Saturday, February 3, 2018

FEATURED AUTHOR: RONALD S. BARAK




ABOUT THE BOOK


"WE HAVE YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER. HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO."

That's the text message Supreme Court Justice Arnold Hirschfeld receives as hearings commence in the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the fate of the 28th Amendment - enacted to criminalize abuse of power on the part of our political representatives.

In court to defend the amendment, retired U.S. District Court Judge Cyrus Brooks observes his old friend and law school classmate Hirschfeld acting strangely and dispatches veteran D.C. homicide detective Frank Lotello to find out why.

In the meantime, Hirschfeld's precocious and feisty 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter Cassie, brutally kidnapped to control her grandfather's swing vote upholding or invalidating the amendment, watches her insulin pump running dry and wonders which poses her greatest threat, the kidnappers or the clock. As Brooks is forced to choose between saving our nation or saving the girl.


Book Details:

Title: The Amendment Killer

Author: Ronald S. Barak

Genre: Political and Legal Thriller, Brooks/Lotello Thriller series, Volume 1

Publisher: Gander House Publishers (November 1st 2017)

Paperback: 570 pages

Touring with: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours







INTERVIEW WITH RONALD S. BARAK


Ron, what’s the story behind the title The Amendment Killer?
The antagonist kidnaps the 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of a Supreme Court Justice to cause the Supreme Court to invalidate a Constitutional amendment criminalizing abuse of criminal power. The kidnapper is . . . The Amendment Killer. Alternatively, the entire story is about killing the amendment. Or not. I also considered The Killer Amendment, i.e., a great amendment killing off political misconduct, but The Amendment Killer won out because it is easier to explain and . . . well, it just sounds better. The Killer Amendment is a bit clicheish.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
The Amendment Killer is the first published novel in The Brooks/Lotello Thriller series. It is the second chronologically (time frame) speaking. The second in the series will be published in late Spring 2018 and is titled The Puppet Master. It’s the first chronologically in the series and is a prequel to The Amendment Killer.

What’s your favorite memory?
I don’t . . . recall. 


If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Probably more gadgets than I already buy.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
More gadgets than I need.


What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Not to depend on gadgets.

Who would you pick to write your biography?
Me. That way I could save a lot of time having to tell my biographer all about . . . me. Second choice: Walter Isaacson.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
I majored in physics even though I couldn’t change a light bulb and knew I never would.

Where’s home for you? Pacific Palisades, which is a city (or municipality) in the county of Los Angeles, State of California. We live on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean between Santa Monica and Malibu, just west of Brentwood first and Beverly Hills to the east.

What do you love about where you live?

It’s where my wife lives.



Where did you grow up? In Los Angeles.

Have you been in any natural disasters?

Except for a significant earthquake, all of my disasters tend to be unnatural.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
A triple somersault high above the ground when I was on my way to becoming an Olympic gymnast.


What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
A triple somersault high above the ground when I was on the way to becoming an Olympic gymnast.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?

Not to worry about what you can’t control or influence.


What makes you bored?

Playing board games.


What is your most embarrassing moment?
Explaining to people why I majored in physics in college when I can’t change a light bulb.


What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?

Majoring in physics in college.

If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money? I’d hire someone who knew how to solve the problem.



What makes you nervous?

Not coming up with an answer for this question.


What makes you happy?

My wife.

What makes you scared?

My wife.

What makes you excited?

My wife.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Aside from practicing law? Yes, bringing up the groceries and feeding the fish in our Koi pond.

Who are you?
The guy not coming up with better answers for these questions.

How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
In a Junior High School class, in the eighth grade. My wife says it was love at first sight for me, but probably not for her.

What are your most cherished mementoes?

The few gadgets I own that probably do what they’re supposed to do without my having to waste my time on getting the promised result. Come to think of it, I don’t have one of those. Could it be . . . me (not a memento, but the explanation of why none of my gadgets work).

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
The wife, of course. She’s going to read this.

What brings you sheer delight?
The wife. Have I overplayed the wife card yet?

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?

Clearly a lonely genius because I’m already a sociable idiot. Could I choose sociable genius?

