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Larry Butchins

Larry Butchins

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Larry Butchins’ love affair with writing began with notebook and typewriter then grew with computer keyboard and screen. He started as a cub reporter on Durban’s Natal Mercury (now "The Mercury") , covering fires, accidents, shipping and beach news. He then moved to Johannesburg to work in the Sunday Tribune branch office, covering everything from interviewing visiting pop stars to politics and student riots. Eventually he was lured into Public Relations, working for one of South Africa’s leading PR companies before moving back to Durban to open his own PR firm.
On moving to Israel with his family in 1987, Larry branched from classical PR into Marketing Communication, running a small English-language agency promoting Israeli products abroad. He has worked with Israeli High-Tech firms for many years and is still offering his services as a Marketing Content Developer for collateral, web sites, promotional videos and exhibition support.
In addition to professional writing, Larry finds time to write articles and stories, a travel blog (http://offbeat-travel.blogspot.co.il/), a web site about his wife's quilt project arising from the Dizengoff suicide bombing (http://dizengoffquilt.wix.com/-dizengoff-quilt) and children’s books, two of which have been published; one in the United States and one in South Africa. This book is a fictionalized version of his life as a young journalist in Apartheid South Africa.
Between the lines of copy, Larry is also a professional actor and voice-over artist and is one of the founders of the Guild Theater Company of Ra’anana (Israel). He has appeared in a wide variety of roles, and won awards for his skills on stage. Regarding the art of writing, Larry quotes writer and dramatist Gene Fowler: "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."
He and his wife, former Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) Marlyn Bernstein, live in Kfar Saba north of Tel Aviv. They have three grown-up children and two grandsons.

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Train in the Distance

A journalist's search for truth, freedom...and revenge

A journalist seeks truth in apartheid South Africa; then finds revenge for loss in a terrorist attack in Israel, through a twist of fate.

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Literary Fiction
Kfar Saba, Israel
90,000 words
100% complete
3 publishers interested

Synopsis


Motivation for this Book

As a journalist in Johannesburg during the early 1970's, I covered many of the actual events fictionalized in this story. Several of the characters in the story are real-life individuals whom I interviewed, and who did many of the things ascribed to them. I felt it was important to bring a different story about apartheid-South Africa to the world. Not the usual story told from a point of view of a black person suffering under apartheid, but from that of a young, privileged white reporter with a strong social conscience, who hates what the policy is doing to his country and its people. This book has been "on the boil" for at least the past 12 years: The spark to write it arose from a personal tragedy some years earlier, in which two members of my family were killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. While the story is not specifically about that event, it does highlight the protagonist's personal conflict regarding his life-long opposition to the death penalty (one of the corner-stones of apartheid government power) and the calls by many people in Israel to impose the death penalty on those planning and supporting acts of terrorism, of which his family has been a victim. One of the motivating factors for the protagonist to move to Israel was because it has no death penalty. I felt that, with the value of hindsight and viewed from another country, I could bring a different perspective to the fight against apartheid, tyranny and hatred. I would like people to understand that the good fight anywhere in the world is predominantly fought by ordinary people who decide at some stage that enough is enough. I am hoping that Publishizer will enable me to connect with publishers and give me a platform to promote sales of the book, and hopefully arouse the interest of a movie producer. 

Dedication

For Sylvia and Gail, and the memory of all victims of apartheid and terror – they all believed that life could be better…but many never got the chance to experience it.
Message

"Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance…everybody thinks it's true
…What is the point of this story? What information pertains
? The thought that life could be better, is woven indelibly into our hearts… and our brains."
Paul Simon, Hearts and Bones © 1983
Synopsis

This based-on-fact story covers the experiences of a young journalist during the turbulent years of apartheid in mid-1970s South Africa – and personal tragedy during the first Intifada in Israel.

Adam Marks works for a weekly newspaper. He actively campaigns against the entrenched death penalty as one of the pillars of apartheid. His many probing articles – particularly a major scoop covering an interview with a leading anti-apartheid activist – constantly raise the ire of the Security police. They unsuccessfully try to nail him on trumped-up charges under the government’s anti-communist legislation.

Adam’s experiences as a reporter, include receiving personal death threats from a right wing neo-Nazi group, which is infiltrated by a close friend in a tragically flawed effort to thwart their plans for an attack on the local Jewish community.

Adam also covers the murder of three infants by their drunken father, just as his wife announces she is expecting their first child.  This prompts Adam to leave journalism for a less demanding career in Public Relations.

He rejects a huge Government contact because it would compromise his strong anti-apartheid ideals. As a result, his business is boycotted by clients with Government connections. His disillusionment with South Africa reaches a peak and he and his family leave South Africa for Israel.

But his idealistic expectations of serenity, fulfilment and personal peace are dashed when his wife's mother and sister are killed in a suicide bombing in central Tel Aviv.

This personal tragedy encourages him to accept a mission from the Mossad to expose the suicide bomber’s “paymaster”. The mission reveals betrayal by a trusted friend and fuels Adam’s subsequent quest for revenge. The aftermath leads to an ironic twist of fate.

