Author Interview with Ron Barak

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I just finished a highly enjoyable read of The Amendment Killer, a political and legal thriller by fascinating bestselling author Ron Barak that will be out in stores everywhere this November. I then had the chance to sit down and visit with Ron, someone I would describe as a most unique and unusual kind of novelist, one you will want to add to your reading list if he’s not already there.

Lynne: Good morning, Ron. On your website (www.ronaldsbarak.com), you brand yourself as blurring the lines of reality and fiction. You might say the handwriting was on the wall. Or at least the writing. What exactly do you mean by this brand?

Ron: Hi Lynne. It’s simple, really. First and foremost, I always like to write highly paced, tense, and engaging novels. At the same time, however, I always attempt to have my fiction relate to timely real world events—more often than not the political dysfunction engulfing our country today. I like to entertain, of course, but I also like to provoke my readers to apply what I write to reality. Their reality.

Lynne: You have a storied background (pun intended), first an accomplished sports figure and then an honors law student. You won the 1964 NCAA All-Around Gymnastics Championships and earned a spot on the 1964 Olympic team. Following your sports days, you turned to law school. Was there some connection between the two?

Ron: You mean transitioning from physical gymnastics to mental gymnastics? Not in the beginning. I was a physics major in college. I like thinking in the abstract but I can’t change a light bulb. I figured I needed to look for something else.

Fate brought me back to my athletic background. Honor students in many law schools who also demonstrate an ability to write are invited to become members of the school’s Law Review, a student publication, which requires you to publish an article that has something to do with the law.

During my sports days, I had seen firsthand the damage that the decades-old clash between the NCAA and the AAU to control amateur sports in the U.S. (there still were amateurs back then) was wreaking on the U.S. amateur sports scene and, particularly on the athletes who wanted to play in that national and international sandbox. I thought it would be nice if I could satisfy my Law Review duties by seeking to put the NCAA-AAU dispute to an end once and for all. So I published an article on this interminable row between the U.S. sports world’s Hatfields and McCoys.

Lynne: Not wanting just to write about the matter, you proposed a specific solution. You drafted and appended to your published Law Review article a model Congressional bill that would supersede the NCAA and the AAU and their jurisdictional squabbles with a new sports governing body to be commissioned by Congress itself. What happened with that?

Ron: The dean of our law school, Dorothy Nelson, who is now a 9th Circuit Court of Appeal judge, was acquainted with then Vice President Hubert Humphrey. She brought my article and proposed legislation to his attention. Within months, the U.S. Senate introduced a formal bill in Congress based on my proposal. As the bill awaited a Senate vote and expected follow-on consideration by the House of Representatives, the NCAA and the AAU decided it would be in their best interests to resolve the matter before Congress and the President might choose to do so and they very quickly settled their decades-long battle.

Lynne: So, the die was cast. During your years of law practice, your focus changed from sports governance to political governance, the victims of a questionable system now our citizenry in general and not merely our athletes.  What was your thinking about that?

Ron: Well, like many Americans, I found myself dismayed by a bunch of selfish, dysfunctional, and opportunistic politicians on both sides of the aisle who call themselves “leaders.” Millions of Americans today want to see this bedlam ended once and for all. But our voters seem unable to force any kind of meaningful solution. I thought if pragmatic action could resolve the NCAA-AAU dispute, maybe pragmatic action could help improve the state of our political system.

Lynne: And so, you crafted another pragmatic solution against all odds, this time a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizing political abuse and corruption?

Ron: I decided to borrow from my old Law Review days, killing two birds with one stone. I was looking for my next novel. I thought why not write a story about a hypothetical Constitutional amendment seeking to rein in our abusive and corrupt politicians. And like I did with the NCAA-AAU mess, I decided to actually write a real-world amendment to our Constitution. It was actually not that hard to do.

Lynne: Well, maybe not so hard for someone with your legal background.  Revisiting your Law Review days, it seems like you’ve now found still another written vehicle to advance your pragmatic ideas, specifically your highly charged and entertaining political and legal thrillers. What can you tell us, then about, your latest, The Amendment Killer?

Ron: Sure. In The Amendment Killer, an organization committed to political reform, organizes a Constitutional convention, and adopts a hypothetical 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizing political abuse and corruption, making sure that our representatives will dearly pay the price if they continue to forget they are there to serve and not to be served. Alarmed, Congress asks the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the amendment. Wanting to control the outcome of the expedited case the Supreme Court agrees to hear and decide in one week because of its importance, some mysterious group kidnaps the 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court justice who holds the swing vote in the case.

Lynne: The Amendment Killer is a great piece of fiction. I can tell you that first hand. From the horrifying opening scene, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one weekend. But can “we the people” actually amend the U.S. Constitution without the support, and indeed over the certain objections, of Congress?

Ron: Many, perhaps most, superficially think the answer to that question is no, Lynne. Just ask Congress. However, the answer is not as obvious as might appear at first blush, beginning with the written discussions of this very question back when our Constitution was first being debated and enacted by our Constitutional framers some 230 years ago.

Lynne: Maybe yes, maybe no. No spoilers here. For the specifics, readers will want to read Ron’s exciting The Amendment Killer. Just as he did with his Law Review article many years ago, Ron doesn’t just tell a story that blurs the lines of fiction and reality, he also offers the precise language to follow up and get the job done, in this case, his proposed 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You can see Ron’s proposed 28th Amendment right now, at www.ronaldsbarak.com/28th-amendment-page-2. And while you’re at it, you might also want to check out his periodic blogs commenting insightfully on the day-to-day shortcomings of our political representatives. You can find Ron’s blogs at www.ronaldsbarak.com/blog.

Ron: Thanks, Lynne. Nice plug.

Lynne: You’re welcome, Ron, but not so fast. At the same time as Ron pens his political and legal thrillers (The Amendment Killer will be released this November 2017, its prequel, The Puppet Master, will be released in Spring 2018) from his home in Pacific Palisades, California, which his wife, Barbie, and the four-legged members of their family, are kind enough to share with him, Ron is also a committed and strident advocate for finding a cure for diabetes, the condition that afflicts the kidnapped youngster in The Amendment Killer. It is no coincidence that Ron is himself diabetic and that he has committed 50% of the net proceeds of The Amendment Killer to diabetes research and education. Nice touch, Ron. Now you can thank me.

Ron: Absolutely. Thanks again for the nice visit, Lynne.

 

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