Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Augustine Sam.
Sam is the author of “The Conspiracy of Silence” (AuthorSuite Books). A bilingual Italian journalist and an award winning poet, he is also a member of the U.K. Chartered Institute of Journalists. Sam was formerly Special Desk editor at THISDAY newspapers, an authoritative Third World daily first published in collaboration with the Financial Times of London. He later became correspondent for central Europe. His poems have been published in two international anthologies: “The Sounds of Silence” and “Measures of the Heart.” One of his poems, Anguish & Passion, was the winner of the Editors’ Choice Awards in the North America Open Poetry contest, USA. Augustine’s debut novel, “Take Back the Memory,” a contemporary Women’s fiction, received a Readers’ Favorite 5-star medal. His second book, “Flashes of Emotion,” a collection of poems, was the 2015 International Book Award Finalist. Sam lives and works in Venice.
“The Conspiracy of Silence” was published last September. Tracy Edingfield, lawyer and author of “The Law Firm of Psycho & Satan,” praised: “This fire-cracker female lead is a force of nature who drives her powerful enemies to their knees. She’s smart, she’s brave. She’s sexy as hell. Sam’s tale of the mob’s tenacious grip on American politics is bared in some of the best courtroom scenes ever written.” Further, TFLReader (Top 500 Reviewer) noted “This is definitely one wild ride from start to finish …”
From the publisher:
SEX SCANDALS IN HIGH PLACES …
An exposé on the murky world of high-stakes politics…a depiction of the life-and-death struggle of a young female lawyer who goes to great lengths to outwit a diabolical trio in order to save her lover from a murder rap.
The conscience of a town steeped in sexism, vanity and hypocrisy is pricked by the brutal murder of a mysterious woman in an LA park. But the shock is transformed into a steamy, seductive scandal when the corpse turns out to be Susan Whitaker, the flamboyant wife of the governor of California.
A secret lover/blackmailer theory leads to the indictment of Hollywood’s most influential black celebrity. It is only the beginning, for Susan Whitaker, in fact, did not exist.
Little does anyone realize that this colossal fraud is a mere curtain raiser to a chilling world of ugly skeletons dating back to the assassination of a U.S. senator in a Washington hotel sauna, skeletons connected to riveting sex scandals in high places, skeletons the FBI and political kingmakers will kill for…
THE CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
Now, Augustine Sam offers up his testimony in the matter of “The Conspiracy of Silence” …
John Valeri: What inspired you to write “The Conspiracy of Silence” – and how did you find the process to compare to that of writing your first novel?
Augustine Sam: Actually, “The Conspiracy of Silence” was motivated by a play I wrote for broadcast many years ago—a 30-minute radio play about a musician accused of a murder he did not commit. His sister, it turned out, was the only person alive who knew he was innocent though the evidence pointed to his culpability; her desperation to prove his innocence, of course, was the core of the play. When it was aired, I felt that it was too short to convey the kind of emotion that should naturally accompany a tense plot such as that, so I decided to write a novel about it with all the powerful ingredients that were missing in the play.
My first novel, “Take Back the Memory” on the other hand, was a different ball game. It involved the creation of a flawed character whose struggles with her inner demons had the sole purpose of helping us, as literature often does, to understand ourselves as humans. It was a kind of psychological exploration of the human mind, in this case, a woman’s mind; a woman unable to fall out of love with her childhood sweetheart who had abandoned her for priesthood. She decided to embark on a very curious kind of vendetta.
In a way, the process of writing both books was similar in that I delved into what some might call political incorrectness.
JV: Your protagonist, Rita Spencer, is a defense attorney. How did you endeavor to get into her head – and where did you draw the line between authenticity and creative license in terms of depicting her profession?
AS: Rita Spencer is thrust into the limelight she dreads by a murder of which her lover is accused. It is important to note two things: (1) she happens to be a good investigator whose strength lies in the kind of dirt she’s able to dig up in any given case, and (2) like any woman in love, she is desperate to save her lover from the murder rap. Based on that premise, the writer in me undertook the pleasurable task of getting into her head through what I would call a normal creative process. The line between authenticity and my creative license in depicting her profession is not drawn but designed to blend with reality. In the evolution of the story, her conduct as a person (or what you might call behind-the-scene maneuver) is distinct from the tricks she pulls in the courtroom, the process of which is presented in as authentic a manner as it is in real life. In fact, one former practicing lawyer describes the legal process portrayed in the book as “some of the best courtroom scenes ever written.” Of course, I am honored by the compliment.
JV: In your opinion, how does setting enhance narrative – and in what ways have your own international experiences informed this work?
AS: The setting of any novel is imperative to the narrative. It highlights the story, makes the characters real and identifiable, gives a greater understanding of the plot, and puts the events in their proper environmental perspective. It is true for all genres including thrillers, which, in addition to the setting, have the advantage of a fast-paced trait that helps the author simulate the mood of his readers by providing that sudden rush of excitement, and exhilaration that eventually drive the narrative.
In answer to the other question, well, the only way I see my international experiences as informing this work is in my ability to free myself from being pigeonholed with a single idea or perspective; it goes a long way to inspire open-mindedness, which I consider healthy for creativity.
JV: Though fiction, your story resonates as timely and topical. How do you see this work as being relevant to the current political climate – and in what ways can fiction be a particularly effective vehicle for illuminating real-life issues?
AS: Literature must be relevant to its times. It must be both timely and timeless. It must resonate with the people and the period in which it is set, and contribute to the discourse, political or otherwise, as well as put events in their proper historical and social contexts. To that extent, I’m glad that this work comes across as topical. I would say it is relevant to the current social and political climate in that it doesn’t shy away from exploring same. Fiction, used properly, can be a very effective vehicle for expounding on real-life issues because it can, by its nature, get away with many things. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be politically correct.
JV: You have a background in journalism and poetry. How do these disciplines influence one another – and what appeals to you about alternating between them?
AS: Though my background in journalism definitely helps in terms of research etc., I generally try not to think as a journalist when engaged in literary writing. Journalists, as someone noted, can be a pretty soul-less bunch at times, and while they are great at communicating hard facts they are often less adept at expressing their feelings and their sensitivities. So, it’s difficult to approach poetry, for example, with the mind-set of a journalist because sometimes with poetry you really must bare your soul. But poetry appeals to me because it brings out thoughts and expressions in ways that other genres suffer deficits. However, it is important to say that my background in both fields does not create any kind of contradiction, in fact, in a curious sort of way, it creates a mental balance for me.
JV: Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?
AS: A new book, of course; I am currently working on the first part of a trilogy that’s a blend of Literary and Romantic Suspense.
With thanks to Augustine Sam for his generosity of time and thought.