Note:

The book has two parts

Part 1: South Africa - Years of Struggle;
Part 2: Israel - Years of Conflict.
I have provided an index of references to actual events and people, plus a glossary of Afrikaans and Hebrew words used in the story.

(C) 2015 Larry Butchins

About The Author

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa and am married with three (grown) children and two grandchildren.

In South Africa, I worked as a reporter on the Durban morning daily Natal Mercury and later the weekly Sunday Tribune, providing the inspiration for the plot of this book. I then moved to PR and am now a freelance marketing content writer.

In private life, I am a writer, actor and voice-over artist, and with a number of stage and movie appearances. I have published two children's books.

We moved to Israel in 1987.

Outline


PART ONE – SOUTH AFRICA; YEARS OF STRUGGLE

Chapter 1 – Execution in the Morning

A young journalist in 1970s South Africa, flies to Johannesburg from where he will go to Pretoria to cover the execution of an Afrikaner farm boy, Hannes van Staden, convicted of complicity in murder.

Chapter 2 – Ridge of White Waters

In Johannesburg, he meets van Staden’s highly unethical lawyer, who reluctantly arranges for him to spend the night before the execution with the convicted man’s family.

Chapter 3 – Adrenalin

Adam connects with his police contact, Captain Piet du Toit, and reminisces about how he met him and Du Toit’s rise in the ranks as an honourable, professional policeman. Du Toit helps him find the convicted man’s family.

Chapter 4 – Family Photographs

Adam travels to nearby Pretoria, a largely Afrikaans-dominated city, where he meets the convicted man’s family and is shaken by the father’s attitude towards his son’s conviction and sentencing.

Chapter 5 – Jacarandas

He accompanies the family to see the young man for the last time and spends the night with the family.

Chapter 6 – The Black Flag

Outside Pretoria Central Prison, Adam waits with other reporters for the Black Flag, signalling that the execution had taken place.

Chapter 7 – A Clenched Fist

Strolling through Johannesburg’s Bohemian neighbourhood, he meets up with Rashid Kathrada, a young Indian (Asiatic) Muslim reporter, who regarded him as his mentor. Rashid tempts him with a tip-off on a huge exclusive story.

Chapter 8 – Gopul’s Curry Emporium

Meeting at an uncommonly non-segregated eating place, Rashid tells him about the imminent arrest of Mohammed Timil, a leading anti-apartheid activist in hiding. Adam convinces Rashid to set up an interview for him.

Chapter 9 – Ode to Joy

In the small hours of the morning, Adam is contacted to meet couriers who will drive him to Timil. He is blindfolded, and driven for more than an hour into the countryside, where he meets Timil and interviews him about his plans for a post-apartheid South Africa.

Chapter 10 – Big Ben’s Auto Tune-Up

After a lengthy interview, Adam is taken back to the Johannesburg area just as dawn breaks. He is dropped off in a neighbouring town’s industrial area, here he has a confrontation with an aggressive local Afrikaner garage owner. He hails a taxi ride back to his hotel to plan his story.

Chapter 11 – John Vorster Square

Rashid is waiting for him at the hotel to tell him that Timil has just been arrested. He and Adam rush to John Vorster Square, the Johannesburg police headquarters, to try to get more information. They are later told that Timil has “committed suicide” by jumping from a 10th floor window. Adam suspects that “jumping” is a euphemism for something far more sinister.

Chapter 12 – Indians Can’t Fly

Outside John Vorster Square a crowd of unruly protestors is gathering. They are surrounded by heavily-armed riot police and the situation appears to be turning ugly. The threat of violence hangs heavily in the air and then Timil’s parents arrive to claim the body and calm the situation.

Chapter 13 – A Kruger Rand

The stories are a sensation. Adam’s by-line dominates the next edition: the execution, the interview with Timil and the report on his death and funeral. He recalls covering the funeral and his last meeting with Rashid, when he gives him a half-Kruger Rand as thanks for his help in gaining the Timil interview.

Chapter 14 – “Read All About It!”

The Timil stories infuriate the local police commander who orders Adam’s arrest for “sedition” and contravening the government’s stringent press censorship laws.

Chapter 15 – Interrogation

In the fetid police cells, Adam is interrogated all night, but refuses to give up his sources. He is then hauled into court and arraigned on serious charges under the government’s draconian anti-opposition laws, which threaten long prison sentences...or worse.

Chapter 16 – Trial by...

Together with his legal team, provided by the newspaper, Adam goes over the charges against him and prepares his defence.

Chapter 17 –The Accused Will Please Rise

The trial takes place in Pretoria, and a number of character witnesses are called in Adam’s defence; his legal team triumph by proving forgery in official documents which were the basis of the State’s case against Adam.

Chapter 18 – The Fixer

Adam marries his girlfriend, Francie; shortly afterwards he starts receiving death threats form a militant neo-Nazi group. With the support of his trusted police contact, Capt. Du Toit, he formulates a plan to have the group infiltrated.

Chapter 19 – The Horse Farm

The undercover agent who had infiltrated the group reports back on his induction into the group and its plans to attack the local Jewish community during a major communal event.

Chapter 20 – Planning

The police anti-terror unit, under Capt. Du Toit’s command, develops its own plans on how to thwart the expected attack.