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“Lawyers, I suppose, where children once.” -Charles Lamb. I use it in the Epigraphs in The Amendment Killer.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

Pacific Palisades, where I live right now.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
I’m debating between “Nice guy” and “Who?”

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It’s my favorite because I can remember it. Besides, how would you feel if I had “Where have you been all this time?”

What would your main character say about you?

Maybe “Nice guy,” but probably “Who?”

How did you create the plot for this book?

Well, just take a look at Washington, D.C. It was a natural. I made the 11-year-old kidnapped youngster diabetic because I’m diabetic.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Cyrus Brooks, the main character in the book was inspired by a real person. Who? Me. Because he had a nice wife. Oh yeah, and because he knew about the law and cared about people and dreamed of being a world class dancer, musician and athlete.

Is your book based on real events?

Well, just take a look at Washington, D.C. and you tell me.

Are you like any of your characters?

Sure. I’m like Cyrus Brooks. We’re both great at whatever we do and have a keen imagination and sense of humor.

Imagine Cyrus has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
He’d take away my gadgets, especially my keyboard.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
Lee Child, John Lescroart, Andrew Gross, Jon Land, and Anthony Franze.

Are these your favorite authors?
Lee Child, John Lescroart, Andrew Gross, Jon Land and Anthony Franze. Because they write well and they think well. Oh yeah, and because they took the time to read The Amendment Killer and say nice things about it.


What book are you currently reading and in what format? 

I only read in e-book. Why? Because my wife is a fast reader and makes me carry a bunch of books whenever we travel. I’m currently reading The Outsider by Anthony Franze because he writes great legal thrillers about the Supreme Court, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie because the English consider it perhaps the finest mystery novel of all time.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
I’m not a fast reader and there’s not enough time in the day (or night) to read as much as I would like.


Do you have a routine for writing?

Not really. I just like to get other things I have to do out of the way so I can lock myself up for an extended period of writing time.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

Where? In front of my laptop, wherever it happens to be. When? Anytime I have the time. Or a deadline.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
That it was a proverbial page turner, but that it also kept people thinking.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
 Scenes where editors told me I was straying from credible reality but I wanted to make them credible nevertheless.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?

Years ago, I was visiting at Yale and had a chance to spend some time in its main library. It was incredible. It seemed to have everything and seemed like what a library should be. It went on and on forever and seemed to have everything a library could possibly have.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Sherlock Holmes.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
That The Amendment Killer is written poorly, plotted childishly and incredibly boring. I dealt with that by recalling all of the wonderful five star reviews I have received on Amazon and Goodreads.

What would your dream office look like?

Like the one I have now, plenty of room for my desk and chair, my computer keyboard and monitor, my other gadgets and my workout equipment. And a nice view of the Pacific Ocean, where I imagine setting the person who said The Amendment Killer is written poorly, plotted childishly and incredibly boring afloat in a tiny dingy without paddle, engine, food or drink.

Sounds like the plot for a new book. What are you working on now?
The Puppet Master, prequel to The Amendment Killer.



READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 am

We have your granddaughter. Here’s what you need to do.
Thomas T. Thomas III reviewed the language. Again. He closed the phone without hitting send. Yet.
He stared through high-powered binoculars from atop the wooded knoll. As always, the girl hit one perfect shot after another.
Cassie Webber. Age 11. He’d been tailing her for three months. It seemed longer.
She was chaperoned everywhere she went. Two-a-day practices before and after school. Her dad drove her in the morning. He watched her empty bucket after bucket and then dropped her off at school. Her mom picked her up after school, ferried her back to the practice range, and brought her home after daughter and coach finished. Mom and daughter sometimes ran errands on the way, but always together. Even on the occasional weekend outing to the mall or the movies, the girl was constantly in the company of family or friends. Having someone hovering over me all day would have driven me batshit.
His childhood had been different. When Thomas was her age, he walked to school on his own. And he lived a lot farther away than the girl. His daddy had never let his driver chauffeur him around. Wasn’t about to spoil him. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Didn’t spoil me that way either.
He kept telling himself patience was the key. But his confidence was waning. And then, suddenly, he’d caught a break. The girl’s routine had changed.
She started walking the few blocks between school and practice on her own. Dad dropped her off at morning practice and Mom met her at afternoon practice instead of school. Only a ten minute walk each way, but that was all the opening he needed.
Everything was finally in place. He would be able to make amends. He would not let them down.
This time.
She completed her morning regimen, unaware of Thomas’s eyes trained on her from his tree-lined vantage point. No doubt about it, he thought to himself. She was incredibly good. Driven. Determined.
And pretty.
Very pretty.
He relieved himself, thinking about her. A long time . . . coming. Haha! As the girl disappeared into the locker room, he trekked back down the hill, and climbed into the passenger side of the van. He returned the binoculars to their case. He removed the cell from his pocket, and checked the pending text one more time.
Moments later, the girl emerged from the locker room, golf bag exchanged for the backpack over her shoulders. She ambled down the winding pathway, waved to the uniformed watchman standing next to the guardhouse, and crossed through the buzzing security gate. She headed off to school.
Without taking his eyes off her, Thomas barked at the man sitting next to him. “Go.”
Chapter 2

