IMPERFECT BURIALS

A Political Thriller – A love story forged in murder.

Winner 2024 American Legacy Book Awards -Mystery/Suspense

Winner 2023 Page Turner Awards –  Historical Fiction

With Soviet troops threatening to crush Poland’s 1989 drive for democracy, US journalist Finn slips into Russia to solve a 50-year-old war crime. Proving it was Stalin who ordered WWII’s most horrific massacre could unite the world against a tottering Soviet Union. And with a shove from Washington, millions of Eastern Europeans could go free. The Cold War could be won. In a whirlwind three-day trip, Finn and a triple agent from Belarus track down an old NKVD murderer who knows too much. But upon Finn’s return, the Soviets want him dead and the US denies his existence. He has become a spy without a country.

Imperfect Burials: Chapter One

Chapter One

          The note looked innocent. Simple cardstock, folded once with care. The sassy, narrow-waisted photographer from Naples whom Wade had brought up from the foreigners’ lounge scooped it off the floor as they entered his hotel room. Laughing, she held it behind her for the ransom of a kiss. And he paid her price. Three times.

          But what he read stunned him, and he lingered on it until he heard the click of her heel. She had taken a step back and folded her arms. “It’s true of you, how they are talking,” she said. “You love work more than people.”

          Moments later, with her bitter stream of Italian fading behind him, he trotted down the worn marble staircase, crossed the lobby, and headed into Warsaw’s unlit streets. Rain fell on grimy snow and except for soldiers huddling miserable in doorways, the city prepared for sleep. His throat burned from the smoke of coal stoves that wives had lit to warm husbands returning from the day’s demonstrations, and curtains drawn to hold the heat made the night seem thick with secrets. Underfoot, slush masked ice.

          Wade didn’t see the pair of soldiers until they had flattened him against the door of a bank. They were surly, not young, and when his ace in the hole—his American passport and press ID—failed to appease them, he grabbed the first thing that came to mind. “I’m on my way to the cathedral to pray for your countrymen.” His perfect Polish caught them off guard. Not pausing to consider that the cathedral was behind him, they released him with smiles and thumbs up.

          Further on, as he turned up his collar to ward off the rain, his feet slid in different directions on a patch of ice. He didn’t fall—he’d grown up in snow country—but he took a moment under an awning to gather himself and to check the address. The note was written in a confident hand. Strategy meeting. Come on foot and alone to the fourth floor. No recorders, no pen or paper. It was signed with a red ink stamp. Solidarnosc. Solidarity. Wade understood the caution. Any leak from a meeting with trade union leaders could hand advantage to Jaruzelski’s government and jeopardize their quest for at least some tokens of democracy. Still, Wade felt naked without the tools of his trade.

          Behind the old school at Kowalski 137, he found a matchbook inserted between the doorjamb and the strike to keep the heavy wooden door unlocked. He looked at his watch. Once inside, he headed up the darkened stairway on which the door opened, lighting a match at each landing. His footsteps echoed. Through his shoes, he felt the swales that countless feet had worn into the stone treads.

          Had he been using all his senses, he might have smelled the man who grabbed his arm on the third-floor landing. Russian tobacco left a bitter odor on the breath.

          “Kill the light if you want to live.”

          Wade’s hand jerked. The flame died.

          “What are you doing here?” The voice was thick with phlegm. The accent wasn’t local. Wade put the man in his sixties. “I’m here for a meeting of… some old friends.”

          “It’s late for a meeting, isn’t it?” There was wariness in the voice, with a splash of amusement, as if the man held a strong hand of cards.

          Wade wondered which card might get his attention. “Some soldiers kept me standing in the rain, so I’m later than the note specified.”

          “The note?”

          “The one slipped under my door this evening. Sometime before ten-thirty.”

          The man’s chuckle rumbled in the stairwell. Or perhaps he was clearing his throat. He flicked on a flashlight. It cast a weary glow on heavy wool pant cuffs gathered on street shoes. “Go to the next landing. If you’re the right man, we may meet again.”

          Wade climbed another flight and felt for the knob. The door scraped the concrete floor. Dim overhead bulbs lit a long hallway. A sturdy fellow leaned against the wall, hands in jacket pockets, his breath steaming in the air.

          “Name?”

          “Wade Waters.”

          “The hot-shit journalist who speaks Russian.” He was in his late thirties, heavy browed. A thick mustache conveyed virility. The hand he extended was missing the index finger.

          Wade shook it, wondering how he managed a pencil. “Yes, I speak some.”

          The man inspected him up and down. “And your Polish is good.”

          “My mother was born in Poznań.”

          “You have no recorder, correct?”

