Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, author Terry Conrad read “The Hardy Boys” book series, and he said the mystery and suspense of those books have influenced his writing since he was a boy.
Conrad is a senior accountant for the state of Georgia and has lived in Newnan for a little over two years. He enjoys writing in his spare time, and his third book, “The Idealist,” is set to be released soon.
“The Idealist” is based on the character Trevor Backe, who decides he’s had enough of the corruption in government. He comes up with a plan to solve this by starting a third political party, Conrad said.
The book highlights Backe’s struggles on how to develop the third party, and how to get other people to recognize and vote for it.
Conrad said “The Idealist” also demonstrates the resistance Backe faces from the people who are in power, where much of the action of the book comes into play.
“When I initially started writing it, it was about four years ago. So, part of what prompted it was the political scene that we had in our country, and that’s still going on even today,” he said.
Conrad said themes from people who are in politics have bled into characters in his book.
He said “The Idealist” is a way for him to express some of his political beliefs in a fictional setting.
“Although not everything in my book is per se something that I espouse politically, it does kind of lean towards what I believe,” he said.
Backe believes that politics in Washington, D.C. can be fixed through a bi-partisan effort aimed at ending corruption in government.
“I took that aspect of what I believe, and put it into the character, and his plan in order to root out corruption in government,” he said.
“My expectations are that it might garner a lot of interest, just because of the political climate of the country. Right now, it’s a hot button for a lot of people,” he said.
Conrad said he hopes the book will allow people to see that there are things they can do to help improve the way representatives act.
“Whether you’re on the Republican or Democrat side of everything that’s going on right now, I think people are really starting to wake up to the idea that all of them are corrupt to some extent,” he said.
Conrad’s book includes a reference to a group called RepresentUs, which works to pass anti-corruption laws at the state level, according to www.represent.us . He said he felt like the aims of Backe in “The Idealist” aligned with the message of RepresentUs.
“The Idealist” is different from the other two books he’s written. This is the first one he has written from the main character’s point of view, and it has longer chapters and more character development, Conrad said.
“I developed a little bit from the first two books and tried to improve my writing,” Conrad said.
He wrote his first book, “Illusion of Grandeur,” in 2011. The book is about a cult that is trying to bring about the end of the world. The two main characters are a cult expert and a private investigator who is looking for a missing girl that joined the cult.
Conrad entered it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and out of 10,000 entries, he was a quarter-finalist, landing in the top 250.
His second book, “Fugue,” was published in 2013. A “fugue” state is a mix between multiple personality disorder and amnesia, and someone who is in this state will forget who they are and start a new persona until their memory comes back, Conrad said.
The book is about someone who is in a fugue state and is accused of being a serial killer. The main character doesn’t know if he is a serial killer or not, because he has a different persona. As he begins to regain his memories, he has to piece together whether he is guilty or not.
Conrad said he has plenty of ideas for stories and plans to continue writing despite his busy schedule.
The ride to the abandoned warehouse was more than a little uncomfortable.
The effects of the taser began wearing off, but I was still sore from being thrown into the van and from the cuffs restricting the flow of blood to my hands. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew that I was in serious trouble.
The van stopped after what seemed like half an hour. My captors pulled me out and led me blindly into an enclosed room inside the building. I was tied to a chair before the blindfold and gag were finally removed.
“What am I doing here?” I asked.
The leader, the largest of the three men, clenched his teeth in rage.
“Shut up!” he bellowed at me. “I’m the one who asks the questions here.”
I wasn’t in a position to argue with him, so I kept my mouth shut.
Looking around, my eyes became fixated on the far side of the room and a selection of items that were clearly intended to harm someone. Pruning shears, a hammer, a saw, a sledge hammer, various types of knives, and a revolver were the toys on display. The thugs were serious, and I was terrified.
I’ve certainly seen movies and TV shows where people were tortured for information before, but I was having a hard time trying to figure out what information I could possibly have that would be of interest to men like this. What could they possibly want from me? I had no clue and that scared me even more because I had a feeling that whatever they wanted from me, I wasn’t going to be able to provide. This meant items on that table were going to be used on me and there was nothing I could do about it.
The big man who seemed to be in charge came over and moved within an inch of my face. Then he growled. Honest to God, he actually growled at me, and then he barked at the top of his lungs, his spittle splattering against my left eye. His breath was corrosive.
When he was done intimidating me, he backed away, and he and his friends began to laugh.
“You’re in a shitload of trouble, Backe,” he exclaimed, “You’re about to see what I do to fuckers who stand in my way.”
My mind began to race. What the hell could I do? Beg for my life and hope to get out of there unscathed? Offer them money? Try to dazzle them with false bravado? I’m not one who would consider myself a coward – I usually stand up for what I believe in – but torture? I didn’t think I was built for that.
“What do you want from me?” I asked again. “Look, if I know what you’re after, maybe we can work something out.”
It’s hard to sound tough and reasonable at the same time, but I felt like I’d pulled it off. I didn’t really expect my captors to negotiate, but what the hell did I have to lose?
The big man only laughed at me again.
