Sharing Space – recent guest blogs

I’ve been fortunate (and honored!) to have my writing hosted on other writers’ blogs over the past few months–and ones that I read regularly! Tomorrow, my post “Decisions, decisions…” will come out on the Writers Who Kill blog. Beginning in late September/early October, my writing will again be hosted on other blogs, and I couldn’t be more excited!

writers-who-killThis summer, I’ve written primarily about the short story “Numbers Don’t Lie,” included in the charity anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, vol. 2Every Stolen Vote is a Crime, and I’m taken with the support and fellowship offered by crime writers. I’m deeply grateful.

In case you missed them, below, are links to the most recent guest blogs and appearances, including a brief outline of future appearances.

July 14, 2020 – Art Taylor’s The First Two Pages

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July 8, 2020 – FacebookLive reading, excerpt “Numbers Don’t Lie”

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July 7, 2020 – Do Some Damage (Scott Adlerberg)

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_JMc-contact20James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers  Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st.

He’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

 

NetGalley-EmgPwrs

 

You can check out and review Emergency Powers for free on NetGalley.

 

 

The Imogen Trager #NoirPolitik Thrillers at a glance:

Faithless Elector – Everyone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network – Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1) – No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

trilogy-draft

Find them all through BookShop.org.  They are also  available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones (UK) and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books, or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Crisis

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

On March 21st, The Hill and NBC, among others, reported that the DOJ was asking Congress for emergency powers during the COVID-19 Crisis. This leapt out at me, as I imagine it did a lot of Americans, who are strongly in favor of the rule of law, and habeas corpus, and who are aghast at the undermining of Constitutional prerogatives. But in seeking “emergency powers” AG Barr was also making use of the title of my new thriller (due out Oct. 1, 2020), called Emergency Powers.

DOJ-EmgPwrCentral to the thriller’s action (which I began writing in the spring of 2017) is a corrupted DOJ, a pliant Attorney General and a power-mad president who chips away at the underlying foundation of government. It’s up to FBI Agent Imogen Trager—unsure whom she can trust in the Bureau—to see that this crisis is not compounded.

And in the novel, the crisis the president and his cabal create will allow him to invoke emergency powers, and increase his grip on power. While the fictional crisis is much different from our current situation, politicians and policy people are fond of noting that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” It’s the heart of the story.

But in order not to waste the crisis opportunity, those who seek advantage must first be prepared, must have laid the groundwork. For Imogen Trager in the thriller, and for us in real life, it’s instructive to look at what has been prepared.

The dictum about never wasting a crisis is generally attributed to Rahm Emanuel, but it was first uttered by Stanford economist Paul Romer, and it echoes the political scientist, John Kingdon’s notion of “policy windows” and “policy entrepreneurs.”

These shifts can end up being positive, or negative. The point is that a set of policy entrepreneurs has an agenda, and that policy change comes about when the three streams of problems, politics, and policies connect. To gain advantage, they must be prepared ahead of time.

In the 1930’s, FDR responded to the Depression with the New Deal policies. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the “W” Bush administration hurried through its war-on-terror agenda, which included the Patriot Act, pre-emptive war with Iraq and enhanced interrogation. The Trump administration seems inward focused, bent on eroding Constitutional prerogatives. It’s disquieting to see what this administration has been preparing in the background.

Emergency Powers is the third book in the Imogen Trager thriller series, which began with Faithless Elector and Dark Network. As I’ve written elsewhere in this blog, I’ve been doing what could be called Kingdonian plot entrepreneurism.”

That is, rather than react and respond in a ripped-from-the-headlines manner, I’ve looked at the broader state of our democracy and thought forward: “How might it be made worse?” “What are the forces behind this decline?” and “What would it take to subvert those machinations?”

And, I’ve asked myself whether it could be stopped…

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The Imogen Trager #NoirPolitik Thrillers at a glance:

Faithless Elector – Everyone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network – Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1) – No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

trilogy-draft

James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers  Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.  The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

_JMc-contact20

Find them through Indybound.org.  They are also  available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com

 

Anything But Straightforward

For the Electoral College, the way forward is anything but straightforward.

In the 1796 presidential election, when one elector, Samuel Miles, who was pledged to Adams (Federalist candidate) changed his mind and voted for Jefferson (Democratic-Republican candidate), Federalist party members were outraged.

Samuel Miles-elector

Samuel Miles

One wrote, “Do I choose Samuel Miles to determine for me whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferson shall be President? No, I choose him to act, not to think.”

This has been the central question for the Electoral College for over 200 years, since the rise of national parties.

A scant four years ago, Faithless Elector debuted, and it’s been thrilling and challenging readers ever since. Its combination of strong characters pitted against forces larger than themselves resonated then, and it continues to do so now.  FaithlessElector-cvrAgainst the backdrop of a very close presidential race, the novel asks, “What if?”

