Friday, May 20, 2011

An Interview With Peter Thomas Senese On Writing

Wall Street is the setting
of many of
Peter Thomas Senese's
1. When did you realize you wanted to become an author?
First, I'm not sure if there is a traditional route for anyone to become an author, particularly since every writer draws upon her or his life experiences. However, the reason of how and why I came to write is shared in exact detail in my novel revolving around international child abduction, love, parenting, and a father and son's belief in one another titled 'Chasing The Cyclone' due out later this summer. At the heart of my writing was, as it remains today, a desire to share with my son whatever wisdom I have learned so he may enjoy his life to the fullest. It has been said, and it is true, that if you read carefully any of my novels, you will hear the voice of a father talking to his son, and telling him how much he loves him.

2. Was your first book 'War On Wall Street' a success?
I am very proud of that particular book for many reasons, including the fact that I was able to start and actually complete my first novel and that it went on to sell extremely well. In fact, 'War on Wall Street' became the Number One best selling book release for three consecutive weeks for one of the nation's leading book publishing wholesaler's 'Independent Press' catagory, while also being ranked in their 'Top Ten Fiction Best Sellers List'during that same time period. When I consider the literary icons who were on these lists, it was both a humbling experience and a very proud time. This also made me realize that perhaps being a successful independent publisher and author could be very rewarding.

As it turned out, 'Cloning Christ' followed 'War on Wall Street' and hit the nation's leading wholesalers' Best Seller's list for ten weeks. As an independent publisher, this was a very substantial achievement. I was in some extraordinary company for over a year. When 'Den of the Assassin' was released, it also followed a similiar path; however there was no sustainability because, well, shortly after 'Den's' release, the circumstances that led to 'Chasing The Cyclone' unfolded - and I was gone, racing into the storms of international child abduction on the other side of the planet.

3. What did you learn about the publishing business from these experience?
So many things. The first thing that leaps out is that I really enjoy writing and sharing stories. Of course, it is critical that an author writes a compelling and well-written story that matters today - meaning it is current and has relevance to readers. Without this, it is difficult to obtain any traction with regard to interest and support from publishing wholesalers and book stores. It is also very important that the product you create is manufactured well: in my case I have purposefully only released extraordinarily crafted hardcover books, though I am now in the process of releasing my backlist in mass-market paperback. I also learned if you're going to be taken seriously by the trade, you need to have an ample supply of books and a good marketing plan that you actually intend to execute.

In my case, I have never had a hardcover first printing of less than 15,000 books. I also learned that it was critically important to carefully monitor the flow of books you put into your wholesalers hands, and that if you can avoid working with a distributor, you're way ahead of the game because the distributors then will sell your product to the wholesalers, and you're the one at the short end of the financial stick. Fortunately, my publishing companies have strong contracts within the trade, which is something I think most independent publishers do not have. I also learned just how critically important selling your product to the library market is ... which also lead me to forming such a deep and healthy appreciation of libraries.

Lastly, and most importantly, an author writes for the love and passion of the art, but a publisher publishes because it is a business.

4. What is your perception on how the publishing industry has evolved from the time you first published 'War On Wall Street'?
It has changed leaps and bounds due to the e-book and society's ongoing evolution on how we take in information and actually process that information. Our 'thinking' has changed. It is my opinion that due to the Internet, many individuals in society have a tendancy to skim for information as oppossed to spike for knowlege. This means most individuals dedicate a few minutes at most to obtain information on a topic, whereas in the past, they would alternately turn to a book.

What's really being lost is our ability to be innovative. It is through books that our imaginations unlock and blossom, and I think we're loosing part of this. Unfortunately, the book selling business has taken major hits because individuals do not purchase books as much as they once did. And I say this despite any recent trends that may say otherwise because the statistics used include previously released 'remainder' books, which I assert should not be included in new book sales statistics.

The other item I mentioned is the advent of the e-book. It has given the publishing industry a boost since it allows readers to access books in a non-traditional way. It also has increased the number of publications now available. In many ways, the publishing business has followed the path of the online music business. I think we're seeing the 'Long Tail Theory' at work. Hopefully, the issues of piracy that have plagued the film and music businesses will not be as impactful on the publishing industry.

Sadly, over the past few years we have seen several of the nation's largest wholesalers file for bankruptcy and cloe their operations. Each time this has occurred, distributors and publishers closed their doors because they were not able to withstand the heavy financial fallout that occurred. Unfortunately, many authors were at the end of the line, and did not get paid what they might have been owed. The other thing we're seeing is the tragic closure of independent and national book stores. Something has to change - and change must target how society embraces reading.

5. You are a self-professed 'Librophiliac'. Can you elaborate?
A librophiliac is someone who loves and supports libraries. When I began my second draft of 'War On Wall Street', I did most of my writing at either the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Map Room of the New York City Central Library, or at the Butler Library at Columbia University. And I fell back in love with libraries. Since that time, every book I have written or am working on is written in part in a library. I don't think that will ever change. But my love of libraries runs deeper than where I write. I truly believe that a book is a free ticket to anywhere in the universe and a library is a realm transporter that can take us anywhere. So, I can't tell you how many libraries around the world I have visited, but the number is many. In fact, I have planned vacations around my desire to visit a particular library. I write about this in an essay titled 'Confessions of a librophiliac'.

There is one other component to being a librophiliac that I believe is important. A librophiliac not only loves libraries, but does something in their own way to support a library, whether it be volunterring, advocacy work, or providing financial support and donations. In my case, I have made private donations to over 75 libraries, have worked hard toadvocate that library doors across the nation remain open and properly funded, and to my delight, I have voluntered to help others with their reading and writing skills. And I loved it!

7. Do you have any rituals when you are working on a book?
I think every successful author who is committed to completeing a story must set parameters to write each and every day. Writing is a job, and must be treated that way.

Typically, my novels average 135,000 words. This usually takes me eight to ten weeks to write ... when I'm actually writing. And when I"m writing, I'm doing very little of anything else, including sleeping.

8. How much research goes into your books?
As I previously stated, every writer draws from their personal experiences. I am no different. So, I have a tendancy to write about things I am very familiar with since in my familiarity, I typically have a keen interest in the subject or topic I will write about. This said, and as a historical fiction writer, knowing your facts and presenting historical content or subject matter in the body of your story is essential because without accurate fact gathering and presentation, you are at risk of not including or misrepresenting data that will drive a story. So research is the most important component of writing before you ever put ink to pad or begin typing on your computer.

9. Titles such as 'Cloning Christ', 'The Den of the Assassin', and 'Chasing The Cyclone' are extraordinarly compelling. Do you come up with your own titles, and if so, can you elaborate?
A book's title is one of the most important initially bridges an author may use to connect with their reader. A title must provide insight to the potential reader while creating compelling intrigue that causes the reader, especially if the reader has no or limited familiarity with the writer, to say to themselves, "What's that all about?" In many ways, the title of a book must act like a magnet and pull, compel, or lure a potential reader to take a look at the book.

This said, the title must tell the story entire story in no more than a few words. For example, the title 'Cloning Christ' not only gives the reader that the novel is a story concerning religion and science, but it also may provide the reader to understant the existence of a spiritual quest, which is the absolute undercurrent thesis in the story of Dr. Max Train. In 'Chasing The Cyclone', the title represents the nightmare that any parent who has a child abducted must enter into. Realistically, who in their right mind wants to chase a cyclone? Nobody.

10. What was the most research you conducted for a book?
Initially, I want to say its 'Cloning Christ'. The subject matter of this novel dealt with cutting-edge genomics and biblical history. One mistake in presentation and that would have removed the credability of the premises of the novel. Fortunately, the historical content and fact were presented correctly. Amen. However, I think in truth the research that was required that eventually allowed me to write 'Chasing The Cyclone' was probably the most extensive, exhausting, and consumming, though I did not know at the time that I was conducting this research that I would eventually write a book about the subject. What I was more interested in doing was knowing as much as I can in order to bring my internationally abducted child home. Which, thank God, I successfully did. When I wrote 'Chasing The Cyclone' I drew upon
my experiences and knowledge. Seven weeks from the time I began and 140,000 words later, came what I consider to be the most personal story I have ever written.

11. What was the easist book for you to write?
'Chasing The Cyclone' was the easiest story to write because the story is inspired by my own experiences. Because of this, it was also the hardest to emotionally write.

