Edelweiss

The Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence
The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

Friday, November 8, 2013

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT AND INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN SLOATE- AUTHOR OF FORWARD TO CAMELOT

I am so excited to welcome back bestselling author Susan Sloate. She is with us today to talk out the 50th Anniversary Edition of FORWARD TO CAMELOT.
Welcome Susan!
How did you first become interested in the JFK assassination?
I was always interested; I just didn’t always realize it. I was six when Kennedy died, and the event apparently had a huge impact on me. Several years later my mother started learning to bake bread. At one point in the process, she had what looked like a thick log on a pan and she covered it with a kitchen towel to let it rise. Well, her towels had thin horizontal stripes on them, and every time I looked at that bread rising, I thought of the aerial photo of Kennedy’s body lying in state under the US flag. (I must have seen it in LIFE Magazine, which we subscribed to at the time.) So it was really never far from my consciousness. As I got older I started reading about it, and got really interested in exploring the conspiracy theories around it. Some sounded more plausible than others, and when I had the idea for CAMELOT, it became a great excuse to really dig into it.

Why do you think so many people are still interested in what happened that day in Dallas in 1963?
I’m sure the answers are different for different people; for me it’s a significant event in my own life, the first time in my lifetime that an event mesmerized the entire nation—and the world. For some people who weren’t born at the time, it’s a fascinating time in history; others are just crazy about Kennedy and this event still saddens them. Others are drawn in because of the impact it had on the news media and how it suddenly came of age during that weekend. And always, there’s the thought that he had so much promise—would he really have been able to fulfill it all? (For the record, I don’t think anyone could have; our expectations were so high that it just wasn’t possible.)

The theories addressed in "FORWARD TO CAMELOT", are in my opinion totally plausible. Do you believe in the Cuba angle yourself or was that just a theory you chose for the book?
No, we really believe it. (That’s obviously why we chose it for the book.) Cuba tends to get passed over in the research community because it’s so insignificant today; the country’s been destroyed by Castro and is no threat to us at all now. But it was a very serious topic at the time, and the Kennedy Administration was very involved in Operation Mongoose, the plot to kill Castro.

I loved the references to Jim Garrison. Did you agree with his indictment of Clay Shaw?
Of course. Garrison was heroic throughout the entire process, even though they made it as hard as possible for him. Shaw was guilty as hell, but he was being protected by colleagues at the CIA. If Garrison had had access to witnesses who could really have pointed fingers at Shaw, Shaw would have gone to prison for life, assuming he wasn’t executed. But the powers that be were too powerful, and they did too much to intimidate and cover up. They literally got away with murder.

Once the documents concerning the JFK assassination are made public, do you think they will shed any new light on what happened in 1963?
People don’t realize that most of those documents have already been made public. The trick is to know what you’re looking for. OSWALD TALKED, a terrific book by Ray and Mary LaFontaine, discussed a number of very important items they found after the release of a batch of files. Knowing what they were looking at when they found them made it possible to piece together a lot of critical information about the gunrunning and the whole Mongoose operation. And they managed to tie Oswald to all of that; it’s a critical discovery but of course got almost no coverage at all, though the implications are mind-blowing.

Have you ever day dreamed about time travel? What other period of time would you like to visit if you could?
It was my own daydreams about traveling back to 1963 to save Kennedy myself that led to the idea for CAMELOT in the first place. At first it was me doing all this, and then I began to distance myself from it and created a character to do it in my place. And that’s how CAMELOT came about. I’d love to travel to other time periods – would love to see small and large moments in history and yes, affect them if I could. I’d love to go back to Riverside, California in September 1939 for the first-ever audience screening of GONE WITH THE WIND, just to watch the reaction. I’d love to go back to the War of 1812, watch the Star-Spangled Banner being sewn, then written about by Francis Scott Key. Too many other places to list here, but yes, I’d love to do it!

