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Nathan A. Goodman
What sets The Fourteenth Protocol apart from other thrillers?
There are a lot of really great thrillers out there. And the most popular of them become runaway Hollywood blockbusters. But, they all started out as just humble paperbacks. So how does an author create an amazing story that will put a reader into that space in between not wanting to put the book down, and being afraid to turn the next page? It’s a lot about how well the author can put the reader in touch with the character. If the reader can really see the character as a regular person, and not super-human, then they identify with the character and feel an emotional connection. The connection is the key. Once the reader connects with the character, they care about them. Caring leads to emotions and emotions lead to an escape, which is exactly what the reader picked up the book for in the first place.
Here are some points that separate The Fourteenth Protocol
The Fourteenth Protocol centers on real people
The main character is a young woman named Jana Baker, caught in the midst of the most trying time in her life. Women readers identify with her because she has the same life experiences as many other women, and thus Jana feels real to them. As young Agent Baker privately rages against the male-dominated world of the FBI, women all over the world feel Jana’s struggle as they identify identical struggles of their own in the male-dominated workplace, and in their everyday lives.
But, The Fourteenth Protocol isn’t just about the situation. Its about facing down loss, facing down your parents expectations, proving yourself, rising above your worst fears, and moving on with your life. It’s also about coming into your own.
Nothing strikes at our gut like the betrayal of a government conspiracy. Readers have become accustomed to real conspiracies unfolding on the nightly news, but in The Fourteenth Protocol, the conspiracy is just believable enough to push a sharp pain into the reader’s psyche. The reader questions who to trust and wonders if this could really happen.
Mixed with Terrorism
Readers today know that the new normal for our lives is terrorist are here to stay. But what if they lived among us? Is it possible that our neighbor, coworker, or bus driver is a member of a hidden sleeper cell? When the reader launches themselves into the pages of The Fourteenth Protocol, they find themselves looking over their shoulder and wondering. It’s that kind of reality that the story brings.
The NSA and Edward Snowden
Many months before Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency, the author was deep into weaving an NSA tapestry across the pages of The Fourteenth Protocol. Before Snowden told us the truth, the story reveals what many of us have always known – that the NSA scans our emails, text messages, and phone calls, looking for patterns and keywords, hoping to unmask a terrorist who is attempting to hide amongst the chatter. The reader will question their initial reaction to Snowden, and will wonder if the NSA invading our privacy is a bad thing, or if it’s just a necessary evil that is part of the new normal.
Why did you write the book?
I have two children, both are girls. My first goal was to write a story of triumph that would illustrate just what the two of them will be capable of in their coming lives. In particular, I wanted to show them a strong female that would scrap her way through a man’s world, and come out an equal. The main character is Jana Baker, a fledgling FBI agent, surrounded by a double standard. She’s a young woman in the boys club of the FBI, so not only does she have to deal with the dangers, she’s got to deal with male coworkers who value a female agent less as compared to a male. I wanted my girls to see that these stereotypes exist, and yet, with guts and determination, they can blast though anything they set their minds to.
My second goal was to do something fulfilling for myself. I had a story to tell and I wanted to tell it. And, I wanted to hold a printed copy of my own novel in my hands and quietly think to myself, wow, I did this. Looking back on it, the first goal was harder than the second.
My third goal was to entertain the reader and take them on a thrill ride that might even make them think of their own mortality. There are subtle undertones in the book that hint at the existence of heaven. Did you spot them all? It’s not a book about God and heaven, instead it’s a thriller, steeped in conspiracy, secrecy, terrorism, and mainly, good versus evil. But keep a watch for images of grandfatherly figures that Jana comes into contact with. They resemble her own grandfather who raised her. He passed away several years ago. Is he watching over Jana now? And, the imagery of what Jana sees of heaven will make the reader consider what heaven really is. Did someone watch over you as a child? What did that person mean to you? What would you give for just a few more minutes with them? Jana faces these questions and so does the reader.
What roadblocks did you run into in the writing of this novel?
Since The Fourteenth Protocol was my first novel, I had several things blocking my path. How would I find the time to write a novel? How do you write a novel anyway? What if I wrote it, and everyone hated it? How do I prevent it from looking like a freshman novel? I’m sure many others have faced the same things. I didn’t even know where to begin.
Besides just telling the story, what were you trying to communicate in the writing?
This novel isn’t young adult, but in it, I was trying to say to my kids that in no uncertain terms, life isn’t about not trying, it’s about doing. Life isn’t about whether you fell down or not, it’s about whether you got back up.
So how did I write a novel to convey those life examples when: I didn’t know how, I didn’t think I had the time, and, oh, by the way, I didn’t even have a story yet?
Well, I begin by following one of my favorite rules of life: Experience is the best teacher, as long as it’s someone else’s experience. What does that mean? Well, it means you avoid mistakes by seeking out someone who’s gone before you, and find out how they did it. My choice was the author Stephen King who wrote a book called On Writing. The book was a revelation. Once I knew what to do, the rest just fell into place. The barriers came down. Suddenly, I knew it was possible. I didn’t have to create the entire story first, I didn’t have to create an extensive outline, I didn’t have to spend hours a day writing, and, I didn’t have to know every little thing about grammar, punctuation, and Chicago Style. Once liberated from those bonds, I started writing a little bit every day, and, I didn’t stop for nine months.
What will the reader feel when reading The Fourteenth Protocol?
The reader will walk away feeling exhilarated. Like there’s a hope out there no matter what. Hope will find you, if you only let it. In the end of the story, no matter what happens to the main character, Jana Baker, the reader knows Jana did more than just live, she fought. There’s a line of dialog in the book that says “…guts is enough.” Well, I want my kids to take that to heart. Some things in life take guts. Jana has guts, and when a person is willing to jump into something they fear, propelling themselves forward by guts alone, then guts is enough. In the end, it won’t matter if you’ve been successful in your endeavor, as long as you tried. There’s nothing worse than not having tried, and looking back on it for the rest of your life with regret. Regret is poisoned soup for the weak, and I want my kids to triumph above it.
When writing, do you plan the story in advance?
Stories are things to be discovered, or excavated. They aren’t planned. I believe that planning the story and setting up a plot in advance pigeon-holes the story into going down a predetermined path that limits creativity. Stories are things created on the fly. Do you have a story in you? The story is already inside there, deep down. As an author, it’s your job to slowly uncover the story that exists somewhere within.
When I write a scene, I often close my eyes which helps me see the vivid details I’d like to portray in the story. As part of that, I’ve learned that I have the capacity to become emotionally attached to my characters. During the creation of this novel, they became a part of me. I physically felt their fears, celebrated their victories, and wept at their loss. I’ve also learned what a great feeling it is to have an outlet to unleash creativity while giving life to something of my own making.
We have two beautiful daughters, both teenagers. The book is dedicated to the three of them, and to the men and women who have sacrificed and paid the price for our freedom.
I enjoyed the free-flowing feel of creating the story on the fly. I didn’t pre-plan the entire thing in advance, and that gave me the freedom to take the story in directions I never could have envisioned when I started. I also enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when it was done. I felt like I’d created something special out of nothing.
Book Cover Art and Author Photos
To make your job easier, I have included downloadable artwork of the book cover below in both low-and hi-resolution formats. Click on the image first, then right click on the resulting image and choose “Save Link As” to download to your computer.