Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Forward to Camelot Blog Tour (+$25 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway!)

Title: Forward to Camelot
Author: Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Publisher: Drake Valley Press
Date Published: November 11, 2003
Format: eBook
Genre: History/Speculation 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours 

WHERE WERE YOU THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SAVED? On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003 with a new Afterword from the authors. On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK's own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price. In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible-while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President's murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both. History CAN be altered .
~~~Making History Realistic ~~~
Finding a way to make historical figures real, breathing, dimensional characters was always at the top of our priority list for FORWARD TO CAMELOT. More than anything else, it was critical that Kevin and I find a way not only to personalize famous historic figures—we had 7 real-life historic figures in the novel—but we also wanted to show them in a fresh light. We also wanted our readers to care, especially about the two men at the center of the story—John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, both of whom have been written and spoken about extensively for 50 years—and to feel as though they really knew both men by the end of the story.

Both men were surprisingly difficult to pin down, in terms of their real personalities and characters. Kennedy, a formidable politician, covered many of his deficiencies and uncertainties with his vivid personality and wit, as well as his family’s remarkable PR machine. Oswald, an intelligence agent virtually all of his adult life, was always playing a part, and it was very hard to discern what was really him and what was the role he was playing. To find who they really were, we did extensive research, not only about the assassination and the circumstances surrounding it, but also about Kennedy and Oswald.

What we were looking for were bits and pieces we could fashion into cohesive portraits of each man. If we could find information that was virtually unknown about them, it would be even better.

We did find some golden nuggets that we thought really explained a lot of what made up each man’s character. For Kennedy, it was important to realize how sick he was, and how much pain he was in all the time—and how it was second nature to him to hide it. For Oswald, who’s been depicted for 50 years as a psychotic loser, we had to show that he was calm and cool under pressure, that he thought quickly and could be brave.

One of the best bits we came across in our research was about the president’s father, Joe Kennedy, Sr. Joe was determined that his son would be president, and he would let nothing stand in the way of achieving that goal. Knowing how sick Jack was, Joe wanted to do all he could to hide that fact from the public, thinking they would be less likely to vote for a sick man than one who seemed healthy and vigorous (a word that was constantly applied to the Kennedy clan). Jack traveled extensively, and he always had a staff member carrying a bag of medication for him. Joe knew that if Jack ever got separated from that bag or ran out of supplies, he’d have to go to a doctor or hospital for more, which could mean exposure of his medical condition.

To avoid that, Joe took safe-deposit boxes in banks all over the country, and stashed medication for Jack in every one of them. That way, there’d always be a supply nearby for him, wherever he was, and it could be kept secret.

When Kevin and I read that, we knew we had to use it. It spoke to the resourcefulness of the Kennedys, and their fear of Jack’s frailty as well as his public image. What was even better was that no novel about Kennedy had EVER mentioned it. It was too good to pass up.

With Oswald, who has been described in a hundred different ways by different authors, but almost all of them maligning his intelligence and his character, we needed something much more positive, something unexpected. We found a passing reference that said he was a good dancer, and used it. It was small, but it humanized him.

Because Kennedy and Oswald appear in many scenes together in the book, we also had a chance to compare the two men—and I’m convinced if they’d ever met, they’d have liked each other. I was genuinely surprised at how much they had in common: both men had a domineering parent (JFK’s father, Oswald’s mother), dysfunctional marriages, children they adored, a background in Naval Intelligence (JFK early in WWII, Oswald later, as a Marine), IQ’s within one point of each other (JFK 119, Oswald 118), and much more. Strange bedfellows, indeed!

Turning Kennedy and Oswald into flesh-and-blood people readers could believe in was a great challenge but ultimately, something we’re very proud of, and FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition is a better book because we went looking for them.
~~~Try an Excerpt!~~~
It was a famous photograph, one I’d seen many times. In the center of the photograph was a tall, burly man, with thinning hair slicked back, a large face, big flappy ears, right hand raised piously, facing a small brisk woman with dark hair and glasses. On the man’s right, crowded next to him, seeming crushed by his vitality, was another small dark woman, her face blank with conflicting emotions.
But the man, for all his bulk and heartiness, was not the magnetic force in the photograph. The woman on his left was. Younger than anyone else, with dark glossy hair, in a bulky light suit, her profile regal even in her anguish, blood spattering her clothes, she stood watching sightlessly. Her beauty and grief drew all eyes. Her pain was almost visible on the photo itself.
“This is the swearing in of Lyndon Johnson as president on Air Force One in Dallas, on November 22, 1963. His wife is on his right. Jacqueline Kennedy stands on his left. Sarah Hughes is the judge administering the oath. John F. Kennedy had been assassinated only a couple of hours before.”
“I know the photograph, George.”
“Good for you. Look here.” He pointed carefully at the almost invisible edges of the book under Johnson’s massive hand. “Johnson, of course, needed to be sworn on a Bible.  Here it is, being held by Mrs. Hughes.”
“You want the Bible Johnson took the oath on?”
“I do. That Bible belonged to President Kennedy.”
I looked up in surprise. “It was Kennedy’s Bible? I didn’t know that.”
“It was the only Bible on Air Force One. Kennedy supposedly traveled everywhere with it. When they were scrambling to find a Bible—Johnson insisted on taking the oath before he left Dallas—they remembered Kennedy’s Bible and used that.”
“Well, can’t you buy the Bible from the Kennedy family? Even though I can’t imagine they’d give it up.”
“Well, now, that’s a problem. The Bible disappeared right after this picture was taken.”
I hated to admit it, but that intrigued me. It was getting harder to remember that I’d just lost my job a few hours before. “How could it disappear?”
“Well, the story goes that Sarah Hughes actually had it in her hands when she left Air Force One in Dallas. You have to understand—that day, the whole country was in a state of shock, and people did crazy things without realizing it, half the time. Coming down the ramp, Mrs. Hughes met a man dressed in a suit and tie and sunglasses, a man she believed to be a Secret Service agent. He asked her for the Bible. I don’t think she even realized she still had it in her hand. She gave it to him immediately; she thought he would return it to the Kennedy family.”
He paused. I was riveted. “At least, that’s what she said. But the Bible disappeared that day and was never seen again.” George paused again and gave me a devilish grin. “JFK’s own Bible, used to swear in Lyndon Johnson on Air Force One... what do you think an item like that would be worth?”
I shook my head. I couldn’t imagine.
“Nobody can,” he said softly. “Do you understand now? As a piece of history, part of one of the twentieth-century’s most pivotal events… that Bible would be beyond price. And I intend to have it.”

