Dragon Head the novelLeaked emails reveal an embarrassed and angry U.S. Secretary of the Exterior, Jasmine Minnette-Rice, railing against bestselling novelist, James Houston Turner and his fictional spy hero, Aleksandr Talanov.

“Aleksandr Talanov makes us look bad!” a boiling Minnette-Rice was overheard yelling. “Why the hell do you think my office, the Secretary of the Exterior, exists? To make us look good! And Talanov makes us look bad. How the hell can we look good if Turner, by way of Talanov, exposes what things are really like in this town?”

Undisclosed sources say the secretary was angered further by an anonymous photo of Turner’s book cover, which prompted Minnette-Rice to blast Turner for daring to suggest a former KGB colonel, who became a spy for America during the Cold War, could now help the American intelligence community bring down enemies the Soviets helped train. “Don’t you get it?” Minnette-Rice hissed. “We do things a certain way here in Washington, and Talanov is constantly springing into action to help people when he should be operating by established political protocols.”

In Dragon Head, which will be published in 2017, Talanov violates a direct order from the Director of National Intelligence to abandon an orphaned child deemed unimportant in the scope of a national security crisis, with other novels in the series chronicling how Talanov and his team, who now consult for the United States, are able to hack into the networks of organized crime and terrorist cell groups once trained by the Soviets.

U.S. Secretary of the Exterior, Jasmine Minnette-Rice

U.S. Secretary of the Exterior, Jasmine Minnette-Rice

Minnette-Rice dismissed claims that Washington politicians were for the most part indecisive, craven, inept, ineffective and diminutive.” When asked by an aide what diminutive meant, the secretary threw up her hands and said, “Exactly my point! He uses big words designed to make us look bad. Well, that ends, right here and now,” whereupon Minnette-Rice vowed to not read another Talanov novel as long as she was in office, with exclusions allowed for long trips and bedtime. “If that’s not being decisive, I don’t know what is.”

When asked what she planned to do next, Minnette-Rice said she wasn’t sure, but that the issue would be referred to committee for further discussions before being tabled pending a full investigation and further talks, and, contingent on the outcome of those deliberations, assigned to the docket of a special litigation task force charged with determining what subsequent steps should be taken, if any.

 

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James Houston Turner works really, really long hours at a laptop writing novels and screenplays, and when he feels like he’s going crazy, he concocts something goofy and spoofy in order to maintain sanity. This has been one of those tales.

To visit James on Facebook, click here: https://www.facebook.com/officialjameshoustonturner
To visit James on IMDb, click here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7558095/

 

Dragon Head Book CoverJAMES HOUSTON TURNER’S upcoming thriller, Dragon Head — due for release in 2017 — has been adapted for the big screen. 

Picking up where his acclaimed novels, Department Thirteen and Greco’s Game leave off, Dragon Head will take readers on an emotional, whitewater ride from the atmospheric streets of San Francisco to the exotic bustle of Shanghai, with Turner’s signature hero, former KGB Colonel Aleksandr Talanov, caught between an organized crime boss and the Director of National Intelligence in this “Bond-meets-Bourne-meets-Taken” story of survival, loyalty, and the meaning of family.

Utilizing heroes and villains encountered in his bestselling thriller, November Echo, Turner accepted the challenge to write the screenplay himself, having already authored several other scripts. “Dragon Head took me a year to complete,” Turner says from his home in Austin, Texas. “That’s because I took time to gather feedback along the way from professionals a lot more skilled in filmmaking than I.” That list includes directors Phillip Noyce and Bill Rahn, actors Adoni Maropis and Vanessa Ore, and Executive Director of the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, Kristin Overn.

“These people were more than gracious to read Dragon Head.  It was a huge favor … a sacrifice … a labor of love. Respecting their time and expertise means taking their feedback seriously. I did, and that led to several rewrites and edits of those rewrites. And that’s on top of all the other rewrites! A writer has to be a good listener, and be willing to consider feedback to the strengths and weaknesses of his or her story. Editors — and that’s what these people were in a very real sense — see what authors don’t — or don’t want to — see. That’s why it’s so important to have skilled professionals on your team.”