12. Can you tell us about your activism with children, and literacy?
I think it is a deeply private matter when a person chooses to act philanthropically. However, I think you are referring to my activism concerning international parental child abduciton prevention. This area of focus has been a natural progression of things important to me due my and my family's experiences in this area. Fortuately the international courts under the Hague Convention ruled in our favor, but even then, the nightmare we faced was far from over. It was due to this ordeal that I decided to act and try to make a positive difference by raising public and judicial awareness of the issues at hand while also trying to provide useful tools others may use who unfortunately may face similiar storms of having a child at risk of international parental child abduction. It also became apparant to me that I needed to dedicate time and resources conducting research on critical issues so that the data and findings derived from this work may guide new child abduciton prevention laws and policies at the state and national level. And that is what my dear friend and fellow child advocate Carolyn Ann Vlk and I have done.

Some of the things I have done to make a positive difference include writing the upcoming novel 'Chasing The Cyclone' that critics have embraced. I have also created what appears to be the first and only educational documentary film series on IPCA. It is distributed on the Internet at no charge. I have recieved many messages from individuals from various walks of life: at-risk parents and government officials alike. And their words are all the same: that the information presented has made a differnce in their understanding and lives. And that is so good to hear because that is why I created the ongoing series. I've also created what appears to be one of the most informative privately owned websites concerrning IPCA so information is readly accessible to those who may need it, while the research and connecting reports I have created with Carolyn Ann Vlk concerning abduction growth rates and abduction risk not only have been widely distributed, but are the basis and core of certian legislation we are now moving on. I am also pleased to know that due to Carolyn and my activism, the Prevent Departure Program has been widely dispersed as a child abduction prevention tool targeted parents of IPCA can utalize by coordinating with the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues. And that in itself is a big game-changer. And I am very proud of the work that I provided in assisting my dear friend Carolyn Vlk in advocating for Florida's 'Child Abduction Prevention Act' that she drafed and worked so hard for and is now law. Undeniably and intolerably, IPCA is a growing epidemic that causes tremendous harm for the stolen child or children and the targeted parent. So, in my own way, I'm trying to do something about it.

As far as my activisim concerning literacy, I believe that when a person reads, they forster a deeper connection to the world due to newly obtained knowledge. When this occurs, the world becomes a better place. In my opinion, reading and knowlege makes this world a better, closer place. So, with this in mind, I have at times made various donations to libraries across the country, and, I have participated in programs geared to assist others learn how to read. And I have to tell you, one of the most amazing things I have witnessed on several occassions is when an adult learns how to read. It is as if the world blossoms before them. And that is very cool.

13. Who inspires you to write?
That's easy: my son. Each book I have written is dedicated to and for him.

14. What is the most important book you have read?
Outside of the Holy Bible, the book that has had the most meaning and impact on my life is the autobiography titled 'Unbowed' written by Kenyan Nobel Prize Laurette Professor Wangari Maathai. Professor Wangari Maathai is truly one of the most important voices of our time. This dynamic and indefatigable Kikuyu woman of Kenya has illuminated rays of light through the dark clouds of Kenya, and so Africa. Standing in the face of oppression and unbearable adversity she faced when Kenya was not a land of freedom, but a state of oppression and discord, it was Wangari's resilient voice, her never-ending effort to stand strong in the winds of injustice, and her ceaseless love of mankind that has in many ways begun the great changes toward democracy and freedom for all individuals not just in Kenya, but in Africa.

Acting on what is right . . . standing up for your beliefs . . . standing down oppression and hatred . . . and nurturing Mother Earth as she continues to nurture and provide for all, are themes this visionary African woman - who is the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize - shares with the world in her brilliantly written life story. Readers across the world - men and women of all colors and creeds and beliefs will tap into the determination of this extraordinary activist who has taught so many about how love of each other can grow through respecting and nurturing the land we live on.

There are two really important themes that resonate with me. The first is to be 'Unbowed' is to stand strong in your beliefs, morals, and ethics. For if you do, you will know 'Uhuru' - Freedom!

15. You have been the target and victim of defamation, slander, and libeouous offenses. Can you expand upon this?
I am undesirous to comment other than to say I was the target of malicious online attacks to which I took successful civil action before the appropriate courts, including obtaining various court-ordered restraining orders and other significant punative commands issued against those I brought litigation against. Due to additional legal actions I have undertaken, I am unable to discuss anything further at this point other than to say that I will continue my actions in this matter.

16. When your child was abducted you have stated that you were required to chase into the biggest nightmare and storm of your life. You have openly discussed the use of slander and defamation by an abducting parent in order to sanction their criminal activity of abducting a child. Can you elaborate on what you had to deal with and what others who may face the same circumstances can do to protect themselves?
Under the Hague Convention On The Civil Apects Of International Parental child Abduction that provides a legally strategy for abductors to potentially remain in the country they have criminally abducted a child to. In essence, the abducting parent, who has violated both Federal and various states criminal codes including the crime of kidnapping, will conceivably do whatever is necessary in order to defend against potential long-term criminal sentencing. The way they do this is found under Article 13 of the treaty. Specifically, the abductor can attempt to make a legal defense against charges of child abduction if they are able to prove that it is not in the abducted child's best interest to be returned back to the country of origin. This means that the abductor must create a mud-slinging campaign against the targeted parent. One of the techniques used to do this is the Internet. And realistically, it is very easy to accomplish since the Internet does allow for anonymity so long as a person does not knowingly and purposefully use the name of an individual and then use that person's name and create websites or web pages or web blogs to harass and cause harm to that individual.

In my case, during the extensive litigation that occurred on the other side of the world, a number of web blogs suddenly came to life to attack me. Of course, the abducting parent presented the comments to the courts. However, not only was I able to prove to the courts the untruths that were alledged, but also was able to have my team of experts navigate where the statements were originating from -which to nobody's surprise was primarily back to the country the abducting parent previously resided in or the small Pacific island-nation that the litigation was occuring from. Forunately, the courts acted thoroughly and then swiftly. Unfortunately, the use of slander and defamation is the most prominent tactic an abductor will use when defending a Hague case. Surely, I was not the first or the ten-thousandth person who has had to previously deal with this matter, and unquestionably, I will not have been the last.

In order to curtail the fraudulent use of Article 13 in Hague defense strategies, I think it is necessary for a Hague court to punish a person who makes false accusations, particularly if that person can be connected to defamatory, slanderous, and libelous public statements against a targeted parent.

17. What is your favorite place to write?
What immediately comes to mind is the nobel Great Reading Room located in the New York City Central Library on 5th Avenue. But then I have flashbacks of the many days I had my feet in the sand at Paradise Cove in Malibu. There is also something special about sitting at the Student Union in Madision, Wisconsin with a large legal pad and a handful of pencil. And the gingerbread house styled Pelican Inn, surrounded with centuries old redwood trees located a stone's throw away from the Pacific Ocean is utterly enchanting. Perhaps that's the point - being a writer has allowed me to travel to some wonderful places that are just as important to me as the stories themselves. In this, I have really learned to celebrate this craft and embrace the joy it has brought to me. And going back to rituals, whenever I write a book, I write in all of these locations, and a few locations I have not mentioned.

18. What's next?I have a fairly hectic plate right now. 'Chasing The Cyclone' will be released this summber, then 'Predator's Games' in the Fall, and 'Quest' during Christmas'. So that's three books - all very different and unique that are expected to be released in 2011. On top of that, I am involved in an assortment of film and television projects, so there is a balance to my work. And I am very excited about a boy named Jack, though he may not be an adolescent when you first meet him!

And of course I plan on being very active with new federal legislation that I anticiapte we will be announcing in the near future. So, as you can imagine, I am busy.

19. We asked for and you were kind enough to send us a photograph of things to come. The picture is of you standing on a manhole cover in the middle of Wall Street. Can you explain the importance of this picture?
All I can tell you is that I am very excited about Jack and going 'Up'!

20. Is there a historical figure that you admire and would one day consider writing about?
Our nation's Founding Father President George Washington has been on my mind for some time. There is a unique story and approach I want to write about of this great man. I am confident that one day I will. As I spoke about before, you have to make sure your research in completely accurate.

Book Reviews of Cloning Christ by Peter Senese

An Inspiring work
By Harriet Klausner

Syracuse, New York research geneticist Dr. Max Train deeply believed in God until, a dozen years ago, someone brutally murdered his beloved wife and four-year-old daughter. For Max, their deaths and his legal tribulations afterward left him void of any belief in an All Mighty.

While Max is visiting the Jerusalem area, an earthquake hits uncovering a buried cross. Max wonders if he holds the True Cross that Jesus was crucified on. If the answer is yes, could he clone the Christ from the bloodstains and hair remnants on it causing the Second Coming? In the Vatican Cardinal Anselm Mugant learns of the discovery in Israel. He plans to prevent Max from cloning the Christ by hiring an assassin The Scorpion to kill Max.

