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politics is front and center. When a sitting president has his roots in this
sullied political heritage, it makes for news and leads to speculation. Not Black And White is a fictional
account of many of the events that led to the meteoric rise of a local
charismatic street politician to become America's first African-American
President, and the downfall and imprisonment of two consecutive governors of
the State of Illinois, along with several of their most trusted advisors and
cohorts. This story puts the reader inside the campaign offices and
smoke-filled back rooms where political deals are made. It depicts the rise and
fall of a Syrian immigrant who made millions by pretending he had billions,
while charming his way into the highest halls of wealth and power. The
perspective of a local attorney/businessman who found himself in a front row
seat to politics-as-usual in The City That Works is reflected throughout the
story. The cast of characters may appear familiar to anyone who ever read a
headline or watched cable news and talk shows across the country.
1994, a freak traffic accident occurred, killing a family of six young children
when their van burst into flames after being struck by a semi-trailer truck
driven by a man unqualified to drive such a vehicle. The truck driver, a victim
himself, had bribed an employee of the Illinois secretary of state's office in
order to procure his commercial driver's license. The tragic accident and
resulting exposé of corruption and scandal that followed changed forever the
course of American History. Inspired by true events, NOT BLACK AND WHITE leaves it to the reader to interpret fact from
A. Beller is a self-professed political junkie who enjoyed a long and
lucrative career in the investment industry before diving in to his true
passion of storytelling. NOT BLACK AND
WHITE: From The Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is his first
In 2013, Beller established GABE Advisors, LLC to invest in and encourage
literary projects in creative collaboration with aspiring authors.
& A with G. A. BELLER
Author of "NOT BLACK AND WHITE"
From the Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
35 years in the investment business, what has driven you to become adebut
Throughout my career
in the investment business, I advanced my knowledge of financial markets and
the global political decisions which drive their directions and trends. I was
determined to understand politics on not only the local level, but on the
national and global levels as well. The more I read, the more I formed strong
opinions, and those strong opinions fueled my desire to write. This passion to
write had been on the back burner until I was able to devote the time to make
becoming a serious writer my priority. Now that time has finally come, and I
intend to become a relevant writer as my new primary career.
Q. So much of the material
in NOT BLACK AND WHITE is ripped from
the headlines and features actual events with real people. Why did you choose
to publish this book as fiction?
I don't believe the
articles in newspapers or online are necessarily accurate. Additionally, many
publications have their own agendas, and therefore the information in the
articles may be biased. Though I primarily used these previous writings to
formulate the basis for the story of Not Black And White, I was unwilling
to accept the information as accurate or factual. I don't think anyone is
capable of telling this story as non-fiction. As an aspiring writer, when I
started this book I wanted to create excitement and entertainment, which
required a great deal of speculation. My creative juices took over, and I chose
to fictionalize the characters and events with my goal to provide the reader
with an entertaining novel. I also wanted to challenge the reader to use their
imagination to determine fact from fiction.
Q. How much of the action (and characters) in NOT BLACK AND WHITE is true and how much
has been fictionalized?
Since the story is
loosely based upon the true characters and events, and I question many of the facts
as previously written, I am speculating on how the stories played out. I cannot
say with certainty, nor am I willing to share my opinion, as to what events
actually happened as written.
Q. In order to write this
book, you must have had access to a wealth of inside knowledge and background
information that the average “Joe,” outside the halls of power, would not be
privy to. What can you tell us about your sources?
As I stated in the
Author's Notes, my resources for this book were the many articles written about
this time in history. The story is totally speculation enhanced by my curiosity
and imagination and applied to prior written accounts of characters and events.
Q. Many folks will compare your book to Joe
Klein's PRIMARY COLORS. How are the two
books similar/different? Would you compare your novel to any other political
Joe Klein's Primary
Colors was, in my opinion, a very entertaining book. Mr. Klein used the
fictionalized accounting of characters and events to write his novel. Obviously,
that strategy was the same for Not Black And White, and the subject
content of both books is politics during a specific time in history. The
similarity ends with that strategy for telling the story. I cannot think of
another novel or political thriller that would compare to either book.
Q. You have stated publicly
that you voted for Obama in the 2008 election. How has your view of President
Obama changed since researching and writing NOT
BLACK AND WHITE?
I did vote for
President Obama in 2008. I did my best to avoid any personal perspective
relating to my political views. My writing of Not Black And White did
not influence my personal opinion of Obama. My views of Obama have, however,
been formulated based upon the actions and policies of the President and his
administration during the past six years.
Q. Do you associate with a
particular political party? How has your affiliation changed over time, and, in
particular, after writing this book?
affiliation was not affected by the writing of this book. I strongly believe
that both major parties are too extreme. I do not affiliate with either party,
and would like to see a truly credible candidate represent an independent third
party. The independent vote is critical for either party to win a presidential
election. Additionally, it appears that the size of that vote is growing, as
more voters are becoming dissatisfied with the major party base and their
political platforms. Hopefully, someday the political process will offer an
electable third party candidate to represent the independent voters.