Turner will also serve as one of the executive producers for the project, where he will offer creative and marketing input.

“I’ve been asked whether my having a Russian as the story’s hero might turn away American audiences. I answer, ‘Not at all. No one is turned away by James Bond being British, or Jackie Chan being Chinese, or Pavel Chekov being Russian in Star Trek, or Natalia Romanova (AKA “the Black Widow”) being Russian in the Avengers, Iron Man II, and Captain America films [a role played by Scarlett Johansson].’ Plus, that’s the way it happened in real life, years ago, when I was a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain. Those activities landed me on a KGB watchlist, which was not at all surprising. What was surprising was the heroic response of an actual KGB agent in Moscow, who leaked word to me through a network of secret contacts that I was being followed in San Diego, where I was living at the time. That act of heroism — he could have been executed for what he did — gave me the idea of a good-guy KGB agent who became a spy for America.

“And that is precisely what I have done in my Talanov thriller series of novels — created a Russian good-guy hero who has resonated with fans across America and around the world — and that is precisely what we are going to be doing for movie-going audiences with this film, which we hope will be the first in a successful franchise of films.

“Will Talanov and the Black Widow ever get together? You’ll just have to wait and see!”

 

#novecho_2014_medalsLOS ANGELES: The medal count continues to climb for Aleksandr Talanov, the acclaimed hero of bestselling novelist, JAMES HOUSTON TURNER, whose latest thriller, NOVEMBER ECHO, scored two gold medals in the 2014 International Book Awards in Los Angeles. News of the win reached Turner in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was attending Hanson’s first Hop Jam open air concert. These awards bring the medal count for Turner’s “Talanov thriller series” to an impressive six (five gold and one silver), with November Echo earning gold for Best Book: Thriller, and Best Cover Design: Fiction.

“I wish I could claim credit for that awesome cover,” Turner says. “It was the creative brilliance of Frauke Spanuth, of Croco Designs. Frauke is truly a graphic arts genius.”

Set against Biopreparat, the top-secret biological weapons program of the former Soviet Union, November Echo takes readers back to the moment Talanov became a spy. “We meet him as the cocky KGB colonel that he was,” Turner explains. “We enter his world of James Bond extravagance so typical of the eighties. We see what happens when the proverbial rug is yanked from beneath his feet, and in a single moment, everything changes. We witness his clever plan to catch a defector and how his own plan was used against him. It’s a look into the soul of a man whose world collapses, and the teenage girl who inspired his rise. It’s a story about loss, struggle and triumph, but triumph at a cost.”

To view the official November Echo 2014 Award Trailer, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rGqZBcGku8.

To read the entire official press release, click here: http://www.prlog.org/12327780.

Days after its release, James Houston Turner’s acclaimed novel, November Echo, soared to the #1 spot on Amazon’s espionage thriller list. Turner says he wrote the book in response to requests from readers for more background stories on his signature hero, the intrepid KGB colonel, Aleksandr Talanov, who became a deep-cover spy for America during the Cold War. Says Turner, “What started out as a 7500 word short story quickly grew into a full-fledged novel as characters came to life in ways I hadn’t expected. I love it when this happens but maintaining control is like trying to contain a wildfire. It’s a lot easier said than done.”

The book was featured on a number of international websites, including Turner’s Official Facebook page, which he says helped it achieve #1. “Ratings are a lot like riding the Kingda Ka rollercoaster,” he quips. “One minute you’re on top of the world, the next you’re plunging toward earth faster than a fighter pilot, then up you go again. The reality is, we’re building the Talanov brand and that takes time for people to read my books and tell others. But what a mountaintop experience this has been so far, and I owe it all to the people who got behind Talanov and me. No author makes it alone, and no author should forget to give credit where credit is due: to his or her readers.”