Though there are several subplots such as the "Fifth Crusade" that spins the reader away from this delightful inspirational tale, fans will relish this thriller. The tale is loaded with action yet uses the characters as symbols of mankind similar to a medieval passion play like Everyman. The cast represents the faithful, the disbelievers, the dividers (torn between science and religion) or the selfish. CLONING CHRIST brings the debate of religion vs. science to the forefront in an exciting manner that focuses on the sacredness of life.

Thoughtful, Artful, and Valuably Innovative
K. Santon

The modern day or current fiction body requires a process of active fact-gathering - not just working from memory or sensory observation, but to cultivate the root of past historical context so as to give credible life to a storytelller's work of art. In order for a modern-day fiction story to have viable credability a critical criterion necessary is currency - that a writer get on the story's subject matter in a timely manner so that the intended message of the story will have an opportunity to reach an audience to whom the writer directs his or her words to. In 'Cloning Christ', Peter Senese thrust the reader into a spell-binding, mind obsorbing story of currency as the issues of genetic 'human cloning' drive the criterion of currency, while displaying a unique ability of taken a 2,000 year old occurance - the crucifixition of Jesus, and re-creating Jesus' possible birth through the tormented struggles 'Cloning Christ's' main character, Dr. Max Train, must endure as innovative life is given to wooden boards 2,000 years old. The possible rebirth of Jesus, for many Christ, is innovatively created through the author's artful storytelling that essentially hands the possible True Cross of Jesus to the reader, and then says here's the Cross, what do you want to do with it? Unfortunately, the reader, and for this matter, Dr. Train, never have too long to think about what to do with this ancient discovery since one dark ambush after another seems to be waiting for 'The Cross-Bearer'. The thoughtfully juxtaposed ideals of good vs. evil are carefully carried out in the continued confrontation Dr. Train faces as he carries this Cross out of Jerusalem, and into a chaotic world of unknowns waiting for him at every turn.

Senese's story of 'Cloning Christ' is most innovative in that this is not, in my openion, a story that can easily fall in the catagory of 'Christian Fiction' even though there is complete overtures towards Christianity. 'Cloning Christ' is not apocolyptic - there is no Armageddon presented similiar to other well accepted fiction (science) works, unless the reader looks deeply into some of the more thoughtful questions possed in Senese's handling of Jesus' Cross, which he happily hands to you and artfully says 'what do you do next - and, who do you really think it is - Jesus or Christ - that you're holding in your hand? The believeability that a person may one day discover the True Cross of Jesus has credability, regardless of what certain scholars and doctrines claim of Helen's discovery seventeen hundred years ago. And it is the believable criterion of 'currency' that does in fact bring to life the individual readers own Armageddon! Artfully, Thoughtfully, and Valuably Innovatively, Senese hands the reader the past, the present, and the future, and challanges you to look within at your own life and values, though never giving you too much time to stand still because there exists two uniquely created dark forces: the self-rightous man, Anselm Cardinal Mugant, and the prelates Master, an assassin known to one as Sergio, and to a select few as The Scorpion, who are after 'The Cross-Bearer'. Innovatively, the partnership between the prelate and his confessor are filled with many twisted plots and subplots that enthrill the reader, while allowing the author an opportunity to subtlely provide insight on the behaviors of narcissim and self-rightousness.

Innovatively painting a brilliant portrait of landscape and setting, Senese and Geis, create a series of atmospheres which provide 'Cloning Christ' with a living, breathing backdrop. Thus, with 'In Cold Blood' Truman Capote was taking off form the innovations of John Hersey's Hiroshima, the first serious work to attempt a novelistic factual narrative on a large scale. And thus, Tom Wolfe would add his won wrinkle to this strain in 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test' by eschewing Capote's uninflected and rather stiff narrative voice for a wigged-out hop patois that mirrored his characters' sensibiltiy, Senese in 'Cloning Christ' presents real scenarios to very real possible events with the kind of suspense and emotion one expects from the best realistic fiction. And by handing 'Cloning Christ's' protagonist, Dr. Max Train and the reader the possible True Cross, Senese goes deep into his subjects' consciousness, emerging with intimacy and empathy that causes the reader to have a reality check of their own.

Overall, 'Cloning Christ' is an outstanding novel. There is a style fo substance that shows the authors were very thoughtful and purposeful in their presentation of factual material, and artful in their interpretation of realistic 'what if's?' that give life to fiction. Most of all, it is with great precision that the reader is given the possible True Cross of Jesus - a valuably innovative concept that causes hairs to rise on your skin, your heart to race, and while sleeping at night, to wake up and attempt to understand what Jesus did for Man on that cross many like myself believe to be The True Cross. This is creative ficiton at its best.

An Extraordinary Novel With Compelling Meaning

Jerry Merrian

Once in a while authors get a tale just right-- this novel is one such example. In a perfect harmony of a sci-fi thriller and religious passion the writers have gotten the reader into a fast paced novel that brings them face to face with a well-conceived and well-thought out predicament: a genetic scientist finds the Cross of Christ. Will he clone the remnants on that Cross? Step by step, carefully and with rigor, the authors take the story from Mount Olivet, where scientist Max Train is confronted with a possible discovery of Jeus that set him off from all others. Is he in the presence of God incarnate's remains?

Assassins commissioned by a clerical power in the Vatican have been watching Train for a while, as well as other geneticists, in preparation to do away with them all in the name of religion and faith-- but their faith is not the faith of the religion of Christ, or any religion. The novel is now joined from Jerusalem on the Joppa Road to Tel Aviv, on a plane to Rome, where Train is shot at, and where he himself turns into a savage to ward off those he cannot understand or fathom. On to Bologna, Lake Como, Zurich as the Vatican's blackmailing prelate Cardinal Mugant issues orders of his compromised followers to kill the fleeing Train before he "commits a sin against Christ again". Paris, Edinburgh-- a brutal encounter for Train and his Mossad aid Sarah, a woman instructed to help Train avoid the treacheries of Mugant's long extending talons--, and then off to New York whither Train escapes by a hair as it seems almost all the world is after Max Train. The media spread lies,the police of different cities have their orders, and now in New York traps are set all through Manhattan-- but Train eludes Mugant's most unbelievable hire, The Scorpion, as the woman Mossad aid is tortured in Colombia. So much more happens in the book, but you get the point: we have a brilliant blend of action and reaction, plan and counterpoise, message and ignore-- all within the pages of this distinctively laid out novel of suspense and turmoil. I re-iterate what I wrote before: authors once in while get a tale just right, and Peter Thomas Senese fits that description here. Now a movie should be made to bring to the screen one of the rare achievements of learning and action conjoined in a novel that only comes around when talent gives rise to true artistic accomplishment. Cloning Christ is one such novel.

A Fresh Approach to A Well Talked Out, Written Subject

By Anthony B.

First off, I want to say there are to many Apocolyptic books out there! What in the world is going on, are The Horsemen Coming, or what? It seems as if everyone is talking about cloning Jesus these days! Now lets get real for a minute, and I say this with no intent to offend those religious folks who actually believe Armageddon will occur upon the sun's next rising! Maybe its the upcoming war, maybe its the cloning buzz, and maybe there are just too many liberties being taken in the publishing business. You go figure this out for yourself, I'm tired of it. Fortunatly, or unfortunatly, I work in a book store, so I get to see the best as well as the 'what were they thinking' in books. Here's my scoop on this book: I kept noticing the cover jacket from the counter, designed with its dna cross, and decided to take a look. Interesting. Yes, once again the cloning Jesus theme is brought out, like other stories, but, to my surprise, this book actually has no intent of diving into the drawn out issues of cloning Jesus. The story, to my applause, takes the reader into the main character's own personal struggles as well as the dark struggles of the protagonist and the villan (who, I will say, were enjoyable to follow). The story is a strong thriller with some unexpected twists that were not predictable, which kept me interested in continuing on. And so I did. Strong points of Cloning Christ: the reader becomes one with the books plot and settings, and, there is a non-preachy education the authors share with their audience. Negatives: I wish we had more insight into the villan known as The Scorpion, and I think the writers could have increased the tension in the epilogue a bit. Overall, I enjoyed this book and will recommend it to readers who like clever thrillers. I can understand why this book is catagorized under Inspirational Fiction, however, I think this book should be considered a thriller, for that's what it really is.