“You want me to find the Bible?”

“Not exactly. I know where it was on November 22, 1963. Sarah Hughes had it at Love Field.”

“Well, a fat lot of good that’s going to do!” I exclaimed. “Unless you’re somehow going to travel back in time and pick it up—”

“I’m not,” George said reasonably. “You are.”

~~~Meet Kevin and Susan!~~~
 SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production. Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC. After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television. His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014.
Susan and Kevin will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour and their Book Blast Tour So make sure to be following and commenting for your chance to win! 


  1. Thanks for hosting us today, Andra! It's good to be here!

  2. Hi Susan! Glad to have you :) How are you doing today??

    1. Having a great day, thanks, and hope you are too! I love connecting with readers!

  3. Great excerpt, thank you. I enjoyed reading it.


    1. Thanks, Rita! So glad you enjoyed it, Hope you'll check out the whole book; it's a real roller-coaster ride!

  4. I enjoy history and this adds a neat twist to the story. Thanks for sharing :)

    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

    1. Glad you checked it out! Hope you'll take a chance on the whole book--there's a LOT of real history packed into it that most people don't know!

  5. This sounds like a really great book! I like the twist on the whole Kennedy assassination.

    1. Thanks, Glenda! Hope you enjoy the whole book!

  6. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Sounds like a great read!!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

    1. Thanks, Natasha! Hope you enjoy it!

  7. This is going to be fascinating.


    1. We think it is, Mary - and we had to stay interested a lot longer in order to write it! In fact, I'm STILL reading Kennedy assassination books - the good ones keep adding to my knowledge base and reminding me what we lost.