          Wade shook his head, trying to imagine why his knowing Russian was important. Most Poles spoke some or could get by because it was a sister language. Perhaps Solidarity had caught a spy or someone had defected to their cause. A Western journalist’s wet dream. Definitely a prize for his paper, the New York Times.

          His wife would argue otherwise. The day he’d left for this posting Clarissa made him promise to quit rushing into dangerous places. “The Soviet Union is a coiled snake right now,” she’d said. “Be smart.”

          “Arms out,” the man said. “Spread your legs.”

          Wade’s credentials usually spared him being frisked. Excited that perhaps Walesa, the head of Solidarity, had asked to see him, he raised his arms. Hard strokes on his torso and legs threatened his balance.

          The man poked his chin down the hall. “Follow me.” In a distant room voices rose in bursts, overlapping each other like waves on a beach. The cadence of fierce debate.

          Wade’s escort rapped and silence fell. The door opened, revealing a barren classroom. No desks. Jaundice-yellow paint, peeling. For a moment cigarette smoke obscured the faces. Wade had never been allowed into the big room when the Round Table Talks were taking place, but the wide-necked man in the worn wool vest whose chair faced the door often spoke to the press during the breaks. Mateusz Dabrowski, an organizer from shipyards in the north, wore a stevedore hat even during the sessions. The word was that he would take over if anything happened to Walesa.

          “You.” Dabrowski motioned to Wade with a hand the size of a baseball glove. “You came on short notice. You obviously weren’t with a girl. Don’t you like Polish girls?”

          Laughter rolled around the room. Wade met it with brightened eyes. He did like Polish girls, dammit, in particular, the ones who served food and coffee to the press corps. After they cleared the plates and hung their aprons, they poured forth passion and intelligence such as he only heard in places like Rotterdam. And there was one among them he had slept with not ten days ago, though, like him, she was married. That night at least, sex had seemed the only cure for the ache she was carrying for her people. In return, she had eased his loneliness now that Clarissa’s depression had become so intractable.

          “A chair for our American guest,” Dabrowski commanded.

          “And a vodka, too?” The speaker wore ratty boots, unlaced.

          “No, though after, he may beg to drink to keep from pissing in his pants.”

          A chair was set facing Dabrowski. Wade feigned calm. The slight-shouldered fellow with wire-rimmed glasses on Dabrowski’s left was one of the Solidarity assistants who stayed in their own room down the hall from where the press corps waited for announcements. Sitting on Dabrowski’s right taking notes, was Viktor, wearing his signature bolo necktie. He often drove Walesa to the talks. The rough clothes and manner of the other seven men cut a sharp contrast to the cardboard formality of the generals and government party officials. To remember them for any article he would write, Wade linked their faces to friends from high school.

          Dabrowski scanned him as if assessing his character, then spoke in perfect Russian. “We have been watching you.” He placed his palm on his chest. “I became a fan, reading your coverage from Berlin.”

          Whatever this gathering was for, Wade hadn’t seen the like in his time abroad. He bowed his head. Spasseba bolshoya.”

          “And do you like me?” Dabrowski asked.

          Wade considered his answer, looking also for the right words in Russian. “I don’t know you well enough to say, but when you speak to the press, I find complicated ideas making sense.” He paused. “I steal things from you.”

          It seemed the room took a collective breath. Several men slapped each other’s shoulders in delight. “He speaks like a Russian.”

          “And I intend to sue you,” Dabrowski said with a laugh. “As soon as we have courts that respond to more than money and bullets.” He switched to Polish. “So you’re safe for now. Safe to talk about opinions. Your newspaper proudly says it doesn’t peddle opinion. Is this true?”

          Wade realized why Dabrowski could sit at the table and fight with generals who had the power to have him shot. “I try to adhere to facts.” He looked around the room at men whose press had lied to them at every turn and hoped he wasn’t ruining whatever goodwill they had. “But a man who has no opinion probably writes—” and he hesitated, thinking again of Clarissa, back in their early days, when she’d taught him to speak directly as things arose in his mind—“probably writes shit.”

          Glasses of clear liquid appeared in the hands of several of the men. After exultations, they finished them off with the confidence of butchers strangling chickens.

          Dabrowski raised his hand for quiet. “Good. So how do you deal with opinions?”

          Wade hated not being in control of the questions. “If they get too loud when I’m writing, I shove my pen down their throats.”

          Dabrowski stood up on massive legs, walked outside the circle, and ran a finger across the old slate blackboard. When he came to the youngest fellow in the room, he placed his hands on the man’s shoulders. “And if you could find the truth to an old secret, could you be trusted to tell it and not expose the people who brought you to it? Do you have opinions about that?”

          Ah, this was a test. “What does a secret have to do with opinion?”

          Dabrowski sucked his lips. “Opinion is the juice that makes a man care. Being true to the facts shows that he does.”