A truly Contemporary Thriller

By Gail Ponder

What I liked most about Cloning Christ is how real world it is: it addresses a phenomenon-- scientific cloning-- in a way making it a reality the reader must confront. How? In the most ingenious way possible-- by taking Jesus Christ's bodily remnant from his Cross and saying to the reader, What happens if Christ's body is cloned? Is it God? Is it a substitute Christ? And what do you do with this new found reality, the cloned remnants of God the Son?

Cloning Christ brings the reader across many leaps of faith as its hero, Max Train, flees unknown assassins from Jerusalem all the way to New York. The Vatican looms as a cursing shadow in Train's struggle to understand his find of Christ's Cross. Within the eternal city prowls a Cardinal, Anselm Mugant, who has arrogated unto himself the role of God's vengance on geneticists who dare to play "Creator" of man. Powerful players in finance and media, gun running, and environmental ownership are this Cardinal's pawns as the Israeli Mossad comes forth in ways clever and subtle to beat back the would be killers of Max Train.

There is a great human dimension in the book that the two authors adroitly develop: the heartache, doubt, despair, fear, and final resurrection of Max Train's spirit; the plodding hatred and self-righteousness of a pathological prelate; the calm and deliberate behavior of a Pope and a Jewish Rabbi; the simply remorseless behavior of a hired killer who was once a penitent at the confessional of Anselm Mugant. In the character of this killer, The Scorpion. one sees Nietszche revelling in the oily turmoil of words he alone could bring about.

Cloning Christ is a contemporary thriller then, in its making clear what cloning is for humanity, what it could be for a God, and what it actually became for the novel's hero-- Max Train. His only desire in life was finally never to have lost the family so cruelly siezed from him, but which he finally found replaced in full when he made his peace with the Cross and saw his life transformed by a magical woman who actually showed him that God had never stopped loving him.

I cannot recommend the book strongly enough.

Universal Truths

By Mitchell Blessitt

We like stories because they tell us about our world and enable us to learn from the experiences of others, an imaginative capacity that is one of the principal endowments of man. Cloning Christ by Peter Senese disseminates and explains the cultural traditions of religious beliefs that shape our lives by creating an praise-worthy historical thriller evolving around the Cross of Christ. In creating Cloning Christ, the main support characters of this Cross, Dr. Max Train and his guide, the Mossad agent, Sara, the author develops a story that counsels on existential dilemmas of the spirit and soul so to admonish us and point us in new directions, to give us courage to stay a given course, provides us a sense of universal kinsmen, kinswomenship - offers us other eyes through which we might see, other ears which we might hear. It is true that stories attract us by resonating with our anxieties; they allay our anxieties by conveying information or conferring wisdom. By essentially handing to the reader the Cross of Christ, Senese effectively causes great anxiety to the new Cross-bearer while provoking this reader to confront, indirectly at first, and then directly as the story unfolds, the essence of one's faith.

If we rely on stories to guide us through life, we want the guide to be reliable and truthful, and to tell it like it really is or could be; however, we also want the guide to be artful and witty, and to lead us along paths with which we are familiar. Cloning Christ is an inescapable contradiction in terms; a nonfiction fiction; a factual fantasy; a truthful deception; a non-beleiver beleiving.

Cloning Christ is a fascinating, cleverly written geo-theological thriller in a class by itself.

This was good.

By Biker Bob

Okay kids, here's my thoughts: First off, the characters in this book are thought out - each somehow making you think about different issues we all face in today's mixed-up world. The lead guy, Max Train, is a normal guy that really got pissed-on: he losses his wife and daughter to a brutal murder, then gets tried about their killings. If this happened to me, I, like Max sure would have some choice words with the Big Man upstairs. As you can imagine, Max doesn't believe in a thing. Then something crazy happens to him - he finds a cross that may be Jesus cross. To make things worse, this cross appears to have blood on it. Now kids, in christian faith, didn't Jesus, if he was Christ, leave this place? That is a question Max is confronted with. So here is a guy that looses his faith, wants to get back to believing, then suddenly is confronted with wondering if God exists.

To lead matters from the gray to the black, there is a cardinal, who in my openion, is one of the cleverist characters I have every read, that wants this guy Max dead before he lets on to the world that a cross that may be the one Jesus was linched on was found. Yep! The blood and hair follicles get Cardinal Mugant's blood boiling. Caught in what he thinks is his responsabilty to protect the Church, this guy does anything humanly possible to find Max - including making a deal with an assasin who is seeking redemtion and salvation . . . so the Cardinal thinks.

Unfortunately, Mugant has no idea who he REALLY made a deal with. Do I hear some piercing violins? I sure do! Adding to the mix are some fascinating characters, known as the Fifth Crusade. Five cats with great wealth coming from the misdeeds of Nazi Germany that were protected by the Church (this stuff I know to be true, so the authors did some serious homework), are all held hostage, so to speak, by Mugant. If they don't follow his commands, their little secret of how they pandered monies would be shared with the world.

In essence, their lives belong to him. There's this woman Adrianna who is the only surviving child of an arms dealer that can't have a kid. Yet she is torn between participating in the Cardinal's manhunt for a genetisct who may one day assist in medical science that may allow a flower to grow inside her, and killing him. There's this media mogul from Italy who is trying to also protect his empire, but believes in the message of the good Pope - who Mugant can't stand and expects to where the great big hat once the Pope dies.

There's a CIA bigshot with more secrets than there are secrets also manipulated by this crazy cat. You get the point: there are some good layers here. Personally, my favorite cat outside the Cardinal is a Jewish rabbi that helps out Max, not to mention Sara, the 'guide' who eventually follows and protects him as the story drives you to keep reading. The cool thing is that Max, while on this crazy journey, somehow finds his soul, and makes friends again with the Big Man upstairs. Overall kids, this is a good story.

Book Reviews of Peter Thomas Senese's 'The Den of the Assassin'

By Shelley Gammon

Nail-biting Drama and Intrigue

This timely novel brings most of today's headlines into an action-packed drama of intertwining plots involving North Korea's Kim Jung-Il, biological warfare, Muslim terrorists, mercenaries, members of Russia's underbelly, Pakistani nuclear scientists and the brokers & money-movers of Wall Street together a web of why's, how's & whodunits.

Some of the enemies of America's economy and way of life don't fit the usual suspects and they easily slip under the radar of both average citizens and our Department Homeland Security. The linchpin to this international plot is Tyler Boxter, a Wall Street broker who is one of the few good guys who sees beyond the almighty dollar, but who also knows how to turn millions into billions. As he and his partner, former Federal Judge John Morgan, form the building blocks of a multi-billion-dollar empire, they believe they have crossed all "t"s and dotted all "i"s by keeping their plans as close to the vest as possible before the official unveiling. Even their trusted friends, members of the firm they built from the ground-up, have not been included in this scheme which is intended to not only make them all filthy rich, but to also make life better for the common man.

Unknown to them, secret eyes are watching them in the wings, waiting to kill them. Are they just hired mercenaries from some company pushing industrial espionage to the next level, or do these cut-throat terrorists have more sinister plans in which Boxter and Morgan are just stepping stones?

The story takes the reader across the world, literally, as each character travels from one square to another on the global chess board, stitching together a plan to take over the economies of the planet itself, destroying America along the way.

Author Peter Thomas Senese weaves together complex, but believable characters - described both physically and emotionally so you really care what is happening to them. Despite the fact that everything from prostitution to beheadings is touched on, Thomas manages to tell his story without foul language, without grotesque details that give you nightmares and without detailed sex scenes that make you want to bathe after reading. How refreshing!

Just when you think you've figured what is going to happen next, the story twists and turns just like real life - and you don't know what's happening until it's over. Antagonists are hate-worthy and protagonists are not perfect, but heroic nonetheless. Thomas is a gifted writer and can write certain scenes in such a way that you feel like you are in the room with these characters.

My less than perfect rating is for a number of reasons, but I think they all stem from one main problem - this book needed a professional editor to chisel off the rough edges. Some of the economic, trade and health care concepts were way too detailed and over-explained, and made the story less than enjoyable. The concepts are explained, re-explained and then explained again in dialogue that sounds like an infomercial. An editor would have been instrumental in snipping these over-the-top explanations, as well as eliminating the typos. Each chapter has a scene change - citing a date and a time. Some of the time differences are really irrelevant or at least were lost on this reader. Most of these time notations would have been better as "later that evening" or "earlier that morning..." in my opinion. And finally, the over-use of $50-words - words that no one with even an above-average IQ would use in a normal conversation. I had to consult a dictionary so many times, I simply stopped looking the words up because it stopped the natural flow of reading. I love an intelligently-written book such as "Den of the Assassin," but it felt as though the words were thrown in because they were the most intelligent-sounding words found in a thesaurus.