With the tagline, Every Spy Has A Beginning, Turner’s latest book chronicles the incident that turned Talanov into a spy. Set in 1985 against actual events surrounding Biopreparat, the Soviet Union’s top-secret biological weapons program, November Echo takes readers on an emotional ride to the Costa del Sol, Spain, when Talanov is given the assignment of tracking down a defecting scientist. But when the scientist and his family are murdered in front of his eyes, his impulsive decision to save the man’s teenage daughter pits him against the deadliest and most vicious adversary he will ever encounter: his own people, the KGB. Turner’s thrillers have already been compared by The Dallas Morning News to those of Robert Ludlum, with the title of his latest novel is taken from Talanov’s CIA codename, “November Echo.”

Writing in NewsBlaze, author Liz Terek calls November Echo the “Best book of 2013, bar none,” with The Mystery Tribune calling Talanov (from its review of Greco’s Game) “One of the most memorable characters we’ve come to know.”

What sets the book apart from other spy thrillers is fourteen year-old Noya Gorev, daughter of the defecting scientist Talanov was assigned to locate. “Noya definitely adds emotional depth to the book,” Turner explains from his home in Austin, Texas, where he and his wife, Wendy, recently moved after living nearly twenty years in Adelaide, Australia. “When we meet her, she’s as devoid of emotion as Talanov. But slowly the two characters begin to change one another.”

The addition of Noya, which has broadened the book’s mainstream adult appeal to include the young adult audience, was an indirect result of the “Team Talanov” writing project for teens, which Turner created to allow teenage students an opportunity to profile and name their own book characters. The project was run nationwide, with three winners having book characters named after their creations, with credit being given for their work. In addition, each of the three top winners will have their characters featured in at least one upcoming Talanov thriller. “Reading those profiles and interacting with so many talented teenage writers fed into the creation of Noya,” Turner says.

To read the entire official Regis Books press release, click HERE.

 

Greco's_Game_Campaign1Fictional tough guys abound, but few are based on actual people like Adelaide author JAMES HOUSTON TURNER’S signature hero, the “dark and sexy” Aleksandr Talanov, who returns in Greco’s Game, sequel to his “Ludlumesque” bestseller, Department Thirteen. And while the story is fiction, Turner framed it against the real world of black market human trafficking operating beneath the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, where he once worked as a journalist interviewing victims at an inner city rescue mission. “I’ve met people like Larisa,” he explains. “But it wasn’t until my research for Greco’s Game that I knew this was something I wanted our hero to tackle in the wake of his wife’s murder. So he becomes unwillingly swept up in a deadly plot, where innocent trafficking victims become pawns and Talanov finds himself pushed to his limits fighting for those victims while trying to solve his wife’s murder.”  To read more, click HERE.

14-1The Champagne was flowing freely on June 4th when James joined other distinguished authors at New York City’s legendary Plaza Hotel for the 2012 Indie Book Awards ceremony. Holding the distinction as the largest not-for-profit book awards program in the world, The Indie Book Awards boasts 240 awards for thousands of entries. Cash prizes total over $12,000, with judges that include “seasoned book editors (including many who have worked with major publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Penguin Books, Bantam Books, Dell Publishing and Avon Books) as well as designers, book buyers, agents, book reviewers, publishing executives, writing professors, best-selling authors, and other industry leaders,” reads the Indie Book Awards website.

“There was such an exciting buzz at this ceremony,” says James. “What an honor to have Department Thirteen recognized in such a glamorous way (action/adventure category). The Indie Book Awards carry a lot of weight, and I am happy to say I brought some of that weight back home in the form of an übercool gold medal!”

