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.
For Facebook: www.facebook.com/warrenadler
For Twitter : @WarrenAdler

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More Essays

Jan 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: " For the first time in over two decades a painting by Marc Chagall will be going up for auction in Israel. Tiroche Auction House will be hosting the Israeli & International Art auction on January 25th – featuring paintings by a number of Israeli masters, including Reuben Rubin, and Yosl Bergner. The highlight of the evening however is Chagall’s Jacob’s Ladder (1970-1974), a theme to which the artist would return at least a dozen times in paintings and drawings."
Jan 16th 2020
EXTRACT: "Between 1940 and 1942 Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish artist, created a sequence of 784 paintings while hiding from the Nazi authorities. She gave the sequence a single title: Leben? oder Theater? (Life? or Theatre?). Viewed in the 21st century, Salomon’s artwork could be considered a precursor to the contemporary graphic novel, creating a complex web of narratives through words and images."
Jan 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "It’s simply not possible to do justice to the value of Iran’s cultural heritage – it’s a rich and noble history that has had a fundamental impact on the world through art, architecture, poetry, in science and technology, medicine, philosophy and engineering. The Iranian people are intensely aware – and rightly proud of – their Persian heritage. The archaeological legacy left by the civilisations of ancient and medieval Iran extend from the Mediterranean Sea to India and ranges across four millennia from the Bronze age (3rd millennium BC) to the glorious age of classical Islam and the magnificent medieval cities of Isfahan and Shiraz that thrived in the 9th-12th centuries AD, and beyond."
Jan 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "Lautrec had a genius for representing people. He would rarely paint any other subject. When he looked at a person who caught his interest, not only their appearance, but seemingly also their personality would magically flow from his hand, fixing a moment of their life, and his, on a piece of cardboard or canvas."
Jan 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "In 2010, Great Britain generated 75% of its electricity from coal and natural gas. But by the end of the decade*, these fossil fuels accounted for just 40%, with coal generation collapsing from the decade’s peak of 41% in 2012 to under 2% in 2019. The near disappearance of coal power – the second most prevalent source in 2010 – underpinned a remarkable transformation of Britain’s electricity generation over the last decade, meaning Britain now has the cleanest electrical supply it has ever had. Second place now belongs to wind power, which supplied almost 21% of the country’s electrical demand in 2019, up from 3% in 2010. As at the start of the decade, natural gas provided the largest share of Britain’s electricity in 2019 at 38%, compared with 47% in 2010."
Jan 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "Owing to these positive developments, many were lulled into thinking that modern advanced economies can run on autopilot. And yet economists knew that market capitalism does not automatically self-correct for adverse distributional trends (both secular and transitional), especially extreme ones. Public policies and government services and investments have a critical role to play. But in many places, these have been either non-existent or insufficient. The result has been a durable pattern of unequal opportunity that is contributing to the polarization of many societies. This deepening divide has a negative spillover effect on politics, governance, and policymaking, and now appears to be hampering our ability to address major issues, including the sustainability challenge."
Jan 2nd 2020
In September 2018, Ian Buruma was forced out as editor of The New York Review of Books, following an outcry over the magazine’s publication of a controversial essay about #MeToo. A year later, in a conversation with Svenska Dagbladet US correspondent Malin Ekman, he reflects on lost assignments, literature, cancel culture, threats to freedom of speech, and the state of liberal democracy.
Dec 31st 2019
EXTRACT: "I have long been troubled by the way so many believing Christians in the West have either been ignorant of or turned their backs on the plight of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim. Right​-wing Evangelicals, under the sway of heretical theology, are so blinded by their obsession with Israel that they can't see Israel's victims. Other Western Christians simply just don't know or about the people of Palestine. I find this state of affairs to always distressing, but especially so at Christmas time, since the Christmas story we celebrate not only took place in that land, it continues to define the lives of the Palestinians who live in places like Bethlehem and Nazareth. "
Dec 19th 2019
EXTRACT: "Although there have long been farmers and merchants who specialised in growing and selling seeds, it wasn’t until the 20th century that people started talking about seed production as an industrial process. Thanks to changes in farming, science and government regulations, most of the “elite” seed that is bought and sold around the world today is mass produced and mass marketed — by just four transnational corporations."
Dec 14th 2019
EXTRACT: "Dehydration is associated with a higher risk of ill health in older people, from having an infection, a fall or being admitted to hospital. But an appetite for food and drink can diminish as people age, so older people should drink regularly, even when they’re not thirsty. Older women who don’t have to restrict their fluid intake for medical reasons, such as heart or kidney problems, are advised to drink eight glasses a day. For older men, it’s ten glasses."