Despite these shortcomings, the book is well-worth the read and enduring the technical jargon regarding the financial markets. Once the story gets going, it is a page-turner. Love, hate, anger, joy, jealousy, loyalty, celebration and grief - the novel takes you through about every emotion and experience you can imagine in a brief 400+ pages and does an excellent job at it. The end of the book sets the reader up for expectations of a second novel. Just like life, things are not tied up in a neat little bow all the time. For his first novel, Thomas truly shines, I am already looking forward to reading his next book. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
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By Daniel Jolley

A Thoroughly Engaging, Unpredictable Suspense Thriller

This is one seriously good thriller. Billed as "a novel of international finance and espionage," Den of the Assassin is a super-realistic exploration of frightening possibilities, unsurpassed heroism, Lucifer-like evil, and terrorism of the worst kind. When you look at the cover, which features a shot of the American Stock Exchange captured in the sights of a rifle, you might think this the novel revolves around some kind of Day of the Jackal-like assassination plot, but the complexity of this novel stretches its tendrils deeply into international finance, the vagaries of the American legal and health care systems, international terrorism, diplomacy, intelligence, WMD, and cold-blooded murder - with a little romance thrown in just to stir up the pot a little more. Peter Thomas does a masterful job traversing the inner hallways of diverse institutions as he slowly brings all of these diverse elements together for a slam-bang climax.

The novel is steeped in the new realities of our post-9/11 world, which gives the whole story a visceral prescience teeming with realism and frightful possibility. The focus also provides a warning of sorts, as the greatest danger to America may lie where it is least suspected. The potential dangers inherent in the secret black-market underworld (and the rogues' hall of evil men it does business with) of a still-troubled Russia become a clear and present danger as Den of the Assassin works its way toward its highly suspenseful conclusion.

Tyler Boxter is a young, well-respected investment banker working in the heart of Wall Street. He and his partner, retired judge John Morgan, are days away from finally realizing a dream borne of years of hard and highly secretive work. If eight Special Letter Ruling applications (SLRs) they have submitted amongst several federal agencies are approved, the two partners will thoroughly shake up the financial, insurance, and medical world by revolutionizing (and perhaps even fixing) the health care industry - they will also, in the process, earn almost unimaginable profits for themselves and the company. Tyler has basically staked his wealth and reputation on this plan, and it is a truly risky proposition - if a single one of the SLRs is rejected, the whole plan falls apart. The greatest danger, however, is that someone outside of Tyler's tight circle will find out what is going on and begin putting up legal roadblocks to keep it from happening. Many people stand to lose vast sums in the wake of this revolutionary change, and they will do just about anything to stop the deal dead in its tracks. Tyler knew that going in, but he could never have realized the true dangers he would soon be facing.

Tyler's greatest fear is realized when copies of the SLRs are stolen by unknown thieves. Thinking a competitor is out there trying to circumvent the deal, Tyler and Morgan bring in Judge Ronnie Pitt, a brilliant but disparaged 83-year-old lawyer and Morgan's mentor, and rush to move their timetable up so that they can move as soon as the applications come through (they hope). As things develop, it becomes increasingly clear that Tyler and Morgan have a much bigger problem on their hands than they initially thought, though. For reasons they can't comprehend, their ordeal seems to be linked to an international terrorist operation. Fears of financial failure soon turn to fears for their very lives and those of their friends and loved ones. What makes this terrorist threat so insidious and dangerous is the fact that it does not come from the likely suspects (e.g., al-Qaeda). The real enemy here consists of a criminal, Mafia-type organization of old guard Russian hard-liners led by an untraceable mad genius with designs on destroying America and using her pilfered resources to make Russia the dominant player in the world. The Father, as this mysterious entity is called, needs money - and lots of it - and he will stop at absolutely nothing to get what he wants - including the unleashing of an all-too real "mythical" superplague secretly developed in Russia's biological weapons labs.

Thomas displays a wealth of knowledge of geopolitics, espionage, and international finance, describing all the technical intricacies of the story's elements and implications with great attention to detail -without ever letting the pace get bogged down or become confusing to the reader. He also keeps a number of secrets close to the vest, saving them for just the right time in the story. This serves to make the book thoroughly believable and increasingly suspenseful. There's no shortage of action here. What Tyler finds himself involved in is nothing less than a war, and he must fight to save not only himself, his friends, and his company, but his very country from an unimaginable catastrophe. The Father's network of agents and killers is as formidable as they come, and the security-related forces Tyler brings into the game are some of the best money can buy. In the end, though, the drama becomes deeply personal, as The Father and Tyler Boxter rush headlong toward a face-to-face encounter of epic proportions.

Many a writer of thrillers seem to drop the ball somewhere in the middle of their novels, but Thomas' knowledge of geopolitics, international finance, and 21st century terrorist threats keeps the fires of detailed complexity and story evolution stoked and red-hot for the entire ride. Tyler Boxter is no James Bond, but Den of the Assassin proves to be just as exciting as any 007 caper - and much more realistic. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
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By Mark DeLap "Mark"

Blood Gets Us To Heaven... Wisdom Keeps Us Sane In Life's Journey

If you had a chance to view your own funeral... and at that sacred journey's end, you were permitted view the impact you had upon this world, what would you hope to answer? This book has been reviewed as a spy novel, a modern day Wall Steet thriller, a mystery text with a warning for the aching to return to the cold war, a book about Holy Wars, Gihad, and a novel about the ever present threat of bio-terrorism to erase in moments what God created in seven days.

This book by Peter Thomas, which is a pseudonym for Peter Senese, comes on the heels of his novel, Cloning Christ. As that novel portrayed a picture of a sovereign God and a modern day Job - this novel continues that story line and leaves a living legacy to those of us who yearn to live... LIVE in a ravished world with that self same sovereign God.

Oh... don't misunderstand... All of the reviews you read are correct in that they depict the events of the book with great accuracy and passion. In fact, I don't know of another novel that covers as much of the world's gangrenous canker in a little more than an 8 day scenario.

But if all you see when you read this book is the accuracy of, as Peter says... "America in perilous waters...merely the calm before the storm", then certainly you have missed the passion of this author's heart as he leaves behind years of wisdom and truths as a "gospel" to those who need to survive in this world that we live in.

Peter Senese lost his faith and found God in New York in September of 2001. What he leaves us in this book are accurate world facts that point to continued terrorism... and he also leaves us a trail of breadcrumbs that will take us past the "ground zeros" of our life to the door where the bread of life can be found.

The author calls his New York haven... "Manhattan's grandest house of God" - but if you look at the back cover of his book, you will see that this grandest house pales in comparison to the skyscrapers of this financial hub. Nevertheless... the twin towers are gone... Trinity stands... through the revolutionary war... through the civil war... through world wars... and through the war on terrorism... She still stands.

Want to know how to stand after you've done all to stand? Then I implore you to read this book for the passion and the message that is standing small but mighty amongst this world's systems and monuments.

Want to know how to impact your world after it's all said and done? Read this love letter that Peter Thomas Senese wrote to his son.... and if you can't see a love letter within it's pages... then take the few steps from ground zero to Trinity and know that most certainly there is a road less traveled - where miracles still happen.

"Fate does not fall on man however they act, but falls on man unless they act." just one breadcrumb... it tastes so good, you can't eat just one...

Thank you Peter!!! From a father who needs to leave something of worth behind for my own son... thank you. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
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By Elizabeth McGregor

Extremely Well Crafted, Thoughtful, and Hightly Entertaining

'The Den of the Assassin' is one of the most provocative books I have read in years. It is clear and evident that the Russian Black-Market is alive and well, and, it has found its way to the world of capitalism. Author Peter Thomas Senese does an outstanding job of using historical facts to web a unique modern day story that appears to be in every present headline dealing with the world of terrorism and threats to the free world. But there is something really special here above the foresight and intelligently written modern day thriller: Peter Thomas Senese's story is accessable to all readers, as there is a cleverly, though fast paced love story that evolves nicely and importantly through the whirlwind action that takes the reader aroud the globe in as a deadly game is played between Tyler Boxter, the story's protagonist, and Vladamir Stockow, the madman who controls an arsenal of biological weapons rooted from the former Soviet Union's Bioprepreate.