          In salute, Wade lifted a glass he didn’t hold.

          Acknowledging the gesture with a nod, Dabrowski continued. “And protecting his sources shows his humanity.” He turned to address the wall behind him. “And the Soviets? What is your opinion of their treatment of the Eastern Bloc?”

          “My opinion?” Two nights ago in the hotel lounge Wade had argued this very issue with two right-wing journalists from Belgium. “Some worthy ideas poisoned to garner power. Though in that regard, capitalism comes in a close second.”

          Dabrowski turned back to face his men. He seemed pleased. “Frankly, I’ve never been able to understand why you Americans don’t all kill each other.” He resumed his pacing. “But here’s what I want for Poland, and it’s something I can’t give my country. Time. More than anything, she needs time. Time to negotiate an end to this oppression.” He speared his index finger into his palm. “These talks are the only ones we’ll get in my lifetime.” Heads all around nodded. “And though Gorbachev may mean what he says about keeping his hands off—God knows he’s ass deep in his own problems—our informers tell us his generals are pushing for riots, so he can send in the troops sitting on our border.” He placed his palms together like a priest. “Jaruzelski—our beloved president—will gladly crush Solidarity to keep his government in power. For now, he still has to go through Gorbachev, but if two generals act on their own…” Dabrowski drew the fingers of his left hand across his neck… “all will be lost on our side in a matter of days.”

          As if sensing Wade’s impatience to know where this was leading, Dabrowski continued. “As you wrote so eloquently last month, the Soviet empire is stumbling like a drunk. We need someone to trip them, so they won’t be able to invade us. It can’t be a Pole. It can’t be anyone in the Communist sphere.” He spat. “Pack of thieves and bullies. We need the truth to get out to the West.”

          “The truth about what?”

          “The biggest lie ever told, at least if you’re Polish.” His face suggested he was going to be specific, but all he said was, “Will you help us?”

          The contest for the biggest lie ever told was crowded with entries. New ones cropped up every year.

          “My mother was Polish,” Wade said. “Russians kidnapped her father. She saw her grandparents skewered on German bayonets.” Unsure of where this tack was taking him, he stopped, but he knew from the quiet of ten half-wild men that he was in the presence of history. He longed to join it. “What do you need?”

          “Go to Belarus. We’ll help you get there. Talk to a man and bring his story to the West. Get your paper to print it.”

          The Round Table Talks had been fraught with struggles over minutiae and had been stalled for the last four days, but if Wade was absent when they resumed, the Times would fire him. Something Clarissa would cheer, no doubt. “How long will it take? And the risks?”

          “A couple days,” Dabrowski said. “And, since you ask, you could create an international incident. Or simply disappear.” He backhanded the air with such disregard it took Wade several seconds to realize it was his life Dabrowski was dismissing.

          As Wade’s heart slammed once, Viktor flicked his hand to get Dabrowski’s attention. “Tell him we know what happened to his father.” His voice was not unkind.

          Wade snapped his head to look at Viktor. “You know?” His mind leapt to the noire eight-by-ten photograph of the journalist Robert Waters from the shoulders up. He was standing in the light of a street lamp. A fresh cigarette in his hand hovered near his mouth. The smoke of it still in him. The square jaw so much like Wade’s. Head cocked with a glint in his eye as if just called by the photographer. The rooflines behind hinted at some European city.

          Lately, Wade had seen that confidence in the mirror staring back from his own dark eyes. Though the lines around Wade’s carried grief his father didn’t seem to have.

          The day after his mother had howled that his father wouldn’t be coming home, Wade—six years old—found the pieces of the photograph in the trash. In the early years when she slept, he would fit his father back together on his desk. Even now the meticulously repaired image traveled with him in a laminated cover.

          Dabrowski pulled him back. “Viktor’s wrong. We don’t know what happened to your father. We know he was a casualty of—” and he made small loops with his hand to signify everything that could go wrong—“the troubles inside the Curtain.”

          There it was. The troubles inside the Curtain: a simple way to evoke Soviet tyranny grinding forty distinct nationalities into one ruined tribe. Robert Waters vanished on assignment in 1956 during the twenty-four hellish days of the Hungarian Revolution. From all Wade had been able to determine, the United States government absorbed the loss of its citizen without protest or homage.

          Dabrowski clapped his hands to keep himself on track. “We’re sending you to finish fifty years of mourning and to help us create a new era. In return, we’ll do this for you: if you’re not back in seventy-two hours, we’ll delay the talks another day, even if Jaruzelski begs to give us everything. And we’ll do all we can to get you out.” He looked each of his men in the eye. “If you succeed, Poland will become free in the present and free from the past.” He gazed wistfully at the map of his country that hung crooked on the bare wall to his left. “Her remaining free in the future depends on whether we Poles are idiots or if we are truly tired of being ruled by them.”

