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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Author Showcase: Carlton Winnfield

    The Grid by Carlton Winnfield is an extraordinary tale of international intrigue and subversion, narrated by an unnamed agent of The Grid. With highly advanced nanotechnology, a super computer to guide him, and a multitude of satellites to be his eye in the sky at all times, we follow him on a mission to uncover, and then stop, the plans of Khan, a radical Jihadist leader from Pakistan. As he uncovers the plans, piece by piece, a horrific picture unfolds of an alliance with Gomez Soares, a Mexican drug cartel leader, and the smuggling of an atomic bomb to Mexico City. Soares and Khan are both certain that detonating this bomb will effectively upset the balance of power in the countries they both wish to take over. But The Grid has other plans.
   The Grid is exciting and riveting. The narrator is never named so I felt as if I were following a shadowy figure through the whole story. Rather appropriate considering that's exactly how he was supposed to be. He leads you on an international romp through three continents to complete his mission, and author Carlton Winnfield did a superb job bringing every location to life in vivid detail. His character building is equally impressive. From the beautiful Controller of The Grid to the other exotic beauties and evil men we encounter, they are perfectly visualized through his writing. I highly recommend this book for better-than-Bond thrills and intrigue. - Reviewed by Chameleon (B.G.) for Reader's Favorite.
    I only gave this book 5 Stars because the rating system didn't go up to 10. This really ranks in the top 5 of the best books I've ever read. If you enjoy international thrills, suspense, and intrigue, this book will please you immensely!
Q. Mr. Winnfield, I truly enjoyed your novel, The Grid. It's common for authors to be inspired by something to write certain stories. What was your inspiration for this one?

A. Chameleon, first, I would like to thank you for your interest in The Grid. It’s very kind of you to feature it here. While I understand your curiosity in this unique organization, I will have to be careful – as I’m sure you will understand - not to give too much away. The Grid exists in the deep shadows and must remain there.
    Inspiration. What an excellent word. Yes, I was inspired to create The Grid. All through my life, I have been drawn to the ideas of the ‘good fight’, of ‘good against bad’, and the concept of the ‘Paladin’ – a solitary champion of a cause sometimes confronting great odds. I’ve always thought that one person can make a difference. As a boy, I admired Zorro, then later John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee and Alexander Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo (what gripping stories). Still later, I came across whom I consider the ultimate Paladin – Quiller, the creation of Elleston Trevor writing as Adam Hall. For me, Quiller – the British government agent who never carries a gun - embodied the starkly contrasting capacities of a strong intellect, empathy, and brute force, all employed to confront serious wrongdoers.
    Still later, I stumbled onto the wonderful science fiction novels of the Scottish writer, Iain Banks, that tell us about the pan-human space-faring civilization called the Culture, its military arm - aptly named Special Circumstances - and the sentient machine Minds that manage the Culture’s worlds and command its starships. Sadly, both Mr. Trevor and Mr. Banks have passed on. I miss their astonishing creativity and sober thinking. Selfishly, I thought to continue – in some miniscule way – their lines of thought, as I understood them, to merge them together somehow, if only for my own enjoyment. What terrific inspiration they all are.

     All terrific authors and works. My favorites are Zorro and The Count of Monte Cristo, as well.

Q. My initial impression as I started this novel was a Bondish feel, but just 2 pages in told me this was way beyond Bond. This shadowed operative is far deadlier than Bond; and yet, while he unerringly remains focused on the mission, he does have weaknesses that will appeal to the ladies in the audience. Is there anything at all you can tell us about this character?

A. The Operator is one of a small number of superbly skilled human agents (male and female) of The Grid. He is nameless and, at this point, stateless. He could be from any country, any background. We’ll let the reader fill in those details for us. He is very intelligent, speaks several languages, a bit over 6 feet tall, broad at the shoulder, slim at the hip, and as agile, fast, and ferocious as an alley cat. He has endured and survived a multi-year training program - intellectual, technological and physical - developed by the best expertise that the immense wealth of The Grid’s Founders can buy. We don’t yet know how he was found and selected as a candidate for The Grid’s immensely difficult training program. We do know that he was probably selected because of his driving need to be challenged and tested; because of the absence of the concept ‘quit’ in his mental makeup; and his underlying sentiment for the underdog, the downtrodden.
     A damsel in distress is a magnet to him. As you might imagine, he has a discriminating eye for beautiful, exotic women. As for his allure to them, you will have to decide. But, the Operator realizes that, in his line of work, these sentiments are weaknesses. He is attentive to them, though not always successfully. He admires and agrees with The Grid’s principal goal of protecting and advancing the ‘common good’. Still, he is always wary of it. He knows about the frailties of human nature and he does not fully trust the Machines. He understands that, after their many years together, The Grid knows him well and will not hesitate to use his vulnerabilities against him to achieve its ends. The Operator is the sharp end of the stick that The Grid unleashes when it expects to encounter the darker forces in the world. Yes, he is far deadlier than Bond.

     He was the perfect character, for me. Exactly what I would look for in a 'hero'.

Q. The technology of today is pretty impressive, but I would imagine the technology we, the general public, don't even know about would be a bit frightening- rather like what you describe in The Grid. Do you think this technology actually exists?

