Terrorists bomb a hotel in Tokyo, but the reverberations are felt around the world in a new international thriller co-written by TV producer and author Gary Grossman and global executive and crisis management expert Ed Fuller.
In RED Hotel (Beaufort Books), a high-ranking Kremlin diplomat is assassinated. A building in Kiev blows up. Russia begins to amass forces along its western borders. Former Army intelligence officer Dan Reilly, now an international hotel executive with high-level access to the CIA, believes the plot is much bigger than anyone imagines, involving the empire-building, Putin-esque president of Russia.
Reilly begins a globe-hopping search for answers as the clock ticks down to a climactic event in Brussels that threatens NATO and the very security of member nations.
RED Hotel weaves the experiences of Grossman and Fuller into an incredibly timely globetrotting thriller that’s fiction on the edge of reality. Both authors recently fielded questions from BookTrib about their backgrounds, insights and inspirations and how RED Hotel ultimately came together.
BookTrib: Describe RED Hotel in five words.
Gary Grossman: Timely, scary, inside, relevant, must-read.
BT: How do the ideas for RED Hotel come to you?
GG: I’m a TV producer by day, focusing on documentaries, news and information series. But my family background provided the foundation for my interest in politics and law enforcement. My dad was Chief Investigator for the New York State Civil Service Commission and my mom was campaign manager for a local mayor and a member of Congress. The combination of my work and the influence of my parents has me constantly reading, evaluating and considering the world we live in and the dangers we face.
RED Hotel focuses on two key dangers, brought to light from the inside out thanks to my collaborator Ed Fuller, former President of Marriott International. The dangers: Russia’s goal to reclaim its old Soviet-era borders, and protection for travelers, both foreign and domestic. As Tom Clancy described threats, they’re the real and present dangers.
Ed Fuller: I had written a business book in 2011 titled You Can’t Lead with Your Feet on the Desk, which included stories/examples of the many challenges and problems I solved. The book only began to touch on the number of encounters in the 151 countries I visited while heading up Marriott International Lodging. My friends suggested I do a novel based on many of the stories they had experienced with me. RED Hotel was a system I had created as head of Marriott’s International Crisis Team for Marriott over those 22 years.
GG: I love political thrillers. But in truth, I describe my novels as “political reality thrillers.” Why political reality? Because they are based in truth, cover history, and are always driven by my goal to “think the unthinkable.” To put it another way, if it hasn’t happened, it could. And if it could, we better be concerned about it right now! Today! I believe RED Hotel delivers on that premise.
BT: The book starts off with a bang, literally: the Kensington Royal Hotel in Tokyo is bombed. Are hotels ideal targets for terrorists?
EF: They are considered “soft targets” because they are open 24/7, host major events, and house famous celebrities, politicians and key executives. If terrorists want to make news and terrify surrounding cities, targeting a hotel is perfect. In my role at Marriott, we dealt with kidnappings, bombings, government insurrections, invasions and major catastrophes.
BT: Russia is a key focal point in RED Hotel. In a roundabout way, the events in your book suggest Russia is attempting to cause instability and chaos in boarder nations leaving them vulnerable for a possible land grab. Why was it important to create several villainous characters whose ultimate goal is just that?
EF: Russia and Putin are truly stirring the pot throughout the world. I spent a great deal of time working with the old Eastern Bloc country hotel companies in the 1970s and spent time in Russia for 25 years. Today, Russian leadership is the perfect model for the villainous characters in our books.
BT: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
GG: The message of RED Hotel is twofold: If you see something, say something; and the United States needs to maintain its alliances and support NATO nations. While we may feel safe, Moscow has boasted it could take most Eastern European capitals within 48 hours. All they need is the right provocation and the belief that we will not act. In a nutshell, that’s the message of Red Hotel, wound tight in a harrowing, globetrotting plot.
BT: What is the hardest part of writing?
GG: Starting is always a challenge. Taking that first leap into sentence one. But then, it all flows; for me, three or four pages every day. The more I write, the quicker the characters take shape and take over for me. When I’m firing on all cylinders, it seems as if I just take dictation from the characters. They’re the ones who tell me where to go, what to write, and how to craft the story. And believe me, the characters do take over, and the best part comes when they surprise me! Or in the case of RED Hotel, how they surprised both Ed and me.
BT: Do you write to educate, inspire, entertain, or all three?
GG: All three, but in a different order. First and foremost, my thrillers must entertain. Accordingly, RED Hotel delivers an exciting, fast-paced story that underscores the real-world dangers we face underscored with Ed Fuller’s inside insight. And through the narrative we created there’s exciting content and rich characters who can inspire and educate, and others who live in the shadows and frighten.
BT: The character Dan Reilly visits Capitol Hill to lobby the government about intelligence sharing with U.S. corporations. Why is this so important, both in the book and in real life?
EF: The government, military and industry operate in a more complex world. We used to have clear-cut boundaries that defined where America’s enemies were. That is no longer the case. We don’t have clear boundaries. Industries operate in countries that were our enemy and still are in some cases. We operated in Russia, China, Vietnam, Panama, Georgia, Pakistan and India. We experienced having our hotels in the middle of insurrections and invasions. We have to work closely with several departments of the government and share information.
BT: What has been the most surprising part about your literary journey?
GG: The journey has been, in a word, thrilling. I get engaged through the research and discovery process. I feel exhilarated breaking down huge global issues to bite size. I’m positively flying high as the characters come alive on the page.
It was a wonderful collaborative process in RED Hotel because so much of the story springs from Ed Fuller’s exciting career. The result: a globe-hopping expedition from Japan to Mexico, Iran to Russia, through international capitals to inside the White House and Kremlin. It’s eye-opening, fact-based, and revealing. A surprise every step of the way for us, which we hope will carry right through the read.
RED Hotel is now available.
About the Authors:
Gary Grossman is a multiple Emmy Award-winning television producer and author of the bestselling international political thrillers Executive Actions, Executive Treason, Executive Command, Executive Force, and Old Earth. He has also written two highly regarded non-fiction books on TV history. Grossman has been published by Dell/Delacorte, Byron Preiss Publishing, Diversion Books, Harlequin, Arlington House, and CBS/Popular Library. He has produced for NBC News, served as a columnist for the Boston Herald American, written for the Boston Globe and contributed to the New York Times. Grossman is Contributing Editor to Media Ethics Magazine and has produced more than 10,000 television programs for 40 networks. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers Association, the Military Writers Society of America, and the Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors.
About Ed Fuller
Ed Fuller is a hospitality industry leader, educator and best-selling author, as well as President of Irvine, California-based Laguna Strategic Advisors, a global consortium that provides opportunities and services to independent providers of business consulting services. Culminating with his service as Marriott International’s President & Managing Director of International Lodging for nearly 22 years, Mr. Fuller’s distinguished, performance-driven corporate career spanned four decades.
Mr. Fuller served as a Captain in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for service during missions in Vietnam and Germany.