My thanks to David Darracott for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about his book, Internal Security.
1. How did you come up with the title?
The title, Internal Security, is a word play on two major themes of the novel. The first is that emotional strength, or internal security, is essential for an individual to tackle life’s harshest challenges. To exercise character when it really counts takes a certain amount of self-assurance, an internal strength that comes from weathering adversity. In this case, the main character is a reporter who must summon all his inner reserves to report an unpopular story that most citizens would just as soon ignore. Secondly, internal security is the phrase used at times to refer to national security when a nation state faces threats from within.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Certainly, I hope readers grasp several messages in reading the book. First and foremost is that of the epigram, that when a major injustice is committed, the victim is not the only one who suffers loss of humanity. The one who commits the injustice also is diminished, made wretched by his own actions. In America, we are responsible for what our government does. As a free society, turning a blind eye does not make injustice okay and it doesn’t make injustice go away. Sometimes, it’s our duty to stand up and oppose a wrong, especially if taking that stand is unpopular.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
This book is mostly realistic. It varies off that path only when the main character survives a few harrowing spots and faces less severe consequences for actions than he would in reality. For example, he is briefly imprisoned for a significant security violation that would typically keep him in jail for years. Occasionally, the need for action requires that some things happen faster than they would normally. Also, I have one evil character who exceeds the normal boundaries of realism. Don’t most villains?
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I wouldn’t change much about this story. I felt it necessary to keep it moving at a fast pace and to sacrifice detail at times. Details that add texture and depth to characters appeal to me personally, and usually I write that way, but it was necessary to make this book read more quickly and stay under one hundred thousand words because the story is so broad in scope. One day I’d like to have the luxury of doing a massive work with far more character development in which length is not a concern.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of this book was dealing with the brutality of the acts done by our own government in the name of national security and the relative indifference of our citizens to that brutality. Americans choose to ignore the reality of our security activities throughout the world, such as our involvement in secret prisons and black operations, all of which we implicitly support through silence. Real people get hurt in the real world, and I didn’t want to treat that pain our government inflicts as an easy thing to dismiss or as an inconvenient sideshow.
Think of the euphemism, “collateral damage.” What an inhuman mangling of honest language that phrase is. People get blown to bits or burned to a crisp when zealots with weapons are given free reign. No matter what uniform they wear or what cause they serve, brutes who trample over non-combatants and abuse innocent civilians are still brutes. They just plain don’t care about other people and those lives; don’t care about the damage they do. Every time a fanatic, or a President, says “let’s go to war” and we acquiesce without serious forethought or debate, lives are ruined.
Another euphemism this book challenges is “water boarding.” It’s not “water boarding”—it’s drowning. The act is literally drowning a fellow human being to a point just short of death and doing it over and over again, thinking it produces a positive result. It doesn’t. Any information it produces is dubious at best. It destroys bodies and minds in the worst possible way and there is no true justification for that. The consequences are real and ruthless, and they are often visited upon the most helpless among us who want no involvement in causes or geopolitics—not just terrorists.
As for writing about this topic, every book with serious intent takes an emotional toll to write, and this one was no exception.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Every book, every story, I learn more about humanity and how I perceive the world. I also learn more about my own shortcomings as a writer and how I can deliberately break through those limitations by hard work and imagination. The writer’s brain is a limitless thing and we are always able to exercise it in ways we never thought possible. The process is magic itself. Endlessly fascinating.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My interest in writing goes all the way back to my teenage years. I first published at eighteen—a poem in a university literary magazine and I never looked back. I remember very clearly the day I decided to write this book. I was reading a thriller by an extremely successful writer, and the book advocated unrestrained violence and murder by a security agent if he even thought it might be in the nation’s interest. I put the book aside in utter dismay that so many of my fellow citizens have come to accept this type of action, and fiction, as legitimate national policy.
Sorry, but that’s just comic book stuff. If you believe it is okay for our country to allow that, then you condone the worst actions by the worst people in history. Hitler thought he was killing and maiming all those people in his country’s best interest, as did Stalin and Mao. The people who were tortured and died under those leaders still suffered pointlessly, just because someone with power thought they should. And the minions who committed those heinous acts were destroyed also. You can’t shoot or torture or burn someone in the name of anything without also damaging yourself. The act itself is self-destructive and soul destroying. Talk to any war-ravaged veteran and you’ll learn that quickly. Yet a whole body of comic book style fiction attempts to glorify and romanticize the perpetrators of such acts as heroes. They’re not heroes. They are tools and victims of a misguided national policy. It’s not “water boarding”; it’s drowning. It’s not “enhanced interrogation”; it’s torture. Brutality in the name of anything is still just brutality when you cut through the justifications.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that strikes you about their work?
Trying to nail my favorite author is pretty near impossible. There have been so many writers through the years who have captivated me for extended periods of time and then I move forward in life and discover others who speak more directly to me at a particular moment. From Fitzgerald to Lawrence to McCarthy, the list goes on. Currently, I’m drawn to the work of Dennis Lehane—not his earlier detective stuff--but his later stand alone works, which are wonderful. The honesty of Larry Brown was arresting and distinctive. Mary Hood writes a spectacular short story. Highly literary work is less and less interesting to me over time because so much of it now is about stylistic fireworks. I still love most everything I re-read by Hemingway and Steinbeck. Some of the recent work by Stephen King is very good. I don’t like the horror genre which makes him too easy to dismiss, so I didn’t read him for years and years, but his variety and command of characters at this stage of his career is truly something.
9. Tell us your latest news.
Getting Internal Security out there and making people aware of it is my main focus right now, and it takes a great deal of time and energy to promote a work if you’re not well known, and I’m not. I like to think it’s an important enough book that it deserves a wide audience, but only readers can decide that and make it happen. I hope people appreciate it enough to create word of mouth. Later this year, I hope to get a second novel, called Wasted, up for sale. It’s finished but I must find the time to prepare it for the marketplace.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Right now, I most want to gain readers, same as every writer. Though I’ve been writing my entire adult life, that work hasn’t yet translated into widespread awareness. It’s such a slow process to build a following and a career in this field; we’d all like to find a way to speed up the works. I just want more people to know about my writing and give it a try. If a reader enjoys what they read, I trust they’ll recommend it and pass it on to their friends and family. I’m not the best at promotion and publicity. Let’s hope the novels I write do a better job at getting known than I do.
About the Book
When a hotel bombing in Daytona Beach kills hundreds, a frightening threat to the nation emerges from the rubble. For a struggling reporter it all adds up to the story of a lifetime. Or does it? A diabolical plot is afoot that threatens the American way of life, and only he can stop it, even though reporting the truth could cost him his life.
The deeper he digs, the more terrifying the threat becomes, but still he tries to untangle the web of secrets, never knowing an even bigger danger awaits him and the country. A mysterious organization is tracking his every move, determined to crush everything he discovers, and they will stop at nothing to shut him up. The fate of the nation hangs in the balance as his worst fears become real.
It’s time to fight back.
Genre: suspense, thriller
Publisher: Lightning Rod Books
Release Date: June 1, 2012 (paperback), also available in ebook format
Buy links: Smashwords, Kindle, Nook
About the Author
David Darracott is a veteran writer who holds a Masters degree in English and received a Hambidge Fellowship for fiction in 2009 and 2010. He is also the author of the novel, Wasted, and numerous short stories. Though fiction is his passion—first, last, and always—fly fishing and golf run a close second. He is a graduate of Emory University and lives in Atlanta. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
Connect with David
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