What if Electors could be lobbied and bought? What if a group of ruthless conspirators saw a way to upend an election for their own gain? How far would the conspiracy go to keep the machinations quiet?

The questions FBI Agent Imogen Trager, Duncan Calder and Matthew Yamashita are forced to confront as they risk everything to uncover who’s behind the conspiracy and stop it, haven’t just remained salient, they have become more relevant.

Who decides the presidency?

Since Faithless Elector’s publication, we have witnessed the election of Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College (the second president to so this century). Into the bargain, in 2016 we had seven (7!) Faithless Elector defections. Now, at the end of April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against so-called Faithless Elector laws in the states.

At stake, and the central plot point for the characters trying to save the presidency, is whether Electors are regarded as independent actors or mere delegates. That debate is over 200 years old.

The Supreme Court will decide, but as the twists and turns of Faithless Elector show–and the articles below demonstrate–the way forward is anything but straightforward. It’s unlikely any single group will be happy with the Court’s decision. Whatever it is.

 

Why do We Have an Electoral College Again?(NYTimes)

What if We Just Counted Up All the Votes for President and Saw Who Won? (NYTimes)

The Electoral College is long past its sell-by date… (NYTimes)

How to—Carefully—Surmount the Electoral College (Atlantic):

The Chaos Coming for the U.S. Election (Atlantic):

The Imogen Trager Thrillers at a glance:

trilogy-draft

Faithless Elector – Everyone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network – Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1) – No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

#   #   #

James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.  The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

_JMc-contact20

Find them through Indybound.org.  They are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com

 

Happy 4th Birthday to Faithless Elector!

FE-birthday

March 14, 2016

Four years ago today, I received the final proof copy of Faithless Elector from the printer. Thank you to everyone who has supported and taken part in a thrilling journey!

It’s one that continues with Dark Network, and the soon-to-be published EMERGENCY POWERS (Oct. 1), which will finish the series. Though focused on Imogen Trager’s struggles, the books have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel: a jaded, cynical electorate, a fractious FBI, an undermined Attorney General, powerful people exploiting the rule of law for their own gain. (There’s even a prison murder made to look like a suicide.) But the books are more than headlines about things people think they know. And darker.

They are tense, #NoirPolitik thrillers about corruption, murder and ultimately a kind of redemption, achieved at enormous personal cost for the feisty heroine, FBI Agent Imogen Trager and those around her.

Back in those seemingly innocent Spring days of early 2016, no one could be sure who the candidates would be. I made a conscious choice to use fictional candidates. While I hoped the book’s topicality in the run-up to the election would help it stand apart from the hundreds of other political thrillers out there (it did!), I didn’t want it to be a broadside–about one real party or candidate trying to steal the election.

It was important that readers see the larger themes of power politics and not automatically view the events through the divisive prism of the primaries. The story would suffer under the weight of pre-existing views. I wanted the book to express a broader dilemma about the real-world consequences of democratic deficiency. I’m gratified that readers have seemed to embrace this part of the book. The story appeals to conservatives and liberals alike because it’s about all of us.

The key to Faithless Elector was that in a close Electoral College race, it would not take much to tip the scales. A disciplined, well-funded group could undermine and hijack the parties–and the will of the people. It was a danger then, and the danger remains potent now. Moreover, the novel’s plot hinges on the actions of ordinary citizens thrust into extraordinary circumstances, forced to act, forced to risk everything for their belief in democracy.

Since its publication on March 23, 2016, Faithless Elector has found a readership, for which I am deeply grateful. I’ve had correspondence from all over the US, the UK and Australia. Most of it has been very positive (some of it alarmingly CAPS LOCK hostile, but those folks were never actual readers).

I’ve had two readers who reached out to me and identified themselves as real Electors. One, himself a professor, felt events in the book were a little too close for his comfort: he wrote to me that one night, he, like the fictional Professor Calder, was working late at the university. The sudden sounds of slamming doors and footsteps echoing through his building unnerved him. He decided to finish his work at home that night.

I have heard from other readers that the book has ruined parking garages for them. They can no longer view them as just ugly features on the landscape, but as fraught with danger. Graduate students and academics have told me they enjoyed the portrayals of Calder and Matthew and university life. I’ve loved meeting readers–in person and online–and I’ve had wonderful questions at the readings and book talks I’ve done, as well as passionate appeals to bring back certain relatively minor characters. (I’ll do what I can!)

Here’s to Imogen and Duncan, and as always, Matthew!

The Imogen Trager Thrillers at a glance:

trilogy-draft

Faithless ElectorEveryone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1)No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

#   #   #

James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.  The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

_JMc-contact20

Find them through Indybound.org.  They are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com