Make no mistake, there is a great deal of fascinating information presented by Thomas in 'The Den of the Assassin'. It is significant, but not overwhelming, and easily understandable. What is amazing is how the author hits his mark on all points: character development keeps you rolling, a plot line that doesn't stop, and too, is fascinating, the use of settings as characters themselves was done wonderfully, especially in New York City, and most of all, the presentation of the common journey all individuals face in finding their way, the way Tyler Boxter needed to, was flawless

I honestly can't say enough wonderful things about this book. Two days from start to finish, Thomas has a lot to say . . . and if you haven't noticed, Iran is building nuclear facilities based upon information obtained from the former Soviet Union and the current Black Market that still exists after it's fall. My only question is how in the world did the author know so much? If you love LeCarre, Clancy, Turow, Patterson, or the deceased Ludlum's work, you will be amazed with Peter Thomas Senese's novel 'The Den of the Assassin'.

By Barry Roth

The Most Realistic International Thriller I Have Ever Read

In 'The Den of the Assassin' author Peter Thomas Senese has written what I beleive to be the most realistic international thriller I have ever read. The story is a riveting expose of current and very real terrorist threats to the Free World, and how these threats use democracy's capitalistic structure to finance and develop there networks. But the electric pulse that captures the reader is not reduced by Thomas' use of . . . amazingly true but little mentioned and news covered facts . . . such as the fact that a handful of biochemist working on an Ebola-oriented vaccine were murdered . . . or the fact that the CIA did in fact create an extraordinary world-wide, multi-language computer monitoring system capable of monitoring all money movement worldwide . . . including and not limited to the unimaginable events of 911 and how the US government knew of large discrepancies in the various trading of entities that would be beneficial to individuals making a hedge to profit from the misdeeds.

From New York, to Narau, to Moscow, to North Korea, to Iraq, to places unknown, the reader enters onto an amazingly colorful journey of nations and intents; however, Thomas' masterful handling of the story's protagonist: The Father Stockow is so brilliant that he is everywhere, and always, somehow on Wall Street - where the unsuspecting banker Tyler Boxter is essentially a deer looking into the headlights.

Boxter's evolution is brilliant: as Thomas transforms the lost lamb into a predatorial shark . . . hunting for the one person who can destroy the world. In a page-turning writing style that hits you over the head with critically important fact after fact at a level that you actually want more information and facts, Senese's character development of all his characters is defining.

Which leads me to say this: Den of the Assassin is a brilliant novel worthy of the highest praise possible. That said, I want to add that there is great meaning in this story, something bouyed by the love story that prevails with Julia Marcardo and Tyler Boxter. As for Boxter, and the movement that is set in this story by the main character I want to list some words that come to mind: redemption, hope, faith, determination, addiction, love, fear, surrender, love.

Great job.

By Dave Rumereo

One To Relish On

Let me begin by stating that my review is based specifically on the story and not issues of the art of editing, for which I am not an expert in. I am, however, a lover of books, especially well thought out fiction, and in DEN OF THE ASSASSIN, Peter Thomas Senese has written one of the best modern-day thrillers I have read.

In DEN OF THE ASSASSIN I found myself reading one of the most intricately structured and detailed plot lines I have ever read, brilliantly executed that my eyes kept racing from page to page. Starting in Russia, Thomas soon brings you to New York City, where the action of this thriller is laid out perfectly: on Wall Street. And this is where Thomas shines most - clearly he knows the pulse of this place in the physical and metaphysical sense, bringing the reader into the frenetic canyons of capitalism, and the world of finance's connectivity to the worlds of terrorism. In the thematic of Wall Street's connection to the concerns of global terrorism, Thomas' point is current, informative, sensitive to detail, and interesting.

Evolving around the thematic of global terrorism we are introduced to Tyler Boxter, a somewhat typical Wall Streeter with an interesting, but not overwhelming past. He's a guy with issues, but who's not with them? As a provocative game of death is being laid out, we are introduced to an array of characters, some deliberately fanciful, others meticulously sterile. All with purpose, the characters in this story drive the action around the world, and to the finality of a very clever, unexpected ending.

If you are a fan of thrillers, I think readers will really find this book to be a great read. Personally, I am a fan of James Patterson, Patricia Cornwall, Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci, Jon Kellerman, Michael Connelly, and of course, Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. In DEN OF THE ASSASSIN I believe we have found a writer who, if showing consistency, may have the ability of joining these wonderfully gifted writers as mainstream writers of note.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Reviews of Peter Thomas Senese's 'Chasing The Cyclone'

'Chasing The Cyclone' Review by: Mr. Grady Harp. 

Peter Thomas Senese now opens the windows on the magnitude of these tragedies in his excellent CHASING THE CYCLONE ... As if the fast paced energy of this story weren’t enough to satisfy the reader, Peter Thomas Senese demonstrates his quality as a writer of distinction on many levels.... this impossible to put down book....

A Thriller and a Call to Arms

The unspeakable horror of child abduction in every form that this deplorable crime exists is rarely touched upon by the media. Granted there have been some books and some important films about the subject, but this fine book by Peter Thomas Senese now opens the windows on the magnitude of these tragedies in his excellent CHASING THE CYCLONE – a book which is ‘inspired by a true story’ and the proximity of the novel to the writer appears to come from the heart as well as the skill demonstrated by his craftsmanship as a storyteller.

What makes this story so unique is the aspect that the child abduction sequence in this novel is by one of the two parents of a seven-year-old boy named Alex. The story opens in medias res with the narrator Paul Francesco (the father of Alex) in a compassionate scene with one of his friends who is undergoing therapy for cancer. Gradually Thomas unfolds the background of Paul’s plight to recover his beloved son from the restrictions imposed upon his visitation rights by the child’s mother D. And here unfolds yet another aspect of the complexity of this thriller: Paul met D while undergoing treatment for neurofibromatosis and D’s ‘attention’ to him created a too brief association that resulted in a hasty marriage and the birth of Alex soon after. After his ‘recovery’ Paul’s faux marriage collapses and D takes her infant Alex from Paul’s presence, demanding payments from Paul’s ample finances not only for child support but also for multiple questionably valid reasons. Paul discovers that D has abducted Alex to Canada and here begins a drama of Paul’s focused and committed attempts to regain his son, a journey that takes him to such places as New Zealand and other points of terror along the way, struggling with emotional, financial and physical attempts to thwart his success in regaining the son he loves so dearly.

As if the fast paced energy of this story weren’t enough to satisfy the reader, Peter Thomas Senese demonstrates his quality as a writer of distinction on many levels. For example, the court proceedings at the beginning of the book –a launching pad for the remainder of the story – are related in as tense and realistic way as any author has written, and all this by telephone between California and Canada! But in addition to his narrative, Thomas pauses here and there for sharing some bits of philosophy that bears special attention. In a section about how we all have allowed reading books to be drowned by the other available sources of information Thomas writes: ‘In essence, we surf or skim for data. This behavior has changed the way our society thinks. Fundamental to this change is the inability or lack of desire for a person to spike for details. The ‘why’ and ‘how’ – the reasoning behind the information is typically barely glimpsed over. Unfortunately, our imaginations are nurtured and prodded when we understand the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’. And nothing provides us with a depth of understanding more than reading and books. But so long as society views reading and books as a third class activity, we will continue to lose our competitive global economic advantage by not grasping reasoning, which is the core of our imagination. Ingenuity will further become a word associated with countries like India and China.’

Perhaps this aside was not intended by the author to set the tone of his book as much as it does, but after reading this impossible to put down book, readers will likely return to these moments of intelligence Peter Thomas Senese shares. Another aspect of CHASING THE CYCLONE is a glossary of information about the crime of international child abduction, complete with immediate resources should the reader or friends of the reader need further guidance through the tragedy depicted in this fine novel. A very satisfying novel as a thriller story, and an even more important sounding of the alarm about a crime we understand so vaguely. 

'Chasing The Cyclone' Review by: Mr. Daniel Jolley.

... Chasing the Cyclone isn’t just a powerful novel; it’s a call to arms against a growing epidemic that is tearing lives apart behind the headlines . . .. Chasing the Cyclone is much more than just a superb, can’t-put-down novel, though; it is a book with a purpose . . .. Thomas has become an outspoken advocate on this issue, and Chasing the Cyclone makes for a clear and profoundly effective call to action. I would go so far as to encourage every loving parent to read this book, as the bond between this father and son is one to be emulated . . .