With Department Thirteen winning top awards and achieving bestseller status on his 2011 tour, Turner says he is sometimes asked what he thinks the book’s appeal with readers is. “It’s Talanov, pure and simple,” he says. “Reviewer Daniel Cann said it best when he wrote: ‘I find the idea of a hero in his fifties far more interesting and compelling than a superhuman, indestructible, twenty-something programmed agent. Clearly Talanov is not your typical fifty-something individual, as he has the conditioning of someone much younger, but it is his brainpower and experience as much as his physical ruggedness that makes him so effective.’ “

Turner’s writing colleague, national bestselling author Jordan Dane agrees, describing Talanov as a “smart, savvy, timeless hero.”

Click HERE to read the Kansas City Star press release, and HERE to read an original announcement.

13Coming on the heels of being voted the USA Book News “Best Thriller of 2011,” James Houston Turner’s bestselling thriller, Department Thirteen, has just scored another award with a prestigious GOLD MEDAL in the thriller/suspense category of the 2012 “IPPY” Independent Publisher Book Awards. Said Turner from his home in Adelaide, South Australia, “I thought I needed caffeine to start my day, but this was a power breakfast all on its own.”

UK film and book critic Daniel Cann, who has read both Department Thirteen and an advance review copy of its upcoming sequel, Greco’s Game, calls Turner’s signature hero, Talanov, “a modern day knight [and] champion,” and says Greco’s Game “. . . is a bold move and gamble by author Turner, taking his creation (Talanov) into radically different territory. Human trafficking is a subject rarely tackled, so Turner cannot be accused of playing it safe for his follow up to Department Thirteen.”

You can read the entire official press release by clicking HERE.

12Surprises come as no surprise for fans of bestselling American/Australian author, JAMES HOUSTON TURNER, who is proud to announce the finalists and winners in his “Team Talanov” creative writing project for teens. “The Team,” as Turner calls the three teenage characters he is writing into his latest Talanov thriller, will take his signature hero, former KGB informant Aleksandr Talanov, in yet another unexpected direction after the shattering turn his life takes in Greco’s Game. Turner credits LL Cool J with some of the inspiration for this project. “We had dinner together in Los Angeles at the end of my 2011 book tour and talked about our mutual love of kids and how to inspire them…”

To read the entire official press release, click HERE.

11During my studies at Baker University, I remember getting beat up by my karate master, Jim Harrison, a man Bruce Lee called one of the most dangerous men in America. We were taking our yellow belt test and Harrison invited us to throw everything we had learned at him. He toyed with us for a while before turning on us with a fury I had never seen, much less experienced. Pow! – down I would go. “Get up or I’ll kill you!” he would shout. Up I would scramble and – pow! – down I would go again. I don’t exactly remember how many times that scenario was repeated, but it was a lot. At the end, my eyes were almost swollen shut. My nose was bleeding. So was my mouth. Blood was smeared all over my face. As we staggered to our feet at the end of the test – which, incidentally, I passed – he said to me “Was that the worst beating you’ve ever received?” Barely able to stand, I said that it was. He nodded approvingly and said, “And you didn’t quit because I didn’t let you. Don’t ever forget that. No matter how tough life becomes for you, don’t ever quit.”

You can read more of Daniel’s intimate interview by clicking HERE.

“This tour was one huge mountaintop experience,” says James. “For one thing, 2011 was my landmark 20th anniversary of beating cancer! Few people thought I would live eighteen months, so reaching twenty years was fantastic! My celebration year started with Qantas Airways hosting me at the prestigious G’day USA black tie gala in Hollywood. From there it just got better.

Next up: The Identity Factor (Comfort Publishing) came out in eBook format in March to some pretty stunning reviews. This was followed by several exhilarating months of writing to finish a new thriller (due out later this year), which was followed in September by my USA book tour for the first in my Aleksandr Talanov thriller series, Department Thirteen, which is based on (1) the actual KGB assassination and sabotage unit of the same name; (2) my years as a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain; and (3) the actual KGB agent who leaked word out of Moscow that I was on a KGB watchlist.

