When I tell people that I'm publishing a novel the most frequent question I get is, "So, what's it about?"


Manipulated is a political thriller set during the 2016 presidential election season from January 2015 through January 2017. During these two years, a fictional account of the election is chronicled. The first half of the book provides a back story illustrating an American political system soiled by political parties, a misguided media, and lots and lots of money, all orchestrated by a clandestine organization known as Mouse Trap.

The second half of the book provides a glimpse at what the 2016 election might have looked like had a different candidate been introduced into the campaign. A candidate not bound to either political party, deep-pocket investors, or Washington insiders. A candidate who had absolutely no interest in the job but is drafted by those that know him best to fix a broken system. A candidate who personifies integrity, character, and humility. A candidate whose core values are guided by his faith.


Would it work? Could it work? Would it be allowed to work?



In the course of writing fiction an author often employs his or her own life experiences when deciding where the action takes place, what characters are involved, and what things will be featured. That was certainly the case as I wrote Manipulated. Here are a few examples:


My best good buddy Clyde (pictured with me below) - Our family is blessed with three canine companions but only one of them is my best good buddy. One of the characters in the book has an Aussiedoodle (not coincidentally) named Clyde.


Bard's Ridge, Tennessee - This fictional town where several early chapters take place is the blending of the two communities where I spent most of my life. I was born and raised in the small town of Bardwell, Kentucky where I lived until I went to college. Immediately after college I moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee where I lived for 30 years until the summer of 2017. Hence, Bard's Ridge is a tribute to the two places that have been home to me the longest.


Roane County, Tennessee - My wife and I moved to Roane County this past summer {2017}. Our address is in the town of Harriman. A number of Roane locales made their way into the book including Watts Bar Lake (Watts Bar sunset pictured below}, River Road, Ten Mile, Kingston, and I-40 Exit 347. Two prominently featured fictional locations, Richfield College and the American Eagle Diner, are also sited in Roane County.



Knoxville, Tennessee - Being a 30 year resident of East Tennessee our family has spent lots of quality time in the city of Knoxville. Knoxville locations featured in the book include the World's Fair Park, Calhouns Restaurant, Neyland Stadium, and the Knoxville Convention Center. A newspaper named the Knoxville Chronicle (fictional) also plays a big part in the early chapters of the story.


Murray State University- I am a proud alumnus of Murray State University ('86) and have included my alma mater in a scene as the site of the third and final presidential debate of the 2016 election.


Stahl and Adair- The book includes characters with each of these last names, my maternal and paternal grandmothers' maiden names.


Sprinkled throughout the book there are other homages to people that I've known and places that I've been. Some are intentional, in some cases I may have just been stuck on a name for the next character, but either way the book is a mosaic of people, places, and things I've experienced during my 53 years.



To my editors Deckie and Linda, first of all, thank you for the reminder that I really should have paid more attention in high school English. Secondly, I promise I actually listened to some of your advice. You both made the book a better product.

To my cover designer Barbie, thank you for your patience with my many edits. Your work helped me tell the story.

To my doctors McColl, Pardue, Midis, and Foust, thank you for helping me to be cancer-free. Without you this story would never have been finished.

To my friends Tanya, Matt, Tyler, and Bob, thank you for reading early versions of the book and providing consistent encouragement. Your feedback help me to keep pushing to “the end”.

To my kids Ben, Eli, and Christina, thank you for putting up with years of “I’m going to write a book.” Believe it or not, I finally did.

To my beautiful (inside and out) wife Kara, how many times did your gentle nudges keep me going? I wanted to quit after 77 pages, you said to keep going. I wanted to quit after 150 pages, you said keep going. I wanted to quit with just a few chapters to go…you get the point. Even after the book was done and I was ready to put it on the shelf and not pursue publication, you wouldn’t let me drop it. Although I may have written the words, this project is truly a partnership that would never have become a book without you. To the moon and back!

To God, my Creator, Sustainer, and Savior, I am nothing without You. Despite my daily failings You still love me. It is my prayer that this book would somehow bring You glory.



Manipulated is a three book series of political thrillers. 

Manipulated - Published December 2017 - Now Available!

Manipulated: Book Two – Rise of the Mustangs (working title) is planned for late 2018.

Manipulated: Book Three – Declaration of Independence (working title) is planned for late 2019 and will focus on the 2020 presidential campaign.