Q. What does the phrase
"Chicago-style politics" mean to you? What makes Chicago unique in the realm of
politics and power?
Chicago is one of the
most difficult cities to govern for a number of reasons. It might be the most
diverse city in the country, as it became a melting pot for immigrants of all
nationalities. Settlers from around the globe have established neighborhoods.
The city became a major center for trade, creating labor and cultural
challenges since the 19th century. To this day, labor unions dominate the
political landscape. Additionally, organized crime has been associated with
Chicago for as long as I can remember.
doesn't stand alone in the challenges of crime and corruption in politics, its
mayors have been challenged to make it “The City that Works." The
political machines in Chicago and Illinois have been at the center of media
coverage for over a century. "Chicago-style politics" has earned its
reputation by those in power playing by their own rules, which in many cases
has landed numerous political figures in front of the cameras on their way to
prison. Not Black And White depicts a prime example of just such an era
in Chicago-style politics.
Q. What would have to
happen for our political system to change and corruptionto lessen?
corrupts. In many cases, the temptation to participate is overwhelming, even
for a politician who starts out with good intentions. My suggestions would not
totally solve the problem of ill-intentioned power seekers, but they would not
be influenced by the need to raise campaign funds from these special interest
groups. First of all, I would overhaul the rules governing the funding of
political campaigns at all levels. As idealistic as this sounds, I would
eliminate all lobbyists. I would rewrite campaign finance law so that no one
may contribute to any candidate. Political candidates would receive a fixed
amount of taxpayer dollars, with every qualifying candidate receiving the same
allotment. Debates would be sponsored by TV stations and paid for by the
taxpayer. A specific program would be defined and apply to each election. If
lobbying and campaign funding by individuals and special interest groups were
altered, as I am suggesting, the cost to the taxpayers would be a small
fraction of the cost which ripples through the economy when the special
interest groups pass along the cost of their agendas to the consumers. A prime
example is Big Pharma and the healthcare lobby. My suggested program would
clearly mitigate the corruption to the great benefit of the citizens of the
United States at every level.
Q. What projects
are on tap for G. A. Beller?
I am co-authoring a
second novel, which is about a childless couple that sponsors a young girl from
India through a national children's fund. It's based upon a true story, taking readers
on a miracle ride spanning a thirty-five year period. The reader will experience
the changes to the lives of the main characters and hundreds of thousands of
others. This novel will be the first in the Defining
Karma™ book series, and will be an ongoing program for G. Anton Publishing.
Q. You havetravelled
extensively,but have chosen to live
in Chicago for over twenty-five years.
What attracts you to select Chicago as your home?
I have spent extended
periods of time in many cities around the country. There are a number of reasons I choose to make
Chicago my home. For anyone who has
visited Chicago, and particularly in the spring, summer and fall, I don’t have
to explain the attraction of the city.
The city life offers an affordable lifestyle in a beautiful, clean urban
environment. The arts, entertainment and
dining options are extensive. The city
is known as “The City that Works," and I find this to be true. The transportation options throughout the
metropolitan Chicago area, as well as its proximity to two major airports,
makes Chicago's accessibility to world travel second to none, in my
opinion. Additionally, I find the Midwestern
attitude and mentality, as evidenced by the friends I’ve made, better than
anywhere else in the country. I love
visiting New York and California, but for a home base, I choose Chicago.
Q. You call yourself a political junkie, and you
are obviously well read, tell us what you read regularly, and add to that books
you find to be among your favorites.
I subscribe to about
thirty publications a month. I consider
myself a serial reader of newsletters, both political and financial. I regularly read the Washington Post,The Wall
Street Journal, The New York Times,
The Financial Times, USA Today, Chicago Crain’s as well as the two local Chicago newspapers. I read The
Economist, and alternate between a number of monthly magazines, roughly
eight to ten when I am home, and more when I travel. I read daily postings on many websites and
from bloggers, and I subscribe to at least a dozen daily online
newsletters. I estimate I spend a
minimum of two hours a day during the week and roughly three to four hours on
To name a few books I
enjoyed these past few years, I would include 2030 by Albert Brooks; Game
Changer, The Amateur by Edward Klein, as well as a number of biographies,
which I typically read when I travel. My
favorite novel is The Power of One by
I'm a political
junkie. The idea for this book came out of the constant media reminders of
political shenanigans – national, state, and local – as well as the nonstop
negative campaigning filling the airwaves, our voice mails, and our mailboxes.
This constant flow fuels my desire to write.
I was intrigued when
a relatively obscure local politician raised his standing to the national stage
almost overnight and was instantly embraced by the voters to become our first
African-American president. I, too, was captivated by his charm and charisma as
I enthusiastically cast my vote.
Living in Chicago,
surrounded by a history of political corruption and incompetence in our state
politics, my curiosity prompted me to research this specific era of rampant
criminal behavior – a time when it appeared things couldn't get worse. As our
convicted politicians and their cronies were being released from prison, I
decided to utilize articles that appeared in the press and on the internet to
create a fictionalized accounting of the characters and events, and I depict,
through my imagination, how things might have played out.