The book had a spectacular launch at the University of Houston – Clear Lake (where I earned my Master’s Degree), preceded by a glamorous reception hosted by the Honorable Nana Booker AM, Australia’s Honorary Consul for the State of Texas, at her elegant Booker-Lowe Australian Aboriginal art gallery, in Houston. The book then hit bestseller status and went on to win the coveted USA Book News “Best Thriller of 2011″ award. Wow! Does it get any better than that? Funny you should ask, because — yes — it does.”

To read more, click HERE.

9USA Book News is the premier online magazine and review website for publishing houses like Simon & Schuster, Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Penguin, Harper Collins, McGraw-Hill, and hundreds of independent houses. News of the award reached Turner in Philadelphia, where he was promoting both Department Thirteen and his acclaimed international thriller, The Identity Factor. “If I could have done cartwheels without landing myself in the hospital, I would have,” he says. “The award is a sweet victory for the many years of writing it’s taken me to get to this point.” James has a series of novels planned for Department Thirteen’s hero, Aleksandr Talanov, who has been described as “Bond meets Bourne”. The next Talanov thriller, Greco’s Game, also to be published by Comfort Publishing, is slated for a September 2012 release. “It takes Talanov in a completely new direction,” he reveals. “My goal with each book is to tumble readers in surprising and fresh new directions that keep them guessing until the very end.”

To read more, click HERE.

8Explains James: “Called ‘Undercover,’ which I wrote and produced for my first QANTAS tour to the US back in 2000, it was way too long — seven minutes — but was my first effort to innovatively capture the attention of readers. For Department Thirteen and my 2011 promotional tour, I took it to the next level and organized a photo shoot with some good mates here in Adelaide. We took over a pub one Saturday morning and spent nearly three hours recreating a scene from the book, as well as shooting a promotional photo for tour sponsor, Chopin vodka. THANK YOU Jon Whelan (who has become the promotional ‘face’ of Talanov), Rachel O’Rourke, Connor O’Rourke, ACE photographers ‘Flash!’ (who took the accompanying Talanov action photo) and ‘Bong,’ as well as ‘The Highway’. I couldn’t have done this without you.”

You can watch the two-minute Department Thirteen book trailer by clicking HERE.

7James spoke candidly with publisher Marisa Darnel about his twenty years as a struggling writer, his triumphant battle against cancer, his time spent as a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain and how these varied experiences helped influence his writing because of the impact they had on him personally. “We seldom learn life’s lessons when the going is easy,” he says. “It’s in struggle and hardship that we’re especially teachable.”

One experience in particular was James being turned down for a customer service job in Adelaide because he was too ugly, referring to the facial scars from his cancer operation. “At the time it was a kick in the guts, because my writing was going nowhere and we needed money, and I was thinking of quitting. But that rejection was actually a blessing in disguise, because it motivated me to keep writing. So I decided to turn that experience into a platform and speak in schools about not letting the hard knocks of life defeat you. Kids today get hit with all kinds of similar judgments: you’re too fat, too poor, too dumb, too…whatever. If we believe that stuff, we’ll be defeated in life much more easily. Don’t fall into that trap!”

To read the emotionally-moving interview, click HERE.

6Esteemed internationally as a man of peace, Jerusalem’s Rabbi David Rosen praised James for the way he balanced religious and political sensitivities with unrelenting suspense in his international thriller, The Identity Factor (Comfort Publishing, 2011). “I knew I was walking a tightrope when I wrote The Identity Factor,” says Turner of his novel, which not only addresses current Arab/Israeli tensions in the Middle East, but challenges the traditional view about the origin of Genesis.

“My novel [also] postulates how a terrorist like bin Laden could escape the clutches of the US military time and again. It raises the bar of possibilities from fiction to fact in light of repeated claims that he actually had help in Washington.” To read more, click HERE.

