American novelist Mike Verant’s debut political thriller ”Power in the Age of Lies” tells the story of a coal engineer, a woman, who’s fighting to save her destitute Kentucky mining town, and whose honesty and ethics force her to re-examine her own climate change denialist thinking and, ultimately, to challenge a corrupt U.S. White House administration that she has joined. When this blogger asked Mr Verant what led him to write this novel and why, he graciously took time to answer this and a few other questions.
”I care deeply about the themes of the novel — truth, integrity, and empathy,” Verant, who writes under the nanem of M. Verant, said. “The election of Donald Trump in 2016 in America revolted me, as if an idiot-savant had risen to personify our society’s trend toward self-gratification, dishonesty, and cruelty. I’ve always been politically active but knocking on doors for candidates no longer seemed sufficient, so I began writing this novel full-time in June of 2017. I finished the first draft in December, and the third major revision wrapped in June of this year. So the project lasted almost exactly a year.”
“In my novel, the protagonists are heroes because they seek either objective truth about the world, or their own self-realization. Although the book evangelizes correct climate science, I tried not to pound the reader with factual arguments. Instead, the message is to think — seek facts, care about people, and fight for good,” he added.
The characters Madison and Conrad are interesting. “Madison is a 25 year old woman, raised by her coal-miner father in a small Kentucky town,” Verant told me by email. “Her life has been shaped by the economic collapse of the coal mining industry through the Appalachian coal belt. She’s an engineer, a bit of a nerd, and a powerful leader. But her driving force is empathy; she cares desperately about the damage to her community, and through the story, her actions and the evolution of her beliefs are driven by her care about others.”
“Conrad is 31, and a passionate activist in the fight against climate change,” Verant added. “He abandoned his successful career building solar power plants to pursue politics so he could fight more effectively against global warming. He just won a critical U.S. Senate election that broke Republican control, so his position should be immensely powerful. But he’s frustrated and disillusioned with politics. Now he’s hunting for the motivation and means to fight again. He’s also Latinx, and although immigration and race are not the main focus of ‘Power in the Age of Lies,’ Conrad is a strong advocate for victims of discrimination.”
Verant said that Madison and Conrad are passionate people pursuing causes that collide.
“I loved writing their interaction,” he said.
In the novel, a fictionalized Trump lurches from one scandal to another while the laws and customs of the USA are at risk. So in one sense, the book is a warning, a wake-up call, a call to action. Was that Verant’s intent or did he just want to write a good yarn and vent hisfeelings at the time time?
Without missing a beat, he said: “This was intent. I wrote the novel to be an exciting, fun story, but criticism of the Trump administration was there from the first — the book’s afterward has 70 notes that tie the story to fact. However, I musy admit that venting also feels good, too.”
Verant maintains a website for his novel at https://www.mverant.com