Dec 26th 2014

Target Churchill: How Persistence Gave Birth to a Bestselling Thriller

by Warren Adler

Warren Adler is an American author who has written forty books, 12 of which have been filmed. He is best known for The War of the Roses, the fictionalization of a macabre divorce. This dark comedy was soon turned into a feature film box office hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito. Adler’s works have been translated into 25 languages. Waren Adler, a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School and New York University, majored in English literature. He then went on to study creative writing.  After graduation, Adler worked at the New York Daily News, before becoming editor of the Queens Post.During the Korean War, Adler was recruited by Armed Forces Press Service to serve in the Pentagon. Warren Adler has owned four radio stations and a TV station, while running his own advertising and public relations agency in Washington, D.C. Adler is one of the founders of the Washington Dossier magazine. He is also the founder of the Jackson Hole Writer’s Conference, WY, and has been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jackson Hole Public Library. Adler’s themes deal primarily with intimate human relationships—the mysterious nature of love and attraction, the fragile relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, the corrupting power of money, the aging process, and how families cling together when challenged by the outside world.

I am a member of the Lotos Club in Manhattan, a literary club celebrated for having Mark Twain as its most famous member. Apparently, he had spent many happy hours with fellow members there in his declining years. A few years ago at Lotos event, we were regaled by James Humes, a distinguished professor, historian, Pulitzer Prize nominated author, and a Winston Churchill specialist. With a startling physical resemblance to Winston Churchill, Humes has traveled the world impersonating the great British wartime leader.

Humes knew that I was a novelist, and he was seated next to me at the event. After his performance, he informed me that he had written a novel. Although Humes had previously published numerous non-fiction books, he asked if I would collaborate with him on a novel, as he had never attempted a work of fiction before. I politely declined. I do not collaborate on my novels. I do my own research, and every novel for me is a solo performance. It has been my way of life for more than half a century. The process has sustained me through forty novels, short stories, plays, and essays.

I am truly a fan of Winston Churchill. I have indelible memories of his speeches, particularly the “Blood, Toil, Sweat and Tears” speech that I heard sitting in my grandparents’ back porch in 1940 after the British retreat on the mainland of Europe. I also remember listening to the Iron Curtain Speech he made in Missouri in 1946. These speeches were an inspiration and moved me immensely. I will never forget them. Winston Churchill is a hero of mine. And just like Churchill, Humes too never surrendered. He sent me his manuscript and called me relentlessly.

After putting his manuscript aside for months, I finally decided to be fair to his noble efforts and read it. It was what I had expected, a non-fiction writer’s honest and most excellent effort written without the skill of a fiction writer. The story was a fictional account of an imagined assassination attempt on Churchill’s life as he made his 1946 Iron Curtain speech in Westminster College in Fulton Missouri.

I became hooked by Humes’ idea and felt the stirrings of inspiration, which could fashion an exciting thriller. His research was impeccable, and I saw it as the foundation of a terrific story. After all, it was about an era that I had lived through and about a man who I revere. Humes’ manuscript blasted open the door of my imagination, and I looked forward to fleshing out the story with various plot points.

I agreed to redo the novel based on Humes’ brilliant core idea. My only proviso, as I insist for all of my novels, was that my work was to not be edited and accepted as is. We would share all publishing proceeds and the author byline. Thankfully he agreed. Indeed, I have enormous respect for James Humes’ insight and judgment. These qualities have been carefully preserved in our collaboration.

I spent months reading memoirs, accounts of the events leading up to the Iron Curtain speech; composing his speech in the British embassy in Washington; facts about Soviet spies who had penetrated the embassy during the war; the relationship between Churchill and Walter H. Thompson, and his lone bodyguard; details of the Soviet advance into Berlin; events surrounding Truman’s invitation to Churchill to speak at Westminster College in Missouri; the marvelous, true events about the famous poker game on the Presidential train en route to Missouri; and the Churchill family history at the time. It was all grist for the novelist’s mill. My research led to new characters and sub-plots. It was all so rich and intriguing that I could have spent a lifetime on the topic.

As a pioneer in digital publishing, I released Target Churchill through my own publishing company, Stonehouse Productions, which has so far has published thirteen of my novels and more to come. Target Churchill hit the Kindle bestseller list for Historical Fiction upon its release and this espionage thriller is now one of a slate of my novels in development as movies with Grey Eagle Films and The Solution Entertainment Group.Both James C. Humes and I occasionally lecture on Target Churchill, on how the novel was conceived and the historical background that gave birth to the idea.

