The Miami Book Fair International always has a fascinating array of authors and illustrators scheduled in any given year. This year’s fair, Nov. 13-20, has something for everyone, including a Children’s Alley. Local authors include former Sen. Bob Graham, who has crossed to the fiction side with a well-researched, complex spy thriller, Keys to the Kingdom.
“This is my fourth book and my first novel,” he said. “It was in some ways more difficult than non-fiction. With non-fiction you tend to be writing events that have already occurred.”
Although the book was harder to write, Graham admits it was more fun.
“Since you are not constrained to document reality, you can create the personalities of your character,” he said. “And try to work through both a character development and a plot evolution that will be entertaining and informative.”
The book took five years to complete. “The book is 40 percent true with names of living people changed,” he said. “Another 40 percent is what I refer to informed speculation with 20 percent a combination.”
In Keys to the Kingdom, a retired senator has come back to Florida with nagging concerns about 9/11 and national security. After writing an op-ed piece for the New York Times, he receives threatening phone calls and calls in Tony Ramos for help. Initially Tony doesn’t want to get involved but eventually is pulled into the mystery.
Graham said some people have been critical because the book does not subscribe to 9/11 conspiracy theories. But Graham said he does not believe in those conspiracy theories although he agrees there is still much to learn that horrific event.
“There’s lots we don’t know. We don’t know the full range of i n v o l v e m e n t about the Saudis,” he said. “We’re learning some about the Saudis in Sarasota. What we don’t know whether the Saudis were providing assistance to the other 15 hijackers. Most of the hijackers spent most of their time in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Bach County.”
Graham isn’t sure about writing a sequel, but said the last section of the book gives hints as to what a sequel might be about.
“My publisher has asked me to consider that,” Graham said. “I said I want to make sure someone wants to read the first book before I consider writing a second one.”
Graham is scheduled to speak at the book fair on Saturday, Nov. 19. Times and location will be announced Nov. 1.
Chicago area author Amy Krouse Rosenthal speaks on Nov. 20. Rosenthal has written four adult books and 16-18 picture books. Her first book, Little Pea, started as a bedtime story for her daughter.
“I just thought it would be funny about a pea that hates candy,” she said.
At the time, she didn’t realize it was a book about the attraction of healthy eating.
“It’s obvious to me now but it didn’t set out to write a book about nutrition.”
Rosenthal has three books coming out after the New Year — Plant a Kiss illustrated by Peter Reynolds, Wumber and the follow up to Spoon, Chopsticks.
She also is known for her films. Her latest film is debuting on YouTube on 11/11/11.
“Each year I’ve done something on those triplet dates,” she said. “It started as a public gathering at Millennium Park in Chicago. I thought maybe 30 people would show up and hundreds showed up. It’s like an interactive love letter to the universe.”