by David Marlett
on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019
In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.
In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction-the historical legal thriller-bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.
The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense-a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution-while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone-he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.
David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.
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Q&A with David Marlett
Which of your characters do you like the most and why?
Oh my…well, AMERICAN RED has a host of characters, each with unique traits, strengths, quirks, weaknesses. So, I would be hard pressed to say which one I liked the most. But if you’re asking which one I most enjoyed writing, then that would be Pinkerton Chief Detective James McParland. He was one of AMERICAN RED’s many actual characters from history…a true-to-life man, bold and brazen man—a bit stuck in the late 1800s Wild West, clearly an advocate of “the ends justifying the means”—seeing his career coming to an end—attempting to do what he thinks is right—while all the same being willing to do some quite nefarious acts in the name of the law. I love his single-minded focus in the face of obvious conflicts of loyalty and duty.
Which of your characters do you dislike the most and why?
Clearly that would have to be the two horrific mass murderers: Orchard and Adams. One might think I disliked Haywood—and sure, he was a nasty soul, ordering the death of hundreds. But he was also true to his convictions and was a principle catalyst and advocate for desperately needed improvement of conditions and wages for laborers.
Which of your characters was the hardest to write and why?
Perhaps it was Neva. She was a real person, and the things she went through were actual events, circumstances. She was complex and full of conflict, just like the male counterparts. But sadly there is almost nothing about her in the historical record, so it was a challenge to bring her to life with the best estimation of her personality. Getting her right was central to the success of the whole book, so I would say she was the greatest challenge. I hope I did her justice.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing?
To trust myself. To allow myself to write what I feel and edit later. To let go and let the story and narrative drive the work.
What has been your biggest challenge to your writing career?
Well, that would be much the same as the “biggest lesson”: to trust my research and work and let go—to disappear into the past and write what I discover there.
What was your biggest challenge writing this book?
Developing and getting to know Neva and the other female characters. The men are documented in history, but not the women. In fact, for that reason, I had this book on development hiatus for over a year or more while I tried to find the story I wanted to tell that was beyond just the masculine plot lines.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope they enjoy AMERICAN RED—that is first and foremost. And in that enjoyment, I would like to challenge them to consider the battling conflicts within the story—as reflected in why I chose and designed the cardinals on the cover—the entanglement we all have with ourselves, not just between right and wrong, but in our perceptions of ourselves and our place and purpose in the world—and our willingness to make a difference in the lives of others. Most will read AMERICAN RED for the story that it is, and that is terrific. But perhaps a few will dig deeper into book—beginning with the Overture—and find themselves within the complexities of the tapestry of humanity and challenge themselves as to what they would do in the position of these characters.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I see a terrific ensemble cast for the many characters of AMERICAN RED. As it is currently in discussions for series adaptation, I’ll refrain from weighing in on specific actors/actresses.
Give us an interesting fun fact, or a few, about your book or series.
AMERICAN RED is the first of a series of historical legal thrillers carrying some real and some fictional characters through actual events in the first half of the twentieth century. My next (what I am researching/writing currently), ANGELES LOS, tells the true story at the intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous, 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of American” kingdom. It brings forward a number of characters from AMERICAN RED, most notably Clarence Darrow, Jack Garrett, and Carla Capone.
A great prime rib steak.
Time spent with my kids. Hiking with my dog. Participating in live storytelling events.
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