A father's love knows no bounds -- or international boundaries.
I almost feel guilty for enjoying Chasing the Cyclone so much because it is borne of the author’s own painful struggle to find and rescue his own son after he was abducted and hidden away in a foreign country. The abductor? The child’s mother. This book was certainly an eye-opener for me, as I never realized the true nature and scope of international parental child abduction. We all know that children can sometimes be used as pawns between one or both parents, but it’s unthinkable – even for an eternal pessimist like me – that a parent would risk the health and welfare of his/her own child for no other reason than to inflict pain and suffering on the other parent. What makes such a tragedy even worse is the fact that international law – or the lack thereof – ties the hands of the American government to help locate and rescue parental child abductees once they are taken out of the country, and foreign courts obviously cannot be depended upon to do the right thing. Chasing the Cyclone isn’t just a powerful novel; it’s a call to arms against a growing epidemic that is tearing lives apart behind the headlines.

Despite limited visitation and a consistent effort by his ex-wife (referred to only as D in the novel) to form a wedge between him and his son, Paul Franceso is a loving father. He makes sure that seven-year-old Alex knows how much he loves him, and he pays his vindictive ex-wife far more money than the courts require for child support just to make sure that Alex has everything he needs in life. Even when D violates court orders and denies him access to his son in any number of ways, he chooses not to pursue legal recourse for fear that it would upset his son. Everything changes, though, when he suddenly receives word that a Canadian court has given his wife full custody of Alex after he failed to show up for a court appearance he was never told about. Thus begins the greatest trial of his life. As he puts his legal team to work in order to right this legal wrong, he is shocked to learn that D is planning to move his son to New Zealand to live with a man he knows nothing about. In dismay, he watches Canadian justices ignore their own laws to allow what he knows to be the international flight of his ex-wife with his son to the other side of the world.

Now fighting an international legal battle on both sides of the globe, Paul is dismayed to learn that the American government is almost powerless to help him in his plight, despite the fact that he has managed to get a Canadian court to give him full custody of Alex. Realizing by this time just how well his ex-wife has planned every step along the way of his son’s abduction, he is forced to deal with a truly nightmarish scenario – the smuggling of his missing son from New Zealand into a South Asian country that has not ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction treaty. Such a move would not only strip him of any real legal recourse for getting his son back, it could also place Alex’s life and liberty in extreme jeopardy.

All things considered, Paul is more fortunate than the vast majority of Chasing Parents, for he has the financial resources to pursue his abducted son all the way across the world – and a network of true friends willing and able to support and assist him each step of the way. The lack of any financial support from the American government in international child abduction cases makes it all but impossible for those Chasing Parents lacking the means to finance the search effort themselves to ever succeed in finding and being reunited with their abducted child. Because of the political complexities of international law, the Chasing Parent often has to go it alone, and this is but one of many huge monetary and legal obstacles such a parent faces. The traumatic roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows is obvious, and you experience these right alongside Paul every step of the way thanks to Thomas’ rich and immersive writing style.

Chasing the Cyclone is much more than just a superb, can’t-put-down novel, though; it is a book with a purpose. It was primarily written to draw attention to the importance of the growing problem of international parental child abduction, to expose problems in "the system" that need to be addressed by the American government as well as the international community of nations, and to help those who might also suddenly find themselves in the wholly unexpected position of Chasing Parent. Thomas includes a lot of supplemental factual information at the end of the novel, including contact information for agencies and organizations that can help, his own summation of the systemic and legal changes that need to take place to combat this growing problem, and advice for all parents sharing joint custody of a child – including a list of warning signs indicative of a potential abduction by the other parent. Thomas has become an outspoken advocate on this issue, and Chasing the Cyclone makes for a clear and profoundly effective call to action. I would go so far as to encourage every loving parent to read this book, as the bond between this father and son is one to be emulated. 

'Chasing The Cyclone' Review by: Harriet Klausner

. . . Inspired by a true story that will shake the audience further, this is an exciting cautionary thriller that grips readers from the onset . . . 

An eye opening chilling thriller based on fact. 

Paul Francesco has been successful in business, well liked by friends, and adored by his family. However, several years ago when Paul suffered from neurofibromatosis, he met D. Her nurturing led to a short marriage and Alex. After the divorce, D and Alex moved to Vancouver while Paul remained in Los Angeles. 

Following a visit with a dying friend in Northern California, Paul tries to reach Alex but fails to make contact. He soon learns of a court date in British Columbia in which he failed to attend because he was unaware of it. D perjured herself to gain full custody. He begins an effort to regain access to his seven years old son only to find the Canadian court and police systems at best are indifferent. Instead of D being the criminal, they prefer to continue to label Paul as a deadbeat absentee father. He soon meets other parents suffering from international apathy after the illegal abduction of an offspring left them legally with rights, morally with rights, and parentally with rights; but realistically with no rights. Paul is a hunter hunting the predators who took his child for he will never give up until he catches the cyclone he chases internationally even as he is made further to look like the insane criminal by 
the abducting party who actually are the one's who committed an assortment of crimes against both Paul and his victimized child.

Inspired by a true story that will shake the audience further, this is an exciting cautionary thriller that grips readers from the onset with the call Paul makes to the Vancouver Registry. From there, Paul falls apart as he has a new issue to contend with, the international abduction of his child by the 
kid's mom. Overall fast-paced, there are some related advocating that somewhat slows down the incredible pace yet enhances the moral fiber of Paul's quest.

With tips to avoid such a calamity, readers will be stunned by Peter Thomas Senese' powerful condemnation of governments who ignore the global child abduction lucrative market.

'Chasing The Cyclone' Review by: Shelley Gammon

. . . Chasing the Cyclone" is the second book I've read by Peter Thomas Senese, and like "The Den of the Assassin," it's a real page turner . . . This was a book I could not put down. Thomas has a gift in writing a compelling novel that not only keeps the reader engaged, but educates as well . . .

In Pursuit of Justice

"Chasing the Cyclone" is the second book I've read by Peter Thomas Senese, and like "The Den of the Assassin," it's a real page-turner.

Paul Francesco, the story's lead character and narrator, is working on developing his own television series when he discovers that his ex-wife has filed a sole-custody motion in an attempt to take their son, Alex, far away where Francesco would have no way to see or talk to him until he turned 18.

Their marriage was brief and it wasn't long before Francesco realizes what a conniving, manipulative, gold-digging shrew he had married on impulse and divorced by necessity... but not before she emptied out one of his bank accounts and fled the country.

So begins this edge-of-your-seat tale of international child abduction. Francesco, disgusted by his ex-wife's behavior, can only stomach referring to her by her first initial, D... a woman with an innate ability to get what she wants from any man, whether it be his money or his help in depriving another man from his hard-earned money. She plays the part of the weak, sympathetic, abused, poverty-stricken hausfrau and milks it for all it's worth.
Having been successful in Wall Street, Francesco clearly has at least a cool million at his disposal, and ends up spending nearly all of it in pursuit of his son, who is only 7 years old and wise beyond his years.

An average American would not have the resources to find one child, no matter how much they loved them, in a sea of over 7 billion people. Because Francesco's ex-wife, a Canadian citizen, was in Canada when she fled Canadian soil to go to the other side of the world, the U.S. government has no jurisdiction and no way of helping him. Because of his financial resources and an unusually high number of close friends that put themselves in regular peril to help him, Francesco is not entirely helpless - no matter how helpless he often feels while chasing D and Alex around the globe.

Francesco hires private detectives in every country D. travels to, keeping 24/7 vigils on her residence and travels to ensure the safety of his son. Through every twist and turn, D and her lawyers manage to find loopholes in local and international law to keep Alex from ever seeing his father again.

Throughout the story, the reader is not only taken on the roller coaster ride with Paul Francesco, but also gets a crash course in international child abduction laws - and what countries are safe havens for would-be kidnappers and child traffickers.

Every time there seems to be a glimmer of hope, D pulls another stunt that ends up quickly depleting Francesco's resources. You can feel his panic as he is desperate to find and regain custody of his son before he is completely out of funds.

Underlying the unfolding drama is a father's love for his son and a ferocious determination to overcome any obstacle keeping them apart.

This was a book I could not put down. Thomas has a gift in writing a compelling novel that not only keeps the reader engaged, but educates as well.

The Examiner. 
Review by Barbara Thompson.

. . . I highly recommend Chasing the Cyclone as a must-read. You will not be able to put it down. It may very well change the way you look at life, child custody, and interactions with your child's other parent. I cannot endorse this book strongly enough . . .

Peter Thomas Senese never intended to become an expert on international parental abduction or an advocate for abducted children and chasing parents. Still, he has stepped up to that role in hopes of preventing other children from enduring what his son experienced and helping other parents to battle the storm that is parental abduction.