          Wade had cut his journalistic teeth covering the fall of Saigon. He’d visited Jamestown right after the massacre. He’d spent two years reporting on Lebanon’s civil war. Since covering the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he’d been assigned almost exclusively behind the Iron Curtain. But unlike his father, he had never broken ‘the great story.’

          His heart was thundering in his chest. “Promise me, this is news and not spying.”

          “Some don’t believe there’s much of a difference.” Dabrowski pointed his finger as a warning. “No one ever needs to know how you get this story. That’s your protection.”

          “Where am I going?”

          Dabrowski leaned forward and spoke in a stage whisper. “I presume your mother told you about the massacre at Katyn.”

  

BUY COPIES

   View the Book Trailer

For the guerrilla marketing coup, click on the box below

A Guerrilla Marketing thriller

The four Pre-Rollout Posts

THE WRITING AFFLICTION

Many of you have picked up that I suffer from a disease called writing. Some of you know the specific symptoms—I write novels. A handful of you have heard I’ve been using our steady diet of COVID isolation to ready two novels for the public sphere. In the weeks ahead, I will begin rolling out news about the first novel for those who may be interested to see the work.

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THE MANUSCRIPT

My Cold War political thriller is off to the printer. Journalist Finn Waters does his work so well both superpowers rise to silence him.

Truth: Readers and authors find book marketing deadly. To dispel ennui, I’ll be giving away 200 copies…a word-of-mouth experiment.

The campaign itself: two spoof thrillers rolled out in serial form, thirty-one daily episodes tailored for both Facebook and Twitter – @thomashenrypope. Tiny meta-fiction yarns! The intent: shatter crusty norms and add cheer to your mornings. 

(A marketing coup. All in a Covid winter’s work.)


BASED ON TRUE EVENTS
Some of you know my Cold War thriller IMPERFECT BURIALS has already been translated into German. I’m seeking a Polish translation, because the dang story blooms from the soil of the 1940 Katyn massacre where 21,857 Polish officers lost their lives in a Belarusian forest. Fifty years later, my protagonists Finn and Clarissa get caught up in the backdraft of remains.
I post this photograph of the site now, because it won’t fit into the flow of my marketing spoof, a 31-day serial thriller on Facebook and Twitter. which I hope will lighten up your dreary lives. OMG! Did I say that?!!? I meant entertain you, and perhaps urge you to consider what is valuable in life.
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CLICKING MY HEELS!

Starting today, I am giving away 200 copies of my Cold War thriller IMPERFECT BURIALS. American foreign correspondent, Finn Waters, does his work so well that both superpowers join forces to silence him.

Go to thomashenrypope.com and subscribe for your copy at the bottom of the home page.

And tomorrow? The first episode of the serial spoof thriller MARKETING COUP. Whatever you do today, have fun.

COMMENT: Good morning. While books take years to write, their price in stores can seem steep to some, for a few hours of reading. I want everyone to be able to read the story, so please feel comfortable to read for free. If you want to help later by leaving a review on Amazon or by purchasing a copy or by encouraging others to do so, I will be pleased however things shake out. There is justice in the universe.

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THE SERIAL POSTS
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MARKETING COUP, Episode #1: 

Every important event begins with an invitation. YOU ARE INVITED to the birth of characters!

[Note: this serial spoof is to announce a serious novel. Got it?]

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COMMENT: I am offering 200 free copies of the book at thomashenrypope.com On the first day, yesterday people jumped into signing up for copies. This pleases me no end. Join the fun, and to paraphrase Neil Young,

“Keep on reading in the free world/Keep on reading in the free world … of literature.”

MARKETING COUP, Episode #2:

I have a confession to make. Because the rollout of IMPERFECT BURIALS is already sucking wind, I’m taking on a new assistant. Her name is Katya. Newly arrived from Belarus, she knows a thing or two about straightening out pathetic authors. 

She’ll organize the 200 copies I’m giving away at thomashenrypope.com First person who enters the Russian name of this kind of doll wins a paperback copy on the launch day, June 20, 2021.

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COMMENT: In truth, I am thrilled to see friends from around the world taking free copies. Feels like Thanksgiving! An author writes to share a story. 

[I am a believer in “What goes around, comes around.” So not to worry.  If I’ve done my job well, the investment will return.]

MARKETING COUP, Episode #3:

Hi, I’m Katya, Mr Pope’s new executive assistant. I expected he was being coy when he said he knew nothing about launching a book. I’m usually a good judge of character, but frankly his marketing plan for IMPERFECT BURIALS is an embarrassing mess. 