Tuesday, May 6, 7:00 am

Eloise Brooks stared at Cyrus and shook her head. After more than 50 years of marriage, she understood everything about him there was to understand. Still: “I take the time to make you a nice breakfast. The least you could do is eat it while it’s hot.”
She held the warm cup of tea in both hands. “And can’t you talk to me, Cyrus? Why do you treat me like I’m not here? Like I’m some kind of a potted plant.”
Cyrus moved the eggs around on his plate. Speared a bite of fruit, swallowed it, but showed no visible pleasure in it. “I’m eating. What do you want to talk about? You think the couple cut from Dancing With The Stars last night deserved to be sent packing?”
“Should have got the hook weeks ago. You dance better than he does. Even with your two left feet.”
He didn’t answer. She knew why. “What’re you thinking about? Esposito? Whether 50,000 is enough? Your two left feet?”
“All of the above.”
She gazed at him but said nothing. Notwithstanding his apparent disinterest in the plate of food in front of him, his appetite—and his imagination—were never-ending. He loved upbeat music and dancing. And sports. He couldn’t carry a tune or dance a lick. Except for an occasional round of golf, his sports these days were mostly played out in front of the television. But that didn’t stop him from daydreaming. He danced like Fred Astaire. He sang and played guitar and harmonica like Bob Dylan. He moved around a tennis court like Roger Federer.
However, Eloise knew his real passion in life was the law. He had enjoyed a distinguished legal career, first as a trial lawyer and then as a U.S. District Court judge. Now retired from the bench, writing and teaching, and occasionally trying a case that got his hackles up, when it came to the law, those who knew Cyrus Brooks knew he was second to none. Amazing how sometimes he exuded that—with confidence bordering on arrogance—but at other times did not. More so since Frank Lotello had been shot, and barely survived.
Brooks sat there fidgeting restlessly with the newspaper. Eloise reached over and put her hand on his. “You’ll be great, Cyrus. I need to walk Ryder and get dressed, so we can drive into Court together. Please make sure Maccabee’s dishes have enough water and dry cat snacks.”
Arguments in the case were scheduled to commence in barely two hours. The chance to appear before the United States Supreme Court was rare, even for Brooks, but to do it in a landmark case that could permanently change the U.S. political landscape was unparalleled.
When they were first married, Eloise often attended Cyrus’s court appearances, both to show her support and because the judicial process was new to her. Now long accustomed to Cyrus’s legal adventures, Eloise was a less frequent visitor to the courtroom. Given the importance of this case, she told Cyrus the night before that she planned to attend.
He looked up absently with a gentle, distant smile, still fixed in some far-off place, no doubt grateful for her efforts to distract him, and bolster his confidence. “Macc’s snacks? Sure.”
Chapter 3