Dec 12th 2019
EXTRACT: "A decade ago, I wrote The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. This month, a fully revised Tenth Anniversary edition was published, and is available, free, as an eBook and audiobook. The chapters of the audiobook are read by celebrities, including Paul Simon, Kristen Bell, Stephen Fry, Natalia Vodianova, Shabana Azmi, and Nicholas D’Agosto. Revising the book has led me to reflect on the impact it has had, while the research involved in updating it has made me focus on what has changed over the past ten years"
Nov 27th 2019
EXTRACT: "Jay Willis at GQ reports that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said on Fox and Friends that Trump is God’s Chosen One. He said he told Trump, “If you’re a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet and our government.” Perry also said that he had written a memo for Trump about how God uses imperfect people, comparing Trump to biblical figures such as Solomon, Saul and David, who were also flawed. This evangelical discourse that a providential God controls political power goes back to old West Semitic Religion"
Nov 7th 2019
Extract: "The PSA test is done using a small amount of blood to detect raised levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Yet, despite its relatively low cost and ease of administering, it is not offered for routine screening in many countries, including the UK. This is because a significant proportion of those testing positive have no disease (a false-positive result), slow-growing cancer that doesn’t need treatment, or positive results caused by a relatively benign condition, such as a urinary tract infection. Detecting prostate cancer early is important and saves lives. But many of those identified by the PSA test as having elevated levels of the antigen could potentially undergo painful treatment with significant life-altering side effects, which were unnecessary. Also, up to 15% of men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels (a false-negative result), meaning that many men would receive unwarranted reassurance from this test. Guidelines in most countries, therefore, note that the possible benefits of testing are outweighed by the potential harms of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, making it unsuitable for screening everyone."
Nov 5th 2019
Extract: "Ken Loach’s film, Sorry We Missed You, tells the harrowing tale of Ricky, Abby and their family’s attempts to get by in a precarious world of low paid jobs and the so-called “gig economy”. But how realistic is it? Can Loach’s film be accused of undue pessimism?"
Nov 3rd 2019
Extract: "Travel to Prague, Kyiv, or Bucharest today and you will find glittering shopping malls filled with imported consumer goods: perfumes from France, fashion from Italy, and wristwatches from Switzerland. At the local Cineplex, urbane young citizens queue for the latest Marvel blockbuster movie. They stare at sleek iPhones, perhaps planning their next holiday to Paris, Goa, or Buenos Aires. The city center hums with cafés and bars catering to foreigners and local elites who buy gourmet groceries at massive hypermarkets. Compared to the scarcity and insularity of the communist past, Central and Eastern Europe today is brimming with new opportunities.......In these same cities, however, pensioners and the poor struggle to afford the most basic amenities. Older citizens choose between heat, medicine, and food. In rural areas, some families have returned to subsistence agriculture."
Nov 3rd 2019
EXTRACTS: "Genetic clustering has existed in all past societies. People have typically been relatively genetically similar to others nearby. But most of this was because of limited mobility."........."But in the 19th and 20th centuries, people started to move about more. Societies opened up geographically, and socially. This new mobility has created a new kind of clustering – what the American author Thomas Friedman called a “great sorting out”.".........".....this is now visible at the genetic level too."
Oct 9th 2019
EXTRACT: "The idea that we are living in an entrepreneurial age, experiencing rapid disruptive technological innovation on a scale amounting to a new “industrial revolution” is a pervasive modern myth. Scholars have written academic papers extolling the coming of the “entrepreneurial economy”. Policymakers and investors have pumped massive amounts of funding into start-up ecosystems and innovation. Business schools, universities and schools have moved entrepreneurship into their core curricula. The only problem is that the West’s golden entrepreneurial and innovation age is behind it. Since the 1980s entrepreneurship, innovation and, more generally, business dynamics, have been steadily declining – particularly so in the US. "
Aug 28th 2019
EXTRACT: ". But today, the impulse to gain attention on social media has produced a discourse of extreme defamation and scorched-earth tactics aimed at destroying one’s opponents. We desperately need a broad-based movement to stand up against this type of political discourse. American history is replete with examples of people who worked together to solve – or at least defuse – serious problems, often against great odds and at significant personal risk. But the gradual demise of fact-based history in schools seems to have deprived many Americans of the common ground and optimism needed to work through challenges in the same way they once did."
Aug 8th 2019
Consider the following facts as you wend your way to the Guggenheim Museum and its uppermost gallery, where you will presently find The Death of Michael Stewart (1983), Basquiat’s gut-punching tribute to a slain artist, and the centerpiece for an exhibition that could hardly be more timely.