5“I love a great villain,” says famous TV bad guy, Abu Fayed, from Season 6 of the hit television series, 24. “Great villains demand great heroes and The Identity Factor has both.” Abu Fayed was played by the accomplished actor, Adoni Maropis, who was flawless in his role as the villain everyone loved to hate. Entertainment Weekly had this to say: “It takes a hell of a guy to rattle our unflappable hero [Jack Bauer]. Enter Abu Fayed, who proves his prowess by torturing Bauer while coordinating multiple terrorist plots.” To read more, click HERE.

4“It’s especially rewarding,” he says, “because doctors didn’t think I’d live 18 months. The first sound I remember was the metronome of the heart monitor when I came out from the anesthetic of my eleven-hour operation. The first sight I saw was my wife, Wendy. She was standing beside me, holding my hand. We still hold hands.” A collection of G’day USA photos is available at: http://jameshoustonturner.blogspot.com/2011/01/cool-dude-writer-goes-to-gday-usa.html.

3“The best writing comes from massive rewriting,” says James about journalist Bob Larson, with whom he worked as a journalist at the famed Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. “And that is exactly how the script version of The Identity Factor has played out. There was lots of chopping and condensing, and it was hard to eliminate favorite scenes and characters, but the results have been genuinely spectacular.

“I also had to get to know my characters better than I did in the book. That’s because nuance in film is visual, and I needed to communicate that nuance into the script so that a director can then make those characters come alive on the screen. Film producer Kristin Overn (who directs the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards), collaborated with me on the script and pushed my abilities to new heights. I won’t lie to you (even though I write fiction, which of course is telling lies for a living) — the adaptation process was a struggle.

“Kristin likens it to being in quicksand. You fight to get through this sticky, suffocating quagmire, and at times you feel like it will engulf you. Long hours tick by and sometime turn into days of stalemate. But finally you fit the pieces of the puzzle together and push your way through to the other side. Then you do it all over again. In truth, the struggle enabled me to grow as a writer. So I learned to love the quicksand. It definitely pushed my envelope.

“And what a trip it was! At times I soared, at times I cursed. My fellow writers will know what I’m talking about. What I had to learn was not to be too ‘precious’ with what I’d written … not to ‘own’ it so much that I failed to see ways to improve it … to do it better, especially for the sake of the film. It wasn’t easy. But it was certainly worth it. And exhilarating.”

2Speaking about his life as a smuggler and courier behind the old Iron Curtain and how these experiences inspired him to write espionage thrillers, James addressed an exclusive breakfast crowd at the annual NAFSA convention in Washington, D.C. “As an American living in Adelaide, James was a natural,” says Denise von Wald, Chief Executive of Study Adelaide. “We did an Oprah Winfrey style of interview, as well as furnished guests with complimentary copies of James’s thriller, The Identity Factor.”

According to the NAFSA website, the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors was founded in 1948 to promote the professional development of American college and university officials responsible for assisting and advising the 25,000 foreign students who had come to study in the United States after World War II. Over the years, NAFSA has grown into an international organization of educational advisors. “We were in Washington to showcase Adelaide as an educational destination,” says Ms von Wald, “and with James being a dual American-Australian citizen who has traveled and researched his novels both here and abroad, we wanted him to speak about some of his experiences, as well as share why he chooses to call Adelaide home.”

This was followed over the course of two afternoons with sellout wine tasting events featuring Australia’s award-winning Jacob’s Creek wine. The previous year’s guest speaker was astronaut Andy Thomas.

1James has been featured several times in Rainbow Magazine, including the feature, “Books by Brothers,” and the “Global Delts” issue, where he was quoted on the cover as saying, “Like the view of Earth from space, the view of America from afar is spectacular.”

Other featured Delts included bestselling authors Richard North Patterson and Forrest Gump’s Winston Groom, along with actors Drew Carey, Matthew McConaughey, Will Ferrell, David Schwimmer, James Marsden, Academy Award winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (“Traffic”), and football legends John Elway and Gene Washington.