A. When I studied for my undergraduate degree, I made a choice between two fields of study: Government and Physics. I chose Government because of the charismatic professor that led the Government Department and his motivating lectures. However, over the years, I have never lost my interest in physics and I am an avid reader of books for the layperson on theoretical physics and quantum mechanics. So, while I am no expert in these fields, I have some relevant knowledge. Based on my readings, the technologies attributed to The Grid do not now exist. They are what I refer to as ‘futuristic’ – some of them, perhaps, ‘near-future’ – technologies.
     In today’s real world, there are, I believe, energy storage problems, carbon nano-tube development issues, and significant quantum computing matters still to be resolved before The Grid’s technological capabilities can come on line. Yet, based on my readings, it may be that a few of the technologies attributed to The Grid are presently under development, if only experimentally. Some may never be realized. But the point is: ‘what if?’ What if you had such astounding technological capabilities as The Grid’s and the power that they would give to you; technologies you believe too powerful and pervasive to be entrusted to any contemporary government. Would you destroy them for fear of their misuse, or would you try to use them for the greater good? The Grid’s Founders made their decision years ago. What decision would you have made?

     A good question, but being of Paladin mentality, I'd choose to keep it and use it for the greater good, however, I think it will be fascinating to see if The Grid ultimately succumbs to the seduction of ultimate power. I think that will definitely add heightened suspense to future books with The Grid.

Q. Your scenes are perfectly descriptive, what research did you have to do to make the killing scenes in The Grid realistic?

A. Most of it I made up. Having said that, I studied Judo when I was young and I can still recall some of that knowledge, and from my military service I am a bit familiar with weapons and explosives. So, there is some foundation in reality.

Q. To me, everything in The Grid rang true, what other research did you have to do to bring reality to it all? Or... perhaps you have a bit of first hand knowledge?

A. That’s very good to hear. When I wrote The Grid, one of my fundamental goals was that it must seem to be nearly believable. I am a retired U.S. Army officer with over 30 years of service. While I have never been a member of the Special Operations forces, I have combat arms experience, staff experience, and international politico-military experience as a military attaché serving abroad in U.S. Embassies. I have been abroad many years and have lived and worked in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Afghanistan. I am well traveled and have some knowledge of other cultures. I have experience with military units of various sizes and functions and can relate that to The Grid, which, basically, is a paramilitary organization with similar logistics, communications, personnel, information, supervision and leadership requirements.
     When writing The Grid, I tried to use my varied experiences to help me, to the limited extent they could, answer the question: ‘what do you think would really happen’. With regard to the locations in which the story takes place - spread across three continents - I relied on my first-hand knowledge. I have been to most of those locations; in some cases to the precise spot. In this way, I sought to share with the reader the sense of those places (the heat, the humidity, the darkness, the light, the scent of the flowers, the stone floors, the garden pools, the dirt track, etc). When I write, it is like a storyboard for a movie: I see each scene in my mind – vividly. Having been to most of the locations helps me in that visualization. 

Q. Your travels have served you well, I really did get a concise picture from your descriptions. I'd love to read more adventures with this character, do you plan on doing another book with this operative? And if not, what is next on the horizon for you?

A. If you watch daily events in the world closely, you cannot help but see that there are many threats to our welfare – to the ‘common good.’ They come from many different directions. Some are obvious; others are obscure. But, they are there. Individuals or groups of them cause these threats. They don’t happen by themselves. There is a second Grid novel in the making and it will tell us of recent events in which The Grid acted against such a group.
    What I can share with you, at this point, is that The Grid initially sought to help a damsel in distress and the Operator is again at the heart of the action, this time as a personal favor to Grid Actual, the brilliant and beautiful mastermind of The Grid. But some things are not as they appear. Remember this. Like the first book, the story will be told from the point of view of the Operator, who, in recounting his deeds, will take the reader with him into the shadows.

Q. Well, I, for one, will be happy to follow him into the shadows *smile*. It has been an extreme pleasure speaking with you, Mr. Winnfield, is there anything you'd like to leave our readers with?

A. The Grid’s goal is to protect and advance the ‘common good’, the welfare of us all. It is a noble undertaking. There are many injustices in the world that draw the attention of The Grid. There are many of its stories to come. The Operator and the nearly artificially intelligent Machine minds of The Grid have many tasks approaching; some of them will question the boundaries between right and wrong, good and bad; all of them will question The Grid’s very right to exist.

    Thank you, Chameleon, for this opportunity to talk with you and to share The Grid with your readers. I thank you for your courtesy. I applaud your drive to pursue your aspiration to advance the welfare of authors everywhere. One person can make a difference.

    One person certainly can, and I plan on doing just that. The pleasure has truly been all mine, Mr. Winnfield, I'm eagerly looking forward to the next book. I think any movie studio with any sense at all would grab this book up and run with it. I just may have to wave it under their noses to get their attention. I can be quite persuasive, and I won't even have to hurt anybody. Let's keep in touch, and please let me know as soon as you complete the next book *smile* .
    May I take this opportunity to thank you for your service, Mr. Winnfield. Our service men and women are the real heroes of this country. A pity that their hands are often tied, and their greatness and sacrifices are too often overlooked.
The Grid: An International Thriller Click Here to Purchase From Amazon
Chameleon Author

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