Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Hard Times by Russell Scott Interview & Review

Weaving declassified CIA files with the intense truth behind the international diamond trade, The Hard Times tells the story of Dr. Ray Moffett who finds himself facing an abyss, and one foot’s already over the edge. After his best friend and partner dies weeks after retiring, Ray is forced to face his own future, and it looks pretty grim – a few more years in the ER, then pushed into retirement himself, a wrecked marriage ruined by an affair and two grown kids who couldn’t care less.

Ray’s life takes an interesting turn when he meets a professional hunter from Namibia named Fritz Dietrich. Ray, who has never fired a gun, decides to travel to Africa to redefine his life by hunting the very things that can take it. But it isn't only the animals that intend to kill Ray, his biggest threat is the man standing by his side.

Fritz is a survivor, wanted in three countries for smuggling, gun running and a shoot out that left six policemen and soldiers dead. He’s only managed to escape prison with the help of his bother, Manfred. Manfred leads security for all mining operations in Namibia and works directly for the president. But he has a few problems of his own, including finding a way to hide $200 million worth of black market diamonds from U.N. investigators. Ray finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It is fundamentally a look at the ways men love, the way they order their relationships and the nobility that is found in dealing with those hard times we all must face in life,” Scott said.

Russell Scott is the pen name of Dr. Russell Scott Anderson, medical director at the Anderson Cancer Center in Meridian, Miss. Originally written as a screen play, his 2010 murder mystery, Time Donors Wanted, will be reissued by China Grove Press this fall to coincide with the release of The Hard Times.

THE HARD TIMES by Russell Scott
China Grove Press, Sept. 1, 2015
ISBN: 9780985267131
$25  Hardback  Literary action adventure

Advance Praise

“It was wonderful. At last, a doctor that tells us what it is that he knows that we don’t know, and it’s a page-turner. I loved it. Hurrah!”
~ Ellen Gilchrist, winner of the American Book Award

“Scott gives us a look at the way men love, told from perspectives we rarely see by an author intimately familiar with his subjects. The Hard Times propels the reader forward with its intensity while remaining both literate and profound.”
~ Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump

“Every physician is an observer and chronicler of the human condition...and then a few doctors also happen to be great storytellers. Scott fills that description. The Hard Times does not fit in any niche category...not strictly a crime novel, not a medical drama, nor simply a wonderful study in characters and emotions...Somehow it manages to be all these things and to come straight from the heart of a healing soul.”
~ Dwalia South M.D., author of Una Voce

“With The Hard Times, Russell Scott has written a luminous novel that casts a penetrating light on men and the things and the people they love. Moving with skill and deftness from the rich lushness of Mississippi to the terrifyingly beautiful Namibian dessert it is that increasingly rare art form – a book that offers a moving and penetrating glimpse into a man’s soul. I loved it from beginning to end.”
~ Deborah Johnson, author of The Secret of Magic

The Author

RUSSELL SCOTT ANDERSON, M.D. is a radiation oncologist who serves as the medical director of Anderson Cancer Center in Meridian, Miss. He is a former Navy diver who worked in operations in the Middle East, Central America, and in support of the Navy’s EOD community, SEALS, the U.S. Army’s Green Berets, the Secret Service, and the New York Police Department at various times during his time in the service.

The father of seven has written the family oriented literary columns Una Voce and The Uncommon Thread in the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He has also served the Journal as the chairman of the editorial advisory board. A collection of his columns was published as The Uncommon Thread in 2012. He has also written as screenwriter R.S. Anderson on several feature films, he is the author of the novels Timedonors Wanted and The Hard Times under the pseudonym Russell Scott, and is the editor of the literary journal China Grove.

An Interview With
Russell Scott

The Hard Times is partially based on your own experience in Africa. How much is fact vs. fiction?

It's almost all true; the bits are just strung together in a way to make a coherent story. The characters are fictional, their circumstances are universal, so it's a story woven from facts.

When did you go to Africa and why?

I've been to Africa several times, both the northern and the southern ends of the continent. But this book comes primarily from the time I spent in Namibia hunting.

Are the two brothers, Fritz and Manfred, based on real people?

Yes and no. I know that sounds disingenuous, but the circumstances are altered. They are both based on an amalgam or real people. As an oncologist, I live with Manfred's story every day, so I am perhaps closest to him, even though he is a bit evil and imperfect. His motives are like many people facing such an event in their lives – they want to protect their family. Manfred can't be judged too harshly, given the circumstances of his childhood. Fritz, on the other hand, is a man who has looked across the sights of a rifle at another man and circumstances have demanded that he pull the trigger. That is something I can relate to as well. He understands both the detachment that that takes and the toll it takes on a man's soul.

Can you tell us about the role of the international diamond trade in The Hard Times?

It is the framework for the story. The Kimberly Process – the name comes from the city in South Africa where the diamond producing states came together in 2000 to try and regulate the trade in "conflict diamonds" sometimes called "blood diamonds" for the blood that is spilled in their wake as a financier of conflicts and regional wars. It was soon adopted by the General Council of the United Nations and resulted in the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme. In many ways, its intent has been subverted by the country of Zimbabwe, under Robert Mugabe, and in that country, nationalization of diamond mining has resulted in "artisanal miners" unprotected and exploited, digging diamonds for little or nothing. The destabilization of the Zimbabwean currency, created a state where the diamonds had to be sold for a worthless currency, so many of them flooded into the black market. This story is a fictional supposition of what would happen if...

What do you want readers to learn from your protagonist, Dr. Ray Moffett?

That sometimes we are most blind to that which is most important to us. In Ray's case, it is his wife. In many ways, Ray is an idiot, just like a lot of men, ego and temptation and just plain stupidity conspire to ruin our lives. This story is designed to help see what is important and what's crap.

What did you find challenging about writing The Hard Times?

Publishing it, it was very easy to write, it flowed out. Sometimes it felt like I couldn't catch my breath I was writing so fast. But, when it was finished, and I read it, it was somehow too personal to share. But with some help from my friends, it is here now, and I hope it's worth the reading. We have become too conditioned to heroes and villains, black and white, good and evil, but life is rarely that simple, so I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

My Review:
Dr. Ray Moffett is at a turning point in his life. What is he going to do? His has died right after he retired and he does not know what he should do next. He has no family left, his kids do not care and his marriage is over. He goes to Africa with someone he has just met, named Fritz to hunt. Fritz is wanted in places all over the world. Ray realizes that he has made the wrong decision to go with him. What is he going to do now?  This book is full of mystery and suspense. I give this book a 4/5. I was given this book for a review and these are all my opinions.

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