Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Guest Post by James Houston Turner, Author of Greco's Game

I'm so excited about the launch of the 2017 Film Option edition of Greco’s Game with a redesigned cover and updated narrative! I first read Greco's Game in 2012 so when this new edition is launched, I immediately bought the Kindle edition and to top it all off I'm proud to be a part of the RABT virtual book tour.

There are two parts to this post: A guest post with the author and about Greco's Game. Please join me in welcoming author James Houston Turner to Hello, My Name Is Alice!

During a recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the privilege of an invitation into the home of Australian film director, Phillip Noyce. I had been email acquaintances with Phillip for  several years but had never met him, so this was a real treat. Over glasses of his “Noyce Brothers” label of Aussie wine, we talked about the ups and downs of life and how it influenced our work.

When I described a painful family separation in the wake of my 1991 cancer operation, Phillip kept asking, “why,” to some of the reactions of a particular family member. We dug deep, and I learned very quickly that Phillip is a “why guy,” which is why he has directed such powerful films. He always questions motives and how they affect behavior. As the old adage goes, “People do not always have to make sense ... except in fiction.”

Motives. That is what governs a character’s actions, and yet we as writers have to dig deeper into the complexities and eccentricities of character development in order to first understand it, and then write about it in such a way that it doesn’t sound like we’re writing about it. The best writing is seamless writing, flowing easily, even in its meanderings, sidesteps, and flashbacks.

In terms of character arc, Phillip and I spoke of my signature hero, Talanov, and he asked, “Why would he do something like that?” He was referring to Talanov’s decision to defect from the KGB and become a spy for America during the Cold War (a story I tell in my novel, November Echo). I described my experiences as a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain and all of the deprivation and corruption I saw, and how an actual KGB agent leaked word out of Moscow that I was on a KGB watch list and being followed in San Diego, where I was living at the time. “Why would he do that?” Phillip asked. “Why would a KGB agent risk his life to help you, a person he had never met?” Having interviewed a number of gulag and death camp survivors, maybe it was an issue of faith, since all of the people I interviewed were people of faith, because Christians during those bleak times were the only ones who helped others, even when such actions put their own lives at risk. I remember seeing Phillip smile because he knew I had stumbled onto an important aspect of character development: the ability to look beyond motives into what causes motives, which is often a landmark experience – or person – that affects us deeply and alters the course of our lives.

So I credit Phillip Noyce for helping me become more of a “why guy.” Answering those “whys” – and the whys of those whys – guides me on my path of creating and developing characters that I hope resonate with readers in the same way they resonate with me.
Thriller / Suspense / Action / Romance
Date Published: November 1, 2017
Publisher: Regis Books

Colonel Aleksandr Talanov – the “ice man” – is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can’t, and it’s an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.

Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.

But in the seedy world of human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, Larisa made the mistake of stealing the ice man’s wallet. In it was Talanov’s sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin’s bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. Or was it a mistake?

The answer lies in Greco’s Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov’s old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?

About the Author

James Houston Turner is the bestselling author of the Aleksandr Talanov thriller series, as well as numerous other books and articles. Talanov the fictional character was inspired by the actual KGB agent who once leaked word out of Moscow that James was on a KGB watch-list for his smuggling activities behind the old Iron Curtain. James Houston Turner’s debut thriller, Department Thirteen, was voted “Best Thriller” by USA Book News, after which it won gold medals in the Independent Publisher (“IPPY”) Book Awards and the Indie Book Awards. His novel, Greco’s Game, has just been optioned for film. A cancer survivor of more than twenty-five years, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Baker University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston (Clear Lake). After twenty years in Australia, he and his wife, Wendy, author of The Recipe Gal Cookbook, now live in Austin, Texas.

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