Overcoming an American President: Making ‘Tail of the Dragon’ novel–metaphor at The White House

At Amazon.com my new book has been sold out for most of 2013 which has qualified Tail of the Dragon for some bulk discounts bringing down the price.  Amazon is now offering Tail of the Dragon for $17.99 on their online store.  I can’t promise that the same price will be held elsewhere as Amazon has a relationship with my distributer and publisher that allows for the price reduction.

I am very proud of the way the novel Tail of the Dragon came about.  Those who have read the book have had wonderful things to say about it, and have enjoyed the contemporary message that is uniquely a mix between Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Smokey and the Bandit.  I did with the novel what I do with most things—I put a lot of effort into the project on the front end.  I am never happy embarking on a creative endeavor from the distance of mere contemplation.  For instance, in the title I am currently working on called The Trial of Fletcher Finnegan, where the entire United States military representing global bank cartels wish to arrest the protagonist for being a flame of liberty in the small, seemingly insignificant town of Fort Seven Mile, Ohio I want to have some authenticity about the character as I write it.  So I tend to incorporate such needs into my research.  In this case it requires me to do things that I cannot say at this time, until some future date, but I do place myself into my character’s shoes whenever I can.  I want to know that what I put to paper is possible, and not just the fantasy of a person locked in psychological duality—where they live one way of life, but write about another.  I want to know that what I write about could happen the way I envision it, and the best way to perform such a thing is to do samplings of the behavior in real life.

For Tail of the Dragon my wife and I rode over 20,000 miles on a motorcycle during one summer.  Even though the novel is about an epic car chase, the essence of the story is about the struggle for real freedom, not just the legal illusion.  That meant I had to understand the idea more than just intellectually—I needed to see and feel it up close.   So we rode our motorcycle from the shores of Lake Erie to the southern tip of Key West and many points in between while I worked out the details in the novel to give the story a uniquely hands on feel.  The result of those journeys can be seen in the below six part video series featuring The Making of Tail of the Dragon.  Click on the videos to watch, and then click on the descriptive text below to revisit the details of each episode.

In Part One, my wife and I visited the actual site of the mythical Tail of the Dragon in the pouring rain riding at elevations over 5000 feet.  This was the first time I had ever visited the road and was scouting for a metaphorical template for which to paint a uniquely American version of freedom upon.   I had heard about the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap in North Carolina, but had to see the place for myself.

In Part Two we approached the Tail of the Dragon from the west across the Cherohala Skyway nick-named the Mile High Legend.  I wanted the car chase in my story to begin on the Skyway which is the only way over the mountains from the west.  At 100 to 200 MPH of speed during the chase landmarks come and go quickly, so I had to have a good feel for the roads in and around the area.

In Part Three, I needed to work out the context of the main character’s obsession with personal freedom.  To accomplish this, my wife and I took a long, hot, and punishing trip to Key West by motorcycle to study a place which is well-known for its love of personal freedom and distrust of politics.

In Part Four, I joined a motorcycle club and became its vice-president participating in a membership ride from Cleveland, Ohio to Freemont just south of Sandusky.  I was working on the problem of individualism over collectivism and had become fascinated by the dual problem present with motorcycle riders where they proclaim to be rugged individualists, yet travel together in packed formations much like birds in flight.  The concept seemed wrong to me, so I explored the idea first-hand.

In Part Five, my daughter rode her first motorcycle on her own with me to Cleveland for a film festival where I was set to pick up an award for a separate project.  We raced up I-71 at speeds exceeding 90 MPH most of the way as time was not on our side.  As a man, I am a risk taker, and that tendency is certainly present in my Tail of the Dragon characters.  But I wanted to explore a trust issue where my wife and daughter needed to trust my recklessness to a new level.  I was working out a problem I was having in the novel and I needed to prove a theory to myself so that I could find the words to articulate the problem for my characters.

In Part Six, I needed to solve a new problem.  The story required a level of fearlessness that comes only to those who really push life to the ultimate limits.  That requires participants to move beyond the social façade most live within their entire lives.  I felt the best way to do this was to go to one of the most haunted places in the country and face down the ghosts that live there.  It was a supernatural themed motorcycle trip that will never be forgotten.

The result of all these trips became the basis for my novel Tail of the Dragon.  I am very proud of the result.   Even though the story is essentially a high-speed car chase and audacious flight from everything representing modern authority, the psychological transformation of the characters required that I put them “above” all established authority known to the present day world from which we live.  Most people recognize the American President of The United States as being the ultimate authority figure on planet earth.  In my story, this meant that my characters had to overcome this figure—at least metaphorically.  I knew I hit the mark when my editor at American Book commented on the scene which took place in The White House with tears of joy.  I further received conformation when the copyeditor hired by American Book to finalize the manuscript wrote me a personal note which can be seen here:

Rich, here’s a lovely comment from the copyeditor to you:

 Mr. Hoffman:  It was very much an honor to work on your book, which I found to be fascinating, thrilling, and insightful.  I found myself pouring through the book, wanting to know what would happen next.  Your book is wonderful on its own, and on top of that, it reminds me of my own parents; I can’t wait to have them read the book once it is printed.  Thank you for the pleasure of being part of such an enjoyable and rewarding process;  I wish you the best of luck! 

 

To get the climax to work in The White House I needed to take the readers to a place that no other mechanism had achieved in society, no song, no movie, no television show, no piece of prior literature—nothing.  My editors on the East Coast are hardly bastions of conservativism.  At the start of the book they were much more aligned with the type of people who voted for Barack Obama than my Tea Party favoring tendencies of Rand and Ron Paul.  What I had to overcome in Tail of the Dragon was this notion that the American President was a figurehead to be worshipped and honored, and that was an idea that transcended any political party known to current society.  The primary antagonist in Tail of the Dragon was willing to do anything to become president.  He was willing to run over anyone anywhere to have the chance to sit in the Oval Office—so to achieve the aims of his political ideology which he had built over a lifetime.  This all comes at the expense of society and the individuals that make it up.  To make my point I had to go beyond this ridiculous notion and place my heroes above all established authority—not as typical outlaws, but as something else—that defied understanding prior to my writing of Tail of the Dragon.

I had the idea in my head, but to put the final touches on it, I can say that those 20,000 miles of motorcycle riding finalized my thoughts into a coherent philosophy that is unique onto itself.  The cure for the human race is to arrive at the mental view-point the President arrived at during the climax of Tail of the Dragon.  And for me to understand that not just conceptually but philosophically required an extraordinary journey both physically and mentally that pushed me to my limits in a unique way so that when I put words to paper the context was created in a way that had never been done before.  My editor’s reaction was the first conformation of that success.  The second has been the slowly building love for the novel by those who have read it, and kept Tail of the Dragon a rare commodity at Amazon.com driving the price down so more people can enjoy the fun, adventure, and philosophy for which it contains. 

You can find Tail of the Dragon at Amazon.com by CLICKING HERE.

 

Rich Hoffman

166701_584023358276159_1119605693_n“If they attack first………..blast em’!”

www.tailofthedragonbook.com

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