Every novelist is asked where they get their ideas. I have spent many years reflecting on that mystery with most of my work. Target Churchill is an exception. It came via a person, a persistent messenger who, like Winston Churchill, never surrendered.

In celebration of novel’s anniversary, Stonehouse Press is offering a limited time promotion on Target Churchill, at $2.99 exclusively for Kindle readers.



More about Warren Adler:

Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. Adler's international hit stage adaptation of the novel will premiere on Broadway in 2015-2016. Adler has also optioned and sold film rights for a number of his works including Random Hearts(starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas) and The Sunset Gang (produced by Linda Lavin for PBS' American Playhouse series starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts). In recent development are the Broadway Production of The War of the Roses, to be produced by Jay and Cindy Gutterman, The War of the Roses - The Children (Grey Eagle Films and Permut Presentations), a feature film adaptation of the sequel to Adler's iconic divorce story, Target Churchill (Grey Eagle Films and Solution Entertainment), Residue (Grey Eagle Films), Mourning Glory, to be adapted byKaren Leigh Hopkins, and Capitol Crimes (Grey Eagle Films and Sennet Entertainment), a television series based on his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series. Warren Adler's newest thriller, Treadmill, is officially available.

For Warren Adler's web site, please click here.
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For Twitter : @WarrenAdler

