Blog

  • Back Channel

    Thursday July 10, 2014

    Thanks for visiting. I'd like to take a moment and introduce my new novel, Back Channel, a thriller set against the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    The novel rests on two historical facts: We know from Robert Dallek's biography that President John Kennedy had an affair with a 19-year-old White House intern. We also know from the established record that behind the negotiations to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis was a second negotiation -- the "back channel" -- kept secret even from most of Kennedy's closest advisers.

    The back channel negotiation involved a journalist trusted by the Kennedys and a man named Aleksandr Fomin, head of the KGB's Washington station.

    My fictional premise is simple: Suppose that the affair with the intern was a cover for the back channel negotiation? And suppose that the intern was a young black woman?

    With this premise established, the rest of the story swiftly suggested itself. Some of the characters my loyal readers will recognize. For example, we meet the family of Kimmer Madison (The Emperor of Ocean Park; New England White) back when Kimmer was a toddler known as Kimberly. We encounter Jericho Ainsley, of Jericho's Fall. And fans of Palace Council will remember Tori Elden, who plays an important role here.

    As in my previous novels, the story is also stocked with real people -- not only the Kennedys and Fomin, but also, for example, Bobby Fischer, who at the time was 19-years old and the chess champion of the United States. There are plenty of new characters as well, including my first-ever female spymaster, an old World War II hand named Harrington.

    Most important, there is the protagonist, Margo Jensen, a college student who finds both her courage and her intellect tested constantly as she is thrust unwillingly into the center of great events. She must risk her life as Kennedy's envoy and risk her reputation as (supposedly) Kennedy's lover, all the while seeking to uncover the hidden connection between her own family's past and the crisis unfolding around her.

    I had great fun both researching and writing Back Channel. I hope you will enjoy it. Do take the time to let me know what you think. And, as always, thanks for reading.

    Posted by Stephen Carter at 09:26pm