Bob Graham, a former Democratic Senator from Florida, is promoting his new book, a work of fiction that draws heavily from his years in government service.
Did you reread any favorite authors? When I was in the Senate and before that as governor, you have so much mandatory reading that I didnít find a lot of time for discretionary reading. When I did, it was mainly historical works, but I have read some [John] Grisham, a lot of Carl Hiaasen and a few other what I would call suspense or thriller novelists. And yes, I did learn some techniques from them.
What sort of techniques? The technique of dialogue. Thereís a tendency, I found when I started writing, to write dialogue more as if it were a briefing session, a long stilted block of conversation. I started through reading how other novelists dealt with dialogue and, frankly, just listening to how people talk to see that they donít talk in long paragraphs and frequently donít talk in sentence length and the language which is used tends to be more colloquial than academic.
How has the book been received? Itís been very strong. Iíve been on a promotional tour since the 6th of June. This period here is the first little downtime, and itís been very well received commercially and, with some exceptions, critically.
What a lot of people comment on is the fact that this book has given them an insight into important events of recent American history, generally starting with the buildup to 9/11, and some analysis of future events, such as post-U.S. involvement in Iraq and why Pakistan is maybe the most dangerous country in the world.
Has there been any talk of movie rights? Iíve been approached by one person who has been both a producer and a screenwriter, but I told him I wanted to wait until after Labor Day because Iíve got more promotional activities ó Iím going to be ... in Washington on Aug. 1 at the National Press Club and then the following day in Baltimore, so Iíve got a lot of things like that that run through Labor Day and right now, itís the book thatís my focus.
Who would you like to play the Senator in the movie? Robert Redford. Well, heís about the right age, a little bit younger. Iíve always liked his style. Unfortunately, he wonít be on the screen very long ó the Senator gets run over by a truck fairly early in the novel, and other than his funeral, he disappears.
Did you have yourself in mind when you wrote the Sen. Billington character? I have to say there are some similarities with Sen. Billington, but there also are differences ó most significant is he is dead and I am not.
Whatís fictional and whatís not? Itís not that one part of the book is all fact or another part is all fiction. They are weaved together, but the most significant factual parts involve the degree to which the Saudi government and entities affiliated with the Saudi government assisted two of the 19 hijackers, raising the question of why did they do it, and did they provide similar assistance to the other 17 hijackers and why did the United States government go to such lengths to hide the connection to the Saudi government?