Would you like to see this book finally make it to the big screen?
I’d love it. And we actually had a production company come to us back in 2004, wanting to make it. They couldn’t put the deal together but they loved the book and felt it would be great on the big screen. Fortunately Kevin and I are both screenwriters as well as novelists, so we could do the adaptation and I think do the book justice. Let’s see if any producers out there want to take a whack at it!

Do you think time travel will ever become a reality and should we really mess around with the past?
Scientists now are experimenting with it and apparently have had some success. I don’t understand the mechanisms involved, but they’re definitely getting closer to making something happen in that arena. But I’ve come to realize that sometimes awful things happen for a reason, they need to happen so we can make important changes in our world. The sinking of the Titanic led to much better maritime safety laws. Who knows how many lives were saved because of the lifeboat regulations put in place after that disaster? We’ll never know. Or the fact that the creation of the state of Israel wouldn’t have been possible—except for the horror of the Holocaust, which brought home to nations around the world the need for a Jewish homeland. We all hate to admit it, but sometimes letting those things happen is harder than interfering.

What are you working on now?
My next novel will be a relationship-driven story about a candidate for public office and the female campaign manager with whom he has a tumultuous relationship. It’s based on my own experiences running two political campaigns and has a lot of large and small details about my own life in it. (I love doing that; so much easier than having to make it all up!) In that sense, it’s much more like STEALING FIRE, another novel you reviewed recently, which is relationship-driven and emotional. After that, though, there’ll be another Cady novel, a fully-realized sequel to FORWARD TO CAMELOT. It’s not about the Kennedy assassination, but it does follow Cady as she returns from her adventure in Dallas and tries to go on with her life.
 
Do you have quote you would like to share?

There are lots of quotes I like, but I’ll leave you with two, which I think are both applicable to our experience with FORWARD TO CAMELOT. One is the quote that opens the novel, from Kennedy himself: "We celebrate the past to awaken the future." And given how difficult it was to accomplish all that I think we did with this novel, I have to close with my favorite Walt Disney quote: "It’s kind of fun to do the impossible."

Thanks for hosting me, Julie – so happy to be here and so thrilled that you enjoyed both STEALING FIRE and FORWARD TO CAMELOT!
How did you first become interested in the JFK assassination?
I was always interested; I just didn’t always realize it. I was six when Kennedy died, and the event apparently had a huge impact on me. Several years later my mother started learning to bake bread. At one point in the process, she had what looked like a thick log on a pan and she covered it with a kitchen towel to let it rise. Well, her towels had thin horizontal stripes on them, and every time I looked at that bread rising, I thought of the aerial photo of Kennedy’s body lying in state under the US flag. (I must have seen it in LIFE Magazine, which we subscribed to at the time.) So it was really never far from my consciousness. As I got older I started reading about it, and got really interested in exploring the conspiracy theories around it. Some sounded more plausible than others, and when I had the idea for CAMELOT, it became a great excuse to really dig into it.

Why do you think so many people are still interested in what happened that day in Dallas in 1963?
I’m sure the answers are different for different people; for me it’s a significant event in my own life, the first time in my lifetime that an event mesmerized the entire nation—and the world. For some people who weren’t born at the time, it’s a fascinating time in history; others are just crazy about Kennedy and this event still saddens them. Others are drawn in because of the impact it had on the news media and how it suddenly came of age during that weekend. And always, there’s the thought that he had so much promise—would he really have been able to fulfill it all? (For the record, I don’t think anyone could have; our expectations were so high that it just wasn’t possible.)

The theories addressed in "FORWARD TO CAMELOT", are in my opinion totally plausible. Do you believe in the Cuba angle yourself or was that just a theory you chose for the book?
No, we really believe it. (That’s obviously why we chose it for the book.) Cuba tends to get passed over in the research community because it’s so insignificant today; the country’s been destroyed by Castro and is no threat to us at all now. But it was a very serious topic at the time, and the Kennedy Administration was very involved in Operation Mongoose, the plot to kill Castro.

