Author: Steve Silkin
Page count: 228
Genre: Political thriller
Steve Silkin was born in New York and grew up in Los Angeles, then spent most of his 20s in Europe. He rode his bicycle from Paris to Barcelona, worked at a bed and breakfast in London, studied at La Sorbonne and started a career in journalism at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He has stood at the edge of the Sahara and consulted the oracle at Delphi. But his proudest moment came when he escaped arrest for trespassing at a skyscraper under construction by fleeing from the LAPD on his bicycle. He has worked as a reporter and editor at various publications in Southern California since the late 1980s.
Tell us about your book:
Sex, drugs and election fraud: The Cemetery Vote is the story of Jace, a disenchanted drug dealer, and Dan, a fired cop. Jace is recruited to ferry day laborers for ballot box stuffing. Dan is trying to become an Internet porn mogul, but also launches a plot to extort a million dollars from a losing candidate by selling him fake evidence that the election was stolen. Everything goes wrong. Jace and Dan will cross paths. Can they save themselves, or will they destroy each other? It’s a political thriller with philosophical underpinnings – plus a love story, or rather two or three or four of them.
How long did it take to write the book?
I had thought about it for a few years. I wrote it in a little more than a year.
What inspired you to write the book?
Oh, many things. A U.S. Senate candidate refused his defeat in an election after he’d spent millions and millions in the campaign, claiming voting fraud. I thought he’d be willing to pay for proof, and an extortionist might want to take advantage of that – even if it meant fabricating evidence. But being that I’m not a criminal, I decided to write about such a plot instead of translating my fantasy into reality. Then I heard about the drug-dealing misadventures of one of my high school classmates, and decided to model one of the two main characters on him.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
Once I had a rough outline, I went into work an hour early two or three times a week and tried to write a chapter per week. At that rhythm, I would have been finished in about six months. I couldn’t keep up the pace, though, often I was too busy so sometimes a week or two went by without any progress. I had worked as an editor and a reporter at a small city in Southern California for six years . I tried to put many of the interesting things I learned there in the book. While I wrote the book, I verified some information about election laws, certain election results and campaign spending with Internet research and a call to the county clerk. For some details about Poland during martial law – part of the backstory of one of the characters – I called the Polish consulate to ask about newspapers that were published at the time. I interviewed the cultural affairs attaché – whose father had been a journalist in those days! She gave me many more details than I had hoped for, and those are included.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope that they come away with new questions into the political tensions that exist between citizens and business interests. I hope that they come away with new questions about immigration in the United States. I hope they get a few good laughs, I hope they enjoy being exposed to new information, I hope they are moved.
Where can we go to buy your book?
The Cemetery Vote for other e-readers: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29339/
In paperback: http://stores.lulu.com/silkin/
Excerpt from book:
“Well, I don’t know,” she said. “They said they wanted someone really good who wasn’t in politics. Someone who could do a bunch of stuff real quick.”
“What’s ‘a bunch of stuff?’ ”
“I don’t know. It’s for Election Day. But there’s some stuff to do beforehand. They asked me if I knew anybody who was pretty cool, could be low key, y’know, and was smart.”
“Low key? What’s that mean?”
“Well, I don’t know, I think they said: ‘Someone who can keep his mouth shut.’ ”
“Well, that I can do.”
But he thought to himself: Uh-oh. Sounds like another “job” I won’t be able to put on a resume.