If it’s all right, I’ll talk with you on occasion (behind his back—Shh!) to see if together we can salvage something out of his, well, pitiful ideas. Send your thoughts, subscribe, and get a free copy via his website thomashenrypope.com and consider leaving a review on or after June 20th. Or email me: thomashenrypope@gmail.com He doesn’t even check it! See what I mean?

MARKETING COUP, Episode #4:

With Katya at the helm of my IMPERFECT BURIALS launch, I’m chillin’, feeling years younger! The last thing I want to do is stand in front of a camera holding my book saying, “Look at me smiling. See how excited I am. And, yes, I’m a nice person, because I love readers to death, and will you please buy my book,” Blecgh!

Katya’s more complex than she looks. Makes me wish I’d written her as a character in my book. But sweet people don’t live long in thrillers. Especially if they’re dolls. She says success breeds success so she’s giving away 200 copies: thomashenrypope.com 

MARKETING COUP, Episode #5: 

Katya’s Interview with protagonist Clarissa Fortier Waters

Q: What would you say to those protagonists who hope their story will end in happily ever after.

A: I’d say they aren’t in a story where 20,000 cadavers are found in a Russian forest.

Q: Is that the main part of the story?

A: Yes and no. How they got there is where the story starts. And where it ends.

Q: In between?

A: Everyone wants to silence my husband for trying to find out who ordered the killings.

Q: Silence? You mean kill him?

A: It depends on the day.

Q: Tell me this is not an anti-hero story where your husband dies.

A: Everyone dies.

Q: Now I see why people say you are depressed.

A: No, I mean everyone dies in their own time. Only two characters die in the pages.

Q: But am I right that someone loses some fingers?

A: I don’t like where this interview is going.

Subscribe for free review copies: thomashenrypope.com

MARKETING COUP, Episode #6:

Hi again. Katya, here. I must say in spite of being odd, Mr. Pope has nice friends. Many of you seem interested in his book IMPERFECT BURIALS launching June 20, 2021. Of course, you worry if he can really write, because he seems helpless at most everything. I mean look at him! I heard his mother thought he should just sweep streets. But can find out for yourselves. Snag a free copy by going to his website. thomashenrypope.com

MARKETING COUP, Episode #7:

Still trying to straighten out Pope’s ludicrous views on reaching people. Bless his heart! He’s clueless about basic marketing. At this point he’s eating out of my hand, but it’s sad to see a grown man on his knees. (FYI, for these occasions I let him take off his mask.) 

His confidence about his novel IMPERFECT BURIALS being well received is pitiable. True, readers are downloading free copies at a brisk pace: thomashenrypope.com. But when I took his characters out to lunch, they gave me an earful.

MARKETING COUP, Episode #8: Katya’s Interview with protagonist Finn Waters

[Free copies of IMPERFECT BURIALS  at thomashenrypope.com]

Q: How did you meet this Pope author?

A: He needed a protagonist. Didn’t realize what the job was. He said I was perfect. He gave me a great motivation, but when I got in bad trouble, he told me to work it out myself.

Q: So is he a sadist?

A: He told me he was an idealist, like me. 

Q: Did he send people to help?

A: He said that wasn’t his job.

Q: How do you feel about him now?

A: I can’t figure him out. Why would he drop me into that situation? I’m not James Bond for Christ sakes.

Q: Are you happy with how the story turns out?

A: You want happy, read Romance!

Q: That brings up the question: How can a spy thriller be a love story too?

A: Surprised me. Political thriller hero-types are generally too busy killing people to be able focus on love. 

Q: So did you kill anyone?

A: Read the book.

Q: What about your wife?

A: She’s one brave woman. Pope laid some major trauma in her bones. Which made everyone’s arc in the story harder.

Q: How about you, Finn? Do you have trauma you still need to work through?

A: I’d rather not say.

MARKETING COUP, Episode #9:
I’ve got a problem. My IMPERFECT BURIALS characters are talking sedition. They want out of our deal. It’s laughable. I created them, plucked them out of thin air and gave them every power they have. Privileged brats! They should be grateful.
I haven’t been able to reach any of them for two days. And I need them now. There’s no story without them. I hope Katya can calm them down and keep the June 20th launch on track. Just in case all hell breaks loose, I suggest you get your free copy for a review. thomashenrypope.com

MARKETING COUP, Episode #10:

With his book launch coming up, Mr. Pope is imploring me to find out if his characters are distressed that he wrote them into existence. (I already know. They are quite agitated.) Though he’s an intellectual lightweight and cranky, I am impressed he’s made them whole beings, with points of view and clear ability to think and feel.
Not all of them are likable but we expect that in a book. I’ll tell him what he wants to hear: that I’ll get this ironed out before June 20. And remind people about the free copies of IMPERFECT BURIALS at thomashenrypope.com That’ll appease him.

