The smoke was still rising from the rubble at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks when Houston news reporter Tom Abrahams hit the scene and went to work. During his 20 year long career as a journalist, Abrahams has interviewed American Presidents, traveled with presidential candidates, and witnessed high ranking officials appear at the U. N. Security Council regarding the war against Iraq. Those experiences served him well when he started writing his first novel, Sedition, A Political Thriller. The book's plot is based on the real life Cato Street Conspiracy, an 1820's plot to overthrow the British government by patriots unhappy with English politics after the death of King George III. Abrahams found out about Cato Street while reading one day. "It was just a little footnote, about this conspiracy. When I looked into it, it was fascinating.
"I knew I didn't know enough to write a novel set in 19th century England, but given the situation in our country right now, the large amounts of people who are dissatisfied with the direction Washington is taking, the story seemed very relevant. The book asks the question what is it to be a patriot? Can you love your country so much that you would be willing to harm your country? Every character in the book is a patriot in their own way, they care about this country. They want it to work."
Abrahams updated the story to contemporary America. As with the real conspiracy, the leader of the nation has just died and there's no clear successor (a new vice president had been named but not sworn in at the time of the death). Factions see the confusion as a chance to grab power and put their own leader in the presidency, circumventing the succession issue.
"There's an homage to Cato Street throughout the book. Characters have the same names as some of the Cato Street plotters, they have some of the same professions. And because this story is set in Washington and there's no Cato Street in Washington, I created the Cato Street Pub for the book."
What He Does: It doesn't matter if he's wearing his "journalist" or "novelist" hat, Abrahams is a storyteller. "Sometimes I tell a story in two minutes of air time, sometimes in a novel."
Why He Likes It: "I love history and politics and the way governments and people work - or don't work - together. To be able to tell stories inside those perimeters is great for me. I especially like being able to merge fiction and history, to tell a story that's plausible. This [plot] could happen in real life. Actually, it already did."
What Inspires Him: "History inspires me," he says. And, as Abrahams said he found out while writing Sedition, his characters inspire him. "The book went places that I didn't expect it to go. I let the characters dictate where the book went to a degree and that was fun. These characters in some ways dictated how I ended up writing the book. They're creations of my imagination, so that they decided the direction or plot of the book, was really surprising...I feel like I should be wearing a straitjacket when I say that," he laughs.
If Not This, Then What: Abrahams is already living out his if not this, then what plan. He wanted to be a journalist and became one. Then he wanted to become a novelist and became one. Doing both at the same time saves him from having to make a choice about which one he'd choose, though he admits "it would be nice to write full time."
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If Not Here, Then Where: Houston is fine for Abrahams right now. He enjoys spending time in Washington and traveling for his job as a newscaster, but he concedes that Houston's slower pace has its own charm.
What's Next: Abrahams is busy working on marketing Sedition, building a reader base through social media and online resources (the book's website includes photographs of the art and locations mentioned along with copies to the historic documents it references). (Very much a technology-savvy writer, Abrahams set up a real website to mirror the fictional one he website even "author-graphs" e-books for readers.) And he's already at work on his second novel.
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