Tuesday, May 6, 7:20 am

Cassie left the practice range, looking momentarily at the clock on her phone. School began at eight. She had plenty of time.
She strolled along the familiar middle-class neighborhood route to school, sticking to the tree-hugged, concrete sidewalk. Well-kept houses on modest-sized manicured lots, one after another, adorned both sides of the paved street that divided the opposing sidewalks.
Mouthing the words to the song streaming through her earbuds, she made a mental note of a few questions from her morning practice to ask Coach Bob that afternoon.
Using her ever present designer sunglasses—a gift from her grandparents—to block the sun’s glare, Cassie texted her best friend Madison:
Hey, BFF, meet u in cafeteria in 10. Out after 1st period to watch ur mom & my poppy in S Ct—how dope is that? 2 excited 4 words!
As she hit “Send,” she was startled by the sound of screeching tires. She looked up from her phone and saw a van skid to the curb a few houses ahead of her. A man in a hoodie jumped out and charged straight at her.
She froze for an instant, but then spun and raced back in the direction of the clubhouse. “Help! Help!! Someone help me!!!”
As she ran, she looked all around. No one. She saw no one. The guard kiosk was in sight, but still over a block away. Does he want to hurt me? Why? Why me?
Hearing the man gaining on her, she tried to speed up. If I can just get close enough to the gatehouse for someone to help me. She glanced back, shrieking at the top of her lungs, just as the man lunged. He knocked her to the ground, shattering her glasses in the process. “What do you want?! Leave me alone! Get off me!!!”
She saw him grappling with a large syringe. “No!” She screamed even louder, clawing and kicking him savagely—until she felt the sharp stab in the back of her neck. Then nothing.
***
Excerpt from The Amendment Killer by Ronald S. Barak. Copyright © 2017 by Ronald S. Barak. Reproduced with permission from Ronald S. Barak. All rights reserved.
 

The Amendment Killer Trailer:





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Described by his readers as a cross between Agatha Christie, Lee Child, and John Lescroart, bestselling author Ron Barak keeps his readers flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night. While he mostly lets his characters tell his stories, he does manage to get his licks in too.

Barak derives great satisfaction in knowing that his books not only entertain but also stimulate others to think about how things might be, how people can actually resolve real-world problems. In particular, Barak tackles the country’s dysfunctional government representatives—not just back-seat driving criticism for the sake of being a back-seat driver, but truly framing practical remedies to the political abuse and corruption adversely affecting too many people’s lives today. Barak’s extensive legal background and insight allow him to cleverly cross-pollinatepollenate his fiction and today’s sad state of political reality.

In his latest novel, The Amendment Killer, Barak calls upon his real world legal ingenuity and skill to craft a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizingcriminalizng political abuse and corruption that Constitutional scholars across the country are heralding as a highly plausible answer to the political chaos destroying the very moral fiber of the country today. It’s difficult to read The Amendment Killer, and not imagine what could—and should—be expected and demanded of those political leaders who have forgotten they are there to serve and not be served.

Barak is also a committed and strident advocate of finding a cure for diabetes. One of the primary characters in The Amendment Killer is the feisty and precocious 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court justice holding the swing vote in a case in which Congress is challenging the validity of Barak’s hypothetical 28th Amendment. It is no small coincidence that Barak is himself a diabetic. Or that he has committed 50% of the net proceeds of The Amendment Killer to diabetes research and education.

Barak is singularly qualified to have authored The Amendment Killer, which will appeal to political and legal thriller aficionados alike. Barak is a law school honors graduate and a former Olympic athlete. While still in law school, he authored a bill introduced in Congress that overnight forced the settlement of a decades long dispute between the NCAA and the AAU to control amateur athletics in the United States.

Present-day politicians would do well to read The Amendment Killer and not underestimate the potential of Barak’s 28th Amendment. You can read his 28th Amendment at ronaldsbarak.com/28th-amendment-page-2. You can also read his occasional political blogs at ronaldsbarak.com/blog.

Ron and his wife, Barbie, and the four-legged members of their family reside in Pacific Palisades, California.

Connect with Ron:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble 

Don't miss your chance to grab a copy of The Amendment Killer during these two great sales!

The Nook audiobook will be $9.99 February 20-26, 2018

and

The Kindle eBook will be $1.99 February 22-28, 2018.






4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this interview. Since I read this book, and had trouble putting it down, I always like to learn more about the author. And Mr. Barak seems to have a great sense of humor!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fun tongue in cheek exchange, thanks to your great questions, Amy.

    ReplyDelete