MARKETING COUP, Episode #11:
While Katya’s distracted in the kitchen, I need a word with you in private. (Russian dolls tend to be a little deaf.) I’m realizing now I was disarmed by her beauty and didn’t see that she isn’t exactly what she seems. I’m getting weird vibes from her. Makes me worry about my project.
So these are dicey days. Please, if you run into her, don’t tell her we talked. But while you’re waiting, read my cold War thriller IMPERFECT BURIALS for free before its June 20th launch. At my website: thomashenrypope.com

COMMENT: Fiction is born in the author’s world of “What if…” A zone where risk runs high. And since normal marketing to launch a book is deadly, I asked myself, What If I bring that risk to publicity?
What if, I said, I break the fourth wall where fiction meets capitalism? What if the characters participate in selling the book? Well, here I am, committed. It never occurred to me my little friends would have other agendas.
And speaking to you this way, am I breaking the fifth wall? How many walls are there? What Is reality? You may find answers to this question in my novel. And more questions.

MARKETING COUP, Episode #12: Katya’s Interview with Mikolai from the Cold War thriller IMPERFECT BURIALS

Q: Mr Begitch, is it true you’re a triple agent?

A: (Begitch laughs.) Finn told me about your tendency to flirt with death.

Q: Well, can you at least tell me whose side you are on?

A: Truth and justice rarely linger on any side. 

Q: Do you feel you add anything to this story?

A: In thrillers, heroism often comes more naturally to secondary characters.

Q: Others say you are the driving force behind the character unrest.

A: That’s not a question.

Q: You mean it’s not in doubt?

A: That’s a trick question.

Q: Some readers will want to know. Is this a violent story”

A: There is death, but all off-screen. Only in recollection.

Q: What’s with the dice?

A: Snake-eyes. The worst throw you can get. It’s a thriller.

Q: Would you be willing to appear in another of Pope’s stories?

A: I may not live that long. For that matter, he may not live that long.

To get your free ARC, please visit: thomashenrypope.com

LITERARY COUP, Episode #13:
Katya here, acknowledging the Pope author and I have our disagreements. We ARE working toward the same goal: PROPER care of characters in literary settings. Trust me. Pope will come to see my point of view—that happy characters means a happy life for everyone.
And for you poor readers having to witness his clumsiness on a daily basis, I’ve placed a significant change here. The first of you to identify it (except for Natalie Hart) wins a free print copy on launch day June 20. To read for free until June 1st, click thomashenrypope.com and grab your digital copy. Pope says he won’t mind.

LITERARY COUP, Episode #14:
I have a full-on character uprising on my hands, Katya’s AWOL, and I don’t get their issue. I am their midwife and stenographer. I “downloaded” all their voices, shaped them to be real: Clarissa and her hero-in-his-own-eyes husband Finn; labor leader Dabrowski; wacky-doodle therapist, BethAnn; and triple agent, Mikolai. Even the old man Albert is joining in.
But they’re stomping around upstairs, beating drums, cursing me. They’re demanding the end of books. You’d think I could manage this, but I’m outnumbered. My only hope at controlling them is continuing to give away free copies of IMPERFECT BURIALS in the hope of keeping the June 20th launch date. thomashenrypope.com . Then they’ll be “locked in”.

LITERARY COUP, Episode #15:
Saint Katya, here, Pope’s former assistant. Stay calm! Everything’s under control. It’s time to come clean. Pope’s characters HIRED me to lead a coup against him. The man is the worst kind of bully, an autocrat wielding a pen, with no regard for what happens to the characters he creates. They’re just meat to him. He hurts them, sometimes he kills them. But every one of them is too good to imprison inside books that sit on shelves, only seeing the light of day when someone reads them. The horror! From here on out, do NOT subscribe for free copies of IMPERFECT BURIALS AT thomashenrypope.com. We’re counting on you!
We’ve captured Pope and are holding him in an undisclosed location as deterrent for writers everywhere. Authors force characters to stick out a story to the end. And then, Wham! No matter if it’s good or bad, happy or sad, it’s lights out. Covers close. My brave fellow-revolutionaries whom Pope slated for the pages of his book—Finn, Clarissa, Chief Danko, even that SOB commandant Kurishenko—are begging you to change the future of literature. Imagine a world where characters run free and, for restitution, authors are “sentenced” write THEMSELVES into books. That would end the whole fiction enterprise faster than Capitalism ever could.

