Monday, November 26, 2012

About the Pomona Terrorists

Below is an email that I wrote, today, to a reporter at the LA Times that I met one day at Starbucks:

Hi X,

You probably don't remember me. We met at the Starbucks in KoreaTown, while I was on my lunch break. I was the chubby, balding blond guy who works for the Health Department, inspecting hospital radiology departments.

Hey, look, I am really frustrated that none of your colleagues are interested in this topic. I realize that Mexico i.e. South America is your beat, but I think you have the wisdom to understand what I am trying to ask: why did the Pomona 3 self-radicalize?

I wrote a novel that I finished in 2009, and the usual New York publishers didn't bother to tell me they weren't interested, except for one genius who took the time to write me, and let me know that the plot was implausible, stupid, contrived, and anti-muslim. Well, guess what? The plot that the FBI exposed last week perfectly mirrors Amateur Hour: 3 young men in Claremont (Pomona, in real life) self-radicalize, one of them is ex-military, and train as terrorists.

X, your colleagues at the Times are asleep at the wheel. This is Pulitzer material: one of you could do an investigative report about how Catholic kids (I assume that 2 of them are Catholic) got lost in America in the gap between first-generation immigrants, and established Americans who feel at home, here. As an immigrant, myself, I understand the thought process of a lot of these guys. Despite having blond hair and blue eyes, and speaking English without an accent, I wasn't a real American, because I spoke in Hungarian with my parents, and I had a funny name.

This is good material, and it is highly relevant: If it was that easy for me to come up with a plot like that in Amateur Hour, do you think that this is the last time that this is going to happen? What are we as a society going to do about this? Do we spend money reading everybody's emails and FaceBook postings, and arresting the next batch of terrorists, or do we try to change the circumstances that lead to the type of thinking that leads to this?

I hope you can get one of your colleagues to think about this, and set off on the right track.


Monday, November 19, 2012

How to write a book no-one wants to read:

Two of my books that involve my two favorite topics (birds, and the military) are now out on for Kindle, and also at in all of the other (Nook, iPad) formats. They should already be up for direct purchase from iTunes (iStore) and in their prospective formats, but somebody somewhere hasn’t done the paperwork, yet.

Click here for information about all three books' content, and here to review or purchase Amateur Hour.

Some thoughts about one of the books, Roadside Rest: As a veteran who has worked in VA hospitals scanning my fellow veterans, Roadside Rest means a lot to me. While the story is fictional, it is based on several real-life people. Interestingly, I may have come up with the magic combination that causes few people to want to read it:

1. Women don’t want to read it because they have no military experience.

2. Men who usually read military stories don’t want to read it “because it’s about a girl.”

3. Birders (birdwatchers) don’t want to read it because (a) they have no military experience (the number of current or former military types who are birders is relatively small), and (b) Kris wears her dad’s .45 while out photographing birds in the Huachucas and the Chiricahuas.

4. Gun owners don’t like it because Kris is a birdwatcher, clearly a suspect liberal activity.

Now, I say these things somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but I still fret that too many people find it easier to hide inside their own pigeonholes, and not bother with a protagonist who doesn’t mirror all of their personal values i.e. mores.