I loved the references to Jim Garrison. Did you agree with his indictment of Clay Shaw?
Of course. Garrison was heroic throughout the entire process, even though they made it as hard as possible for him. Shaw was guilty as hell, but he was being protected by colleagues at the CIA. If Garrison had had access to witnesses who could really have pointed fingers at Shaw, Shaw would have gone to prison for life, assuming he wasn’t executed. But the powers that be were too powerful, and they did too much to intimidate and cover up. They literally got away with murder.

Once the documents concerning the JFK assassination are made public, do you think they will shed any new light on what happened in 1963?
People don’t realize that most of those documents have already been made public. The trick is to know what you’re looking for. OSWALD TALKED, a terrific book by Ray and Mary LaFontaine, discussed a number of very important items they found after the release of a batch of files. Knowing what they were looking at when they found them made it possible to piece together a lot of critical information about the gunrunning and the whole Mongoose operation. And they managed to tie Oswald to all of that; it’s a critical discovery but of course got almost no coverage at all, though the implications are mind-blowing.

Have you ever day dreamed about time travel? What other period of time would you like to visit if you could?
It was my own daydreams about traveling back to 1963 to save Kennedy myself that led to the idea for CAMELOT in the first place. At first it was me doing all this, and then I began to distance myself from it and created a character to do it in my place. And that’s how CAMELOT came about. I’d love to travel to other time periods – would love to see small and large moments in history and yes, affect them if I could. I’d love to go back to Riverside, California in September 1939 for the first-ever audience screening of GONE WITH THE WIND, just to watch the reaction. I’d love to go back to the War of 1812, watch the Star-Spangled Banner being sewn, then written about by Francis Scott Key. Too many other places to list here, but yes, I’d love to do it!

Would you like to see this book finally make it to the big screen?
I’d love it. And we actually had a production company come to us back in 2004, wanting to make it. They couldn’t put the deal together but they loved the book and felt it would be great on the big screen. Fortunately Kevin and I are both screenwriters as well as novelists, so we could do the adaptation and I think do the book justice. Let’s see if any producers out there want to take a whack at it!

Do you think time travel will ever become a reality and should we really mess around with the past?
Scientists now are experimenting with it and apparently have had some success. I don’t understand the mechanisms involved, but they’re definitely getting closer to making something happen in that arena. But I’ve come to realize that sometimes awful things happen for a reason, they need to happen so we can make important changes in our world. The sinking of the Titanic led to much better maritime safety laws. Who knows how many lives were saved because of the lifeboat regulations put in place after that disaster? We’ll never know. Or the fact that the creation of the state of Israel wouldn’t have been possible—except for the horror of the Holocaust, which brought home to nations around the world the need for a Jewish homeland. We all hate to admit it, but sometimes letting those things happen is harder than interfering.

What are you working on now?
My next novel will be a relationship-driven story about a candidate for public office and the female campaign manager with whom he has a tumultuous relationship. It’s based on my own experiences running two political campaigns and has a lot of large and small details about my own life in it. (I love doing that; so much easier than having to make it all up!) In that sense, it’s much more like STEALING FIRE, another novel you reviewed recently, which is relationship-driven and emotional. After that, though, there’ll be another Cady novel, a fully-realized sequel to FORWARD TO CAMELOT. It’s not about the Kennedy assassination, but it does follow Cady as she returns from her adventure in Dallas and tries to go on with her life.
 
Do you have quote you would like to share?

There are lots of quotes I like, but I’ll leave you with two, which I think are both applicable to our experience with FORWARD TO CAMELOT. One is the quote that opens the novel, from Kennedy himself: "We celebrate the past to awaken the future." And given how difficult it was to accomplish all that I think we did with this novel, I have to close with my favorite Walt Disney quote: "It’s kind of fun to do the impossible."

Thanks for hosting me, Julie – so happy to be here and so thrilled that you enjoyed both STEALING FIRE and FORWARD TO CAMELOT!

Thanks so much Susan for taking time out to answer a few questions for us today.
Forward to Camelot is available in the Amazon Kindle Store.

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