First and foremost, Chasing the Cyclone is a story about a father's love for his son, a son's unwavering faith in his father, and promises. The plot is based on the author's own experiences in dealing with international parental abduction but the prevailing theme throughout the book is the bond between father and son. A father who literally goes to the ends of the earth to protect his son and a son who never loses faith that his father will be there for him.

Peter Thomas Senese is a gifted storyteller who takes readers on a heart-pounding journey around the globe through the eyes of Paul Francesco, a father whose 7-year old son is abducted by his mother. The writing is raw and the emotions are real.

The story is filled with twists and turns that will leave readers scratching their heads, seething in anger, and hugging their children a little tighter. Hopefully it will also help readers understand the complicated issues surrounding parental abduction, the flaws in the current system, and the sanctity of the relationship between a child and both parents.

I highly recommend Chasing the Cyclone as a must-read. You will not be able to put it down. It may very well change the way you look at life, child custody, and interactions with your child's other parent. I cannot endorse this book strongly enough.

I have spoken at great length with Peter Thomas Senese recently and Chasing The Cyclone is an accurate portrayal of international parental child abduction, and the roadblocks that chasing parents encounter. The story is clearly drawn from and inspired by his and his child's experiences. Read more of my interview with Peter Thomas Senese. 

Peter is currently working with director JJ Rogers and a seasoned group of filmmakers to produce a documentary titled Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms of International Parental Child Abduction which they hope to show at several prestigious film festivals in 2010. 

Chasing the Cyclone is currently available for pre-order at and will be available in bookstores in October, 2009. For more information on international parental abduction, please visit the Chasing the Cyclone website. 

'Chasing The Cyclone' Review by: Valerie Matteson:

... Fascinating to read . . .. Highly recommended reading ...
Heart wrenching, frustrating and touching account of a terrifying event in a parent's life. 

Peter Thomas Senese uses a first-person, diary-like style to tell us the account of a father who has a very successful film and publishing career and is embarking on a new TV series to help with literacy when, not for the first time, he is unable to reach his son through his ex-wife.

Since six years before when his son was first born, Paul Francesco has spent thousands of dollars "supporting" his ex-wife and son not only in regular child support but also any time "D" asked for the monies to help with rent, new car, etc. Paul obviously loves his son very much but his ex-wife who is Canadian and lives in Vancouver has often "missed" bringing his son to the US for visits or being available for phone calls. 

Worse, Paul begins to find that D has been very underhanded in lying to the Canadian courts about Paul and making child support payments and his attitude toward his son. Anyone who has friends or has been divorced with children knows that you can never totally "divorce" the ex-spouse as you need to be in contact for the good of your children. However, Paul's ex-wife, D, has done nothing but milk Paul for money and slander and libel him with worse to come. 

Reading the story of how Paul has to hire investigators, security protection, lawyers and so on to fight court battles in Canada, US, and New Zealand plus chase after and find D, his son and D's boyfriend, is a complex and terrifying account of one father's determination to have the best for his son.

I was especially impressed that Paul does not talk bad about his ex-wife to his son. I'm not sure I could do the same. I was also awed by the support Paul received from his many friends who helped make his long search more endurable and possible.

One of the things I have learned in reviewing this book is that parental international child abduction is a very severe form of child abuse by one parent against the child. In many, too many cases, the child, the Chasing Parent, or members of the team trying to reunite with he child are murdered. 

Fascinating to read particularly knowing the novel is based on the author's own experiences. 

Highly recommended reading. 

Review by: Stewart Meisner 
Child Advocate

... Chasing The Cyclone is a wonderfully written story combining all the elements of great storytelling: a compelling plot, unique characters, excellence in the use of language, and a highly educated and easily accessible display of important information that becomes relevant to the reader . . . is a wonderfully written story combining all the elements of great storytelling: a compelling plot, unique characters, excellence in the use of language, and a highly educated and easily accessible display of important information that becomes relevant to the reader . . .

An Incredible Display of What is A Great Legal Thriller 

Peter Thomas Senese has written one of the most profound, interesting, complex, and engaging books I have ever read in his story of international parental child abduction "Chasing The Cyclone". 

I will warn you now that this book is not for the faint-of-heart, or for those of you, who like me, may become deeply enmeshed with a well-written story's main character that you will feel the anger, pain, and overwhelming frustration caused by the chaotic storms a parent must race into in trying to rescue their abducted child. One of the highest complements, and perhaps oddest as well that I can give to Peter Thomas Senese is that I must have thrown your book at the wall or a piece of furniture on at least five or six occasions! Yes, I felt became one with your protagonist Paul Francesco as he was Chasing The Cyclone. (Incidentally, this is the perfect title for this book). 

Paul Francesco portrays himself to be somebody who keeps others at a distance as he privately keeps the pain of his former wife's ongoing violations of access and visitation court orders concerning his seven-year old son, Alex. Despite the behavior of Francesco's ex, the wanton 'D', Paul never stops trying to be part of his son's life.

Unfortunately for Alex and Paul, 'D', aided by her newest of what appears to be a long string of boyfriends, has set into place what simply amounts to be a diabolical and evil plan that includes a purposeful abduction and kidnapping of the child of the marriage - all with the intent to cause Paul irreparable pain while also scheming to steal significant assets of the unsuspecting father. 

Writing in the first person, Thomas uses a very clever writing technique of putting one of his friends, the irreproachable Jim Eastern (a senior officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) on the courtroom stand in order to further each of the story's main characters, and creatively and compellingly provide important background for the story. 

There, in the courtroom, Thomas executes a near flawless, fast-paced series of barbs that culminate with the unthinkable! A Court Order that essentially helps facilitate the cunning plan of D, and her scamming New Zealand boyfriend, Lester. 

With courtroom action taking place in Vancouver, Peter Thomas Senese pushes the reader with a sense of purpose into the world of deceit and foul intent; the painful world of parental international child abduction, landing in all places in a place where 'the world is turned upside down: Sheepville' (New Zealand).

From the shores of Wellington, we see a tireless efforts of Paul, aided by some really fun and clever characters (Benny, Boa, Jim, Lydia - they make up an odd, entertaining supporting ensemble) as he attempts to recover his abducted son. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse for young Alex, as he is secretively whisked away from Sheepville, and somehow disappears despite Paul and his crew's best efforts to keep tabs on him. 

With great urgency, the reader's heart screams in pain and anger, as this young child is stolen once again ... this time, unknown to Paul, into areas of China where children are purchased under the blind eyes of law enforcement. 

Landing in Macau, "Chasing The Cyclone" explodes into an incredible thriller of a father willing to do anything possible required to save his son from the most horrific of evils: a world and a fate none of us would ever want to think about for our own children.

"Chasing The Cyclone" is a wonderfully written story combining all the elements of great storytelling: a compelling plot, unique characters, excellence in the use of language, and a highly educated and easily accessible display of important information that becomes relevant to the reader, even if the reader does not know how important the material is when they first open the book. 

During the two days that I sat to read this story of incredible love of father and son, I felt my chest panting, my arms straining, my teeth clenching, and ... smiles, warm, loving, dotting smiles of reflection. "Chasing The Cyclone" is a timeless masterpiece I strongly suggest every parent read: it will remind you just how important and precious your own child it. 

Chasing The Cyclone' Review by: Lee Harrison

... Peter Thomas Senese has written a powerful and engrossing story that crosses over the genres: autobiographical, thriller and crime whilst also educating the reader on the pandemic that has been and is affecting 1,000’s of children and families worldwide ...

Chasing the Cyclone by Peter Thomas Senese takes the reader of through the unenviable challenges that children and chasing parents face when confronted with the nightmare of parental abduction.
by Peter Thomas Senese takes the reader of through the unenviable challenges that children and chasing parents face when confronted with the nightmare of parental abduction.

We’re swept from country to country depending on where D, Alex’s mother, tries to hide. Alex is left confused: will he ever see his father or friends again? D’s only interest is to devalue and discard the previous life that Alex shared with his father, Paul.

Paul suddenly finds himself as a ‘Chasing Parent’. He follows D’s trail of lies and deception that had been prearranged with the help of her lawyers. His previous life is now frozen as his only focus is reuniting with his son. With the help of a good team, friends and some pretty snazzy footwork on the soccer field, Paul and Alex are able to share a moment to carry them through the next phase of the cyclone. Alex now knows his father is going to keep his promise, and Paul pulls out all the stops to do so.

Peter Thomas Senese has written a powerful and engrossing story that crosses over the genres: autobiographical, thriller and crime whilst also educating the reader on the pandemic that has been and is affecting 1,000’s of children and families worldwide. A very useful resource guide on International Parent Abduction that also accompanies the book.
Highly recommended.