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Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jun 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "Numerous studies have shown that children who grow up in more deprived neighbourhoods tend to have worse physical health as adults compared to those raised in more affluent areas. This is the case even when researchers take into account family income and education, and whether or not parents have major illnesses. In order to address this health disparity, researchers need to understand how those living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods end up with worse health outcomes. Our team’s latest study has highlighted one potential way your childhood neighbourhood may influence your health for years to come. It might do so through changing how the activity of your genes is regulated."
Jun 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "Ruth Poniarski is a painter and the author of Journey of the Self: Memoir of an Artist (Warren Publishing, 2020), in which she tells the story of her decade long struggle with mental illness, a “spiraling malady” which led her into a “pattern of psychosis”. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Poniarski about her life and work, and how she eventually overcame her demons."
Jun 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "I know I’m good in a couple of things, really good in a few things, and that’s enough. My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me, it’s no problem. I need experts around me. It’s really very important that you are empathetic, that you try to understand the people around you, and that you give real support to the people around you."
Jun 27th 2020
An essay about the "the enormously influential 1940 'Head of Christ' painting by evangelical Warner E. Sallman" pictured below.
Jun 17th 2020
EXTRACT: "The diverse, non-human life forms that live in our guts – known as our microbiome – are crucial to our health. A disrupted balance of these contribute to a range of disorders and diseases, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease. It could even affect our mental health..... It’s well known that the microbes living in our guts are altered through diet. For example, including dietary fibre and dairy products in our diets encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. But mounting evidence suggests that exercise can also modify the types of bacteria that reside within our guts."
Jun 13th 2020
EXTRACT: "Bonhoeffer’s life holds an important lesson for us today, regardless of our religious affiliation or lack thereof. And simply put it is this: you are called upon; you are called on behalf of your neighbor. When you are called to be responsible that is not an obligation which you can decline, discharge or acquit yourself of – it is an infinite responsibility, a “forever commitment” as Charles Blow recently put it. And we all must be prepared to make any sacrifice necessary when we are called."
Jun 11th 2020
EXTRACT: "People differ substantially in how much they’re affected by experiences in their lives. Some people seem to be more affected by daily stress, or the loss of someone close to them. On the other hand, some people seem to get through the same experiences relatively unscathed. Similarly, some people benefit strongly from counselling, or having a support system of close family and friends. Others seem better able to manage on their own. But understanding why some people are more sensitive than others isn’t just a question of how they were raised, and the experiences they’ve been through. In fact, previous research has found that some people in general seem more sensitive to what they experience – and some are generally less sensitive."
Jun 7th 2020
EXTRACT: " The root causes of anthropogenic climate change – which has led to the endangering of countless species across the globe – cannot be adequately grasped in isolation from the technological application of modern science. While Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was certainly justified in calling upon American legislators to “unite behind the science,” neither can we overlook the culpability of science in bringing about the environmental crisis. "
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "The QAnon movement began in 2017 after someone known only as Q posted a series of conspiracy theories about Trump on the internet forum 4chan. QAnon followers believe global elites are seeking to bring down Trump, whom they see as the world’s only hope to defeat the “deep state.” OKM is part of a network of independent congregations (or ekklesia) called Home Congregations Worldwide (HCW). The organization’s spiritual adviser is Mark Taylor, a self-proclaimed “Trump Prophet” and QAnon influencer with a large social media following on Twitter and YouTube."
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "The aim of my research for the Understanding Unbelief programme was to investigate the worldviews of non-believers, since little is known about the diversity of these non-religious beliefs, and what psychological functions they serve. I wanted to explore the idea that while non-believers may not hold religious beliefs, they still hold distinct ontological, epistemological and ethical beliefs about reality, and the idea that these secular beliefs and worldviews provide the non-religious with equivalent sources of meaning, or similar coping mechanisms, as the supernatural beliefs of religious individuals."
May 22nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Psalm 91, for example, reassures believers that God will protect them from “the pestilence that walketh in darkness… A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee”.............Luther was a devout believer but insisted that religious faith had to be joined with practical, physical defences against sickness. It was a good Christian’s duty to work to keep themselves and others safe, rather than relying solely on the protection of God. "
May 22nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Evidence from this study shows clearly that eating foods rich in flavonoids over your lifetime is significantly linked to reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk. However, their consumption will be even more beneficial alongside other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, managing a healthy weight and exercising."
May 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "It’s possible that the answers to questions like, “how do I live a virtuous life?” or “how do we build a good society?” are not the same as they were a few weeks ago."
May 2nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Strangely, those with strong beliefs tend to be admired. The human mind hates uncertainty, so it is comforting to be told what to think, and to form settled opinions. But it is not rational. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Apr 21st 2020
Extract: "Humans, Boccaccio seems to be saying, can think of themselves as upstanding and moral – but unawares, they may show indifference to others. We see this in the 10 storytellers themselves: They make a pact to live virtuously in their well-appointed retreats. Yet while they pamper themselves, they indulge in some stories that illustrate brutality, betrayal and exploitation. Boccaccio wanted to challenge his readers, and make them think about their responsibilities to others. “The Decameron” raises the questions: How do the rich relate to the poor during times of widespread suffering? What is the value of a life? In our own pandemic, with millions unemployed due to a virus that has killed thousands, these issues are strikingly relevant.
Apr 20th 2020
Extract: "If we do not seize this crisis as a moment for transformation, then we will have lost the war. If doing so requires reviving notions of collective guilt and responsibility – including the admittedly uncomfortable view that every one of us is infinitely responsible, then so be it; as long we do not morally cop out by blaming some group as the true bearers of sin, guilt, and God’s heavy judgment. A pandemic clarifies the nature of action: that with our every act we answer to each other. In that light, we have a duty to seize this public crisis as an opportunity to reframe our mutual responsibility to one another and the world."
Apr 16th 2020
EXTRACT: "Death is the common experience which can make all members of the human race feel their common bonds and their common humanity."
Apr 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "A crisis such as this one demands that we exercise what the philosopher Immanuel Kant called the ‘public use of reason’ – as opposed to merely the ‘private use of reason’ where, briefly put, the expert, the specialist is tasked with resolving a defined problem. The private use of reason is sufficient when we are dealing with a problem that can be solved by simply applying the appropriate expertise...............The public use of reason asks: how we are defining the problem? Is our definition – our conceptualization of the problem – perhaps part of the problem itself? Is this pandemic solely a problem of public health, or is it also a problem of extreme economic inequality? ..............Since this crisis began, the greatest failure of the administration is not the denial, the lies, the lack of preparedness, but the inability to rally and unify the nation against this common threat, the lack of genuine leadership – Trump’s utter inability to bring the nation together."
Apr 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "Rarely has an architectural experiment aroused such extremes of ire and admiration. One side is convinced the house is a masterpiece. The other expresses brutal condemnation of the entire project (leaky roof, danger of flooding, too-hot, too-cold interiors depending on the American Midwest weather).........Farnsworth encapsulated her personal ambiguity in her comment to a Newsweek interviewer: “This handsome pavilion I own is almost totally unworkable.” She told one journalist, “ … all I got was this glib, false sophistication. The conception of a house as a glass cage suspended in air is ridiculous.”
Apr 1st 2020
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Effects of Good Government fresco, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.