“I’m not here to extract information from you, Backe. I’m here to convey a warning. One that you’d better take seriously.”
I swallowed hard enough that it was audible to everyone in the room. The leader’s voice was dire, his demeanor ominous and thoroughly convincing.
“End your party now. No more running for office, and tell the ones in office now to cooperate with the rest of Congress. If they have a bill they want to pass, your people are to pass it. All the current legislation your party is trying to pass, drop it. If you don’t, the consequences will be severe.”
I froze for a minute, unsure of how to respond. For the first time since I was nabbed, though, I felt a bit of relief. Whoever my captors were, they didn’t plan to kill me. Quite the opposite; they needed me alive. They weren’t planning to kidnap or kill anyone in the party, either – they were sent to convince me to play along with someone else’s agenda. Though American, they were terrorists in every sense of the word. They were attempting to stifle liberty using scare tactics.
To my own surprise, I felt my fear abating. I was starting to get angry. No matter what, I resolved not to let them see my fear. They weren’t going to stop New Day, either. I wasn’t going to let them.
Yeah, I was trapped in their little torture chamber. Pissing them off was a stupid move.
“No,” I said, defiantly.
Chad unlocked the front door to his darkened ranch house, and reached for the light switch. When he flipped it to the on position, nothing happened, much to his dismay. Great, now I have to find a light bulb.
Chad set his keys on the small stand next to the door, and searched blindly through the dark for the switch to the kitchen. Stumbling over his sneakers which he had left in the hall earlier, Chad let out a curse word and continued onward. He placed his hand on the wall just below shoulder height and reached for the light switch. It’s gotta be around here somewhere…
Eureka! Finally, the switch touched his fingertips and he flipped it into the on position. Expecting this light to turn on, he found himself disappointed yet again. What’s going on here? It can’t be a power outage because the street lights were on and so were my neighbor’s lights. Had a fuse blown out all the lights in the house?
Chad didn’t have much time to think before a bolt of electricity pulsed through him, leaving him writhing on the ground in pain. At first, he thought some electrical surge in the house had administered this cruel torture, but within moments he knew that this was no accident.
Chad’s muscles twitched uncontrollably as someone dragged his body across the hallway floor and into the kitchen. Next he heard the scraping of the legs of a chair across the tile floor until it stopped right next to his left ear. Chad would have grated his teeth at hearing the sound if he had not already been grating his teeth due to the shock treatment he had just received.
“Go get the lights.” growled the man hovering over him as he hoisted Chad up onto one of his own dining room chairs and then propped him up.
The lights came on a few seconds later as a man behind him forcefully bent his convulsing arms behind him and fastened them to the chair with handcuffs. Next, the figure took another two pairs of cuffs and locked each ankle to the chair as well. It appeared as though Chad wasn’t going anywhere for awhile.
“How long is this going to last?” asked the man who re-entered the room.
“What? The effects of the taser? It depends on the person. It could last up to fifteen minutes on some people, but for most it’s only a handful. Why? Are you in a hurry or something?”
“I’d just like to get this going and find out what this bastard knows, that’s all.”
Chad could not see the man behind him as he began to regain some control over his bodily functions, but he knew the voice; it was Hargrove from the incident at work.
The man standing in front of Chad looked like the man from the hotel he had seen earlier. The short but brawny gentleman had a face that looked like he had been hit with a frying pan. His nose was short and stubby and seemed almost flat against his face. He was cross-eyed as well, a feature that enhanced the compressed nose.
The stubby-nosed man appeared very anxious about the events that were unfolding, but at the same time, Chad could sense that the nervousness wasn’t due to apprehensiveness in being a part of the situation, but rather due to wanting to get things going. Hargrove definitely seemed to be the one in charge, but this man was certainly a willing participant.
“Make him tell me where she is!” shouted the stub-nosed assailant.
“Patience. Let me set things up first.”
“I’m all out of patience with this monster!” he responded as he leaped towards Chad and tackled him, knocking the chair backwards and onto the tile floor.
Chad’s head hit the ground with a thud causing him to yelp in pain. The man then put both hands on Chad’s neck and began to cut off his ability to breathe. Shackled, Chad was unable to fend him off as his life was suddenly quite literally in this stranger’s hands.
“Hey! Have some composure Gary!” yelled Hargrove.
Hargrove stopped what he was doing at the kitchen table and dragged Gary off of Chad. Gary was still fuming, but reluctantly backed off, at least for the moment.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? Cooler heads prevail here, Gary.”
“Tell me where Brenda is you son of a bitch!” Gary directed at Chad, “Make him tell me where she is!” he then yelled at Hargrove.
“Hey, listen to me!” Hargrove slapped Gary across the face to gather his attention, which he now had, “A guy can’t talk with someone choking him. We’ve got a plan here, now let’s stick with it. He is going to tell us where she is, I promise you. OK? Can you settle down and let me handle this?”
Gary looked at Hargrove and then at Chad. He was still on edge, but at least for now, he was willing to give Hargrove control of the situation. Gary had a plan of his own though. After Charley told him where his daughter was, he was a dead man.