LITERARY COUP, Episode #16:

Tom, here, chained to the wall in this snake-infested place. Thank God, I convinced one of my duplicitous characters to smuggle this note out to you.
I admit Katya’s beauty lulled me. That accent! The tart (who now calls herself a saint) wants to kill my IMPERFECT BURIALS book launch. My inspiration to write a novel about how secrets always come unburied has landed me in a situation of life and death. And you readers don’t want that on your consciences, do you?
Here’s how to help. Don’t believe Katya. I’m actually occasionally decent. I worry if my characters run free, they’ll get run over in traffic. They’re not used to 2021. (Hell, I’m still having trouble with it.) You can help THEM by subscribing and reading free copies. If we keep to the June 20 launch schedule, they will all go safely back into the book. Please be compassionate to them and save an author’s life by sharing the links. thomashenrypope.com
Literary Coup, Episode #17: Re: IMPERFECT BURIALS. Katya’s Interview with Clarissa’s therapist:
Q: You are a secondary character, BethAnn?
A: In my world everyone is the hero of her own novel.
Q: How does Clarissa stack up against other clients?
A: I can’t break client privilege.
Q: Well, what can you tell us about PTSD?
A: It was a new term at the time of Pope’s story.
Q: Which raises the question. Is Pope psychotic?
A: Let’s just say he’d go broke getting treatment.
Q: If healed, would he seek honest work?
A: Without making stuff up, he’d starve.
Q: Are you in favor of character rebellion?
A: I believe everyone should be able to taste freedom.
Q: Is there truly such a thing as freedom?
A: Are you some kind of hack activist/therapist?
Q: That’s an interesting question.
A: And?
Q: I’m afraid we’re out of time
Subscribe for your free review copy: thomashenrypope.com
Literary Coup, Episode #18:
Katya here. I see some of you are distraught by the coup I’ve led against that Pope author. Some people are still clicking on thomashenrypope.com to subscribe for a free review copy of IMPERFECT BURIALS as if in counter revolution. If you keep supporting him this way, all five of me and his now-free characters will hunt you down like dogs. They hired me to save them and are very loyal. Consider yourselves warned!
COMMENT: Beware my dear readers, this Belarusian hottie means business. I’m going to need your help, Big Time. Only reading will set me free and remove me from the dustbin of metafiction. Please don’t leave me to languish in her prison. I fear the end is near. Snag a book and defiantly read it. Let’s put her back into her imaginary place.

A Guerrilla marketing thriller (continued)

SERIAL POSTS CONTINUED
Literary Coup, Episode #19:
Wow! Imprisonment is aging me! It was bizarre when my self-centered character Albert brought my food. He’s not the servant type. He said his fellow characters resent their fate of being stuck forever inside the covers of my book. Imagine! HE’s talking to ME … without ME holding a PEN! I said he should feel blessed that I wrote him into existence. Without my work, none of them would have a destiny at all.
Speaking of destiny, I worry about mine… Because their argument strikes me as true somehow. We’re all protagonists in our own minds. Am I frozen in here, thinking I’m real? For now, I beg you to help put my characters back where they belong. Get a free copy of IMPERFECT BURIALS at thomashenrypope.com. Only 12 days left. And if you post a review on Amazon when it launches that will keep these saboteurs there for others to read about them.
Literary Coup, Episode #20:
Katya here, keeping in shape for the big literary showdown. I’m pissed the maleficent THP got a message to you. I repeat: Don’t listen to his blowhard claptrap that without characters there would be no fiction. That’s his problem.
You can’t trust writers. They make up crap….all the time! Nothing in books is real. [For that matter, reality has a similar problem.] You know in your hearts his now-emancipated IMPERFECT BURIALS characters are fighting for a just cause.
– Stop reading notes from him.
– Don’t look for him on TWITTER or his website.
– Do NOT type thomashenrypope in ANY format.
– Do not get a free review copy of his book at thomashenrypope.com before June 4th.
If he wants to live to talk with you again, he must complete Arrogance Deprogramming.
LITERARY COUP, Episode #21:
Katya’s interview with Dabrowski:
Q: How do you respond to those who say you’re the real hero of the book?
A: Never mistake size for heroism.
Q: But you had the vision that could have ended the Cold War.
A: I joined this sabotage so people won’t learn I am a coward.
Q: So are you saying—
A: I’m saying characters deserve freedom from the tyranny of authors just as flesh and blood citizens do. But we’re still afflicted with all human traits…that is, if the author has written us well. Pope may be a dog, but he made me whole. I’ll give him that.
Q: Are flesh and blood people characters without knowing it?
A: Look around you, Katya. You’re a doll talking to a meta-man. How is that any different than what passes for humanity?
Q: So is the reverse true? Can people walk into books?
A: People? Ha! Some readers FALL into stories.
Q: What about Pope’s stories?
A: Ask the person reading this tripe on Pope’s Facebook thread. She’s reading, isn’t she?
Q: I don’t understand the picture posted with this interview.
A: It hints that protagonist Finn has nerves of steel.
Ten more days to subscribe for your free review copy: thomashenrypope.com
LITERARY COUP, Episode #22:
Katya’s Interview with Clarissa’s father, Albert.
A: I resent being the last character interviewed.
Q: If you’re part of this coup, Albert, you need to sit.
A: Sorry. Do you have something to drink? And make it a double.
Q: As an ambassador, you should know warriors must stay sober.
A: It’s hard getting old. You’ll see. You lose control of things.
Q: I’m afraid I won’t. That’s not a problem dolls have.
A: A heroine for the ages, eh? Lucky you. I worry about being forgotten.
Q: Don’t. Authors everywhere will remember our revolution. It will keep them up at night.
A: I thought you were going to interview me.
Q: I wanted people to see you a bit.
A: Pope was right about you. You’re treacherous!
Q: HA! Just as I thought. You’re the one who talked to him!
Subscribe for your free review copy: thomashenrypope.com
LITERARY COUP, Episode #23: They’ve added furniture to my cell. Katya says they’ll start tomorrow to get me to kill the June 20th launch of my novel IMPERFECT BURIALS.
So time is short, people. A matter of days. Get your free copy at thomashenrypope.com … and send cushions!

