Fiction Fest: Stephen J. Stirling’s ‘Persona non Grata’ takes center stage

Persona Non Grata 2x3 WEBStephen J. Stirling is no stranger to the publishing world, his debut book, “Shedding Light on the Dark Side,” was released last summer. While he enjoyed nonfiction writing, his heart yearned to have his novel published, which will become reality tomorrow, July 8,when “Persona non Grata” hits the market.

About “Persona non Grata”:

Paladin Smith is in a foreign country—and way out of his element! Sent to war-threatened Crimea to persuade a rebellious former student to return home, seminary teacher Paladin soon finds himself in the midst of political intrigues and international conspiracy. The close calls and adventures of this everyman thrust onto the world stage will thrill you until the final page!

“Persona non Grata” is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

From author: This excerpt is the book’s prologue.  Any explanation would betray the test of the passage: Can it stand alone?  Hopefully, it not only does so but intrigues the reader to want to read more.

The American stood erect on the forward deck of the Russian yacht. Cloaked in the shadows of the night, he stared silently over the dark expanse of the Black Sea. Impeccably attired in a dinner tuxedo, he wore the confident expression of a man in control of his world—with the cynical smile of one who intended to retain that control at any cost. He laughed softly to himself and gripped the railing. Under his feet the yacht churned at leisure through the water as waves lapped against the bow. Breathing deeply of the Crimean air, he felt himself at one with the luxury craft—the perfect blend of elegance, power, and heartless drive.

He shifted his weight ever so slightly as the yacht rocked on the surface of the water. Like himself, the ship had no sympathies or loyalties. Built of cold steel and lifeless wood, it was designed for self-indulgence, pleasure, and the display of ambitious superiority. And anything that lay in its course beyond the bow it would crush and send sinking to the bottom of the sea. He smiled again and peered contemptuously into the black distance, defiant of anything that would come into his path.

Behind him a steward cleared his throat. “Sir, the secretary will see you now.”

The American turned emotionlessly and walked past the steward to the staterooms. He knew his way to the cabin occupied by the Russian official who waited for him. He opened the door and entered without knocking.

A distinguished, gray-haired Russian stood behind a large desk. He was only slightly surprised at the insolent air of his American guest. “Mr. Ambassador,” he greeted him without smiling. “Sit down, please. I apologize for not welcoming you sooner. I’ve been on the telephone with our patron.”

The Ambassador nodded and sat in a cushioned chair. “Please relay my compliments to your president. His yacht is magnificent. I’ve been admiring the horizon.”

“Indeed?” The man behind the desk cocked an eyebrow. “What horizon can you possibly appreciate at midnight?”

The guest smiled. “I’ve learned that the cover of darkness always provides a superior view, providing one knows precisely what lies in the waters ahead.”

“You come to the point quickly,” said the Russian, taking his seat. “That is, of course, the reason I am here—to verify that we do know what is just ahead. We venture into perilous ‘international’ waters.”

The American leaned forward. “Mr. Secretary, our course is perfectly set. We know exactly where our vessel is going. Every detail of our voyage has been flawlessly arranged.”

“As per our discussions, I am sure.” The secretary shifted in his chair. “Your services and contacts have been invaluable. My president merely wants to make sure that there will be no interference from NATO or from the United States.”

“Your president should know better,” the visitor soothed. “He is well aware how the wind blows in America these days. There will be no intervention from the United States, the United Nations, or anyone else. In seven days the Russian Federation will be some two percent larger than it is today. And I will be some five hundred percent richer than I am today. But how uncouth! Who can put a price tag on patriotism or other noble aspirations of the heart?”

The Russian was stoic. “Setting aside the American sarcasm, my friend, Alexander Trotsky seeks a final assurance that we will encounter no unforeseen obstacles.”

“You may give Alexander Trotsky my personal pledge,” said the American as he casually lit a cigarette. “Every element in our little drama is in place—like the pieces of a brilliantly played game of chess. The checkmate is certain. There is no man on earth and no power in the universe that can stand in our way.”