 1 to promote his new book, The Devil on Chardonnay. BookExpo America is the premier promotional event for the publishing industry and will showcase bestselling authors (unfortunately, not Ed Baldwin this year), and newly released books. Agents, Authors, publishers, promoters, printers, editors, lawyers, marketers, advertisers, and anyone else wanting to make a buck off of books will be there hustling. Ed loves to hustle. Ed used to be a door to door salesman.

The Devil on Chardonnay, the second thriller in the Boyd Chailland series, takes Boyd to Africa and the Indian Ocean to kick off a page turner about a secret vaccine, and contains the inside dope on how America would respond to a biological threat, written by one who helped create part of that infrastructure. Like The Other Pilot, Boyd uses his brains to figure this one out, and flying various types of aircraft is his trademark, but The Devil on Chardonnay is also about a beautiful sailing yacht. Look for it in June.

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