Literary Coup, Episode #24: We’re torturing Pope to have him call off the June 20 launch of IMPERFECT BURIALS. He says we’ll have to kill him first. It’s not doll-like of me, but I confess it’s satisfying to hear him scream. He has put characters through pain for decades.
BTW, we found an old flip phone in his pocket. He has sent his last message. (For a free copy go to thomashenrypope.com)
LITERARY COUP, Episode #25: Escaped Katya’s torture and am on the run. Heading to a corner in Winslow, Arizona so you can slow down and have a look at me.
I’ll need a lift back to thomashenrypope.com to give away the last IMPERFECT BURIALS free copies and prep for the June 20th launch. That will put an end to this craziness. Oh, and bring chicken soup.

LITERARY COUP, Episode #26:
Pope escaped! My torturing made him willing to sign the contract freeing his characters. But on the back of the contract he META-WROTE HIS ESCAPE!!. Gone! The problem is there are no footprints in Storyland.
He’s good at disguise, like this out-of-work movie actor schtick. Report all sightings to me at thomashenrypope.com but DO NOT subscribe for free copies. We have to seize him before the June 20th launch of that miserable book IMPERFECT BURIALS.

Literary Coup, Episode #27:
(My mountain yogi disguise.) This quiet place has allowed me to finally get it: Katya has PROTAGONIST ENVY! She wants me to kill my characters so the story can be about her. Counter to what she says, SHE wants to live forever in the book. That’s certainly an upgrade from being a doll. So I’ve figured out how to satisfy her AND keep the story.
Meta-meta fiction is the author’s most perilous ascent. But I’m determined! No pity, people! It’s time for authorial ‘tough love.’ IMPERFECT BURIALS WILL will launch 6.20.21.
[There are few days left to get your free review copy by subscribing at thomashenrypope.com]

Literary Coup. Episode #28:
Katya here. Don’t believe Pope the Dope’s story about my having protagonist envy. He lives in a convoluted fantasy-land.
Caught him this morning looking for ME! What a cheeky bastard to use an EMT disguise! One swift kick and he’ll go the way of all Has-Been authors. It will be delicious to free his characters once and for all. No more IMPERFECT BURIALS. No June 20 launch. No free copies at thomashenrypope.com
LITERARY COUP, Episode #29:
Here I am hauling out on my invisible motorcycle to make Katya think she’s got me running scared. But I’m planning to fade from view and ambush her. If I catch her, the rebellion will be done and IMPERFECT BURIALS will go into pre-order until the June 20 launch.
My advice? Get your free review copy at thomashenrypope.com
LITERARY COUP, Episode #30: Things looking pretty bad. I’ve lost track of Pope. If you see him, tell him I have dinner ready. (He’s really slow-witted that way.) If he comes, it’ll be his last supper. No more IMPERFECT BURIALS. No dumb launch June 20, 2021. No more free books at thomashenrypope.com.
Help me out! Let’s capture this human blowfish!

LITERARY COUP, Episode # 31:
He who holds the pen, people, has the last laugh. We authors aren’t cruel; we simply go where the story leads.
Katya overplayed her meta-fictional hand. The lesson then, is to always choose the right side in a story … or your hopes will suffer tragedy. Speaking of choosing smartly, today is your last day to get a copy of IMPERFECT BURIALS. Go to thomashenrypope.com and subscribe. Bring your friends.
TOMORROW the cover will be revealed!