Chapter 21 – A Day at the Beach

The action against the Jewish community begins, counteracted by the police operation.

Chapter 22 – Blood in the Water

The immediate aftermath of the police action has tragic consequences. Adam blames himself for the outcome. He covers the story of the events and the resulting trial and conviction of the group’s leader...leading Adam to question his own moral standpoint on capital punishment.

Chapter 23 – The End of the Beginning

Adam writes and plans to publish his own manifesto regarding the situation in South Africa and his hopes and dreams for change. Francie hints a way to make a real change...on a deeply personal level.

Chapter 24 – Rock-a-bye-Baby

While contemplating his future, Adam is called to cover the deaths of three infants, shot in their crib by their drunken father. His revulsion at the crime is strengthened by Francie telling him that she is pregnant, vindicating his difficult decision to leave

journalism.

Chapter 25 – Decisions, Decisions…

After the story of the family murder appears, and Adam has deep-seated doubts about his chosen profession, Francie confronts him with her plan for a life-changing option.

Chapter 26 – Decisions Made

The decision is made to leave journalism. Adam opens a high profile PR agency handling large companies, in conjunction with pro bono work for organizations opposed to government policies. He is offered a major government agency contract, but turns it down due to his anti-apartheid sentiments.

Chapter 27 – Après moi, le déluge

Following his decision to turn down the government contract, many of his major clients start leaving his firm, which is then served with a notice of eviction from its office. The decision is made for him: he and his family will emigrate to Israel. 

PART TWO – ISRAEL; YEARS OF CONFLICT

Chapter 28 – The Spider Hole

Many years later, Adam is watching TV coverage of US troops capturing Saddam Hussein. He recalls the first Gulf War and how his young family dealt with the fear of being targets for Scud missiles, suspected of carrying biological weapons.

Chapter 29 – The Land of Milk and Honey

Adam reflects on what brought him and his family to Israel, how they coped with their integration and assimilation into a totally foreign culture. He remembers his meeting with a British immigrant which laid the foundation for his new business venture, just prior to the first Gulf War.

Chapter 30 – The Birth of Hope; the Death of Hope

The end of the Gulf war brings unexpected gains for Adam’s business. The Oslo accords, and the Peace treaty with Jordan enable him to form an alliance with a Jordanian advertising agency. At the same time, Mandela is released from jail in South Africa and it looks like the entire world is entering a new phase of Peace just prior to the millennium. Hopes are dashed with assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the increase in terror activities during the first intifada.

Chapter 31 – The Scent of Orange Blossoms

An early spring day in central Tel Aviv as Israel prepares to celebrate the carnival festival of Purim, Israel’s version of the Mardi Gras. Francie’s mother, Sonya and sister, Janice, recently arrived in Israel, go to Tel Aviv to meet Janice’s daughter who is being fitted for wedding dress. The festival spirit is about to be shattered in a tragic way.

Chapter 32 – Waiting

A suicide bomber has blasted the centre of Tel Aviv, at the precise location where Janice and Sonya were believed to have been. The family spends anxious hours waiting for them to return home; expecting a phone calls, hoping for a news report...but it is only shortly after midnight that the awful truth becomes known.

Chapter 33 – Israeli Gold

In the aftermath of the bombing, the family experiences Israelis enshrouding them in love. They begin to understand that despite their outwardly often coarse behaviour, Israelis are caring and deeply concerned for, and attuned to individual pain. Some months after the bombing, Adam is contacted by a potential client. He finds out that there is more to this “client” than he initially believes.

Chapter 34 – The London Banker

It transpires that the “client” is actually the Mossad, encouraging Adam to work with them and gain the opportunity of exposing a Lebanese banker in London, who is believed to be the “paymaster” for suicide bombers.

Chapter 35 – The Briefing

Adam accepts the assignment and is briefed on what is expected of him. He will use his Jordanian contacts to help get access to the banker, on the pretext of doing an interview for a magazine running a story on Middle Eastern finance.

Chapter 36 – The Interview

He flies to London and sets up an appointment with the banker. On entering the banker’s private office suite, Adam receives the shock of his life.

Chapter 37 – In the Lion’s Den

The banker turns out to be Rashid, the young Indian reporter who had been Adam’s friend and confidant in Johannesburg all those years ago. Rashid moved to Lebanon and embraced radical Islam. He is now Saddam Hussein’s conduit to channel funds to suicide bombers and their families. Adam confronts him about his role in the deaths of Francie’s mother and sister. Rashid suspects Adam is working with the Mossad and within a day of the meeting has left London.

Chapter 37 – Mission Accomplished

On his return to Israel, Adam is debriefed and told that Rashid is now back in Iraq, under Saddam’s protection. A plan is hatched to capture Rashid in Iraq and bring him to Israel for trial.

Chapter 38 – Undercover…with biltong

The Mossad has devised a plot whereby Adam will lead a group of South African “businessmen” to Iraq to offer fibre-optic technology to the Iraqi military. Rashid is expected to be the point-man for the Iraqi delegation

Chapter 39 – By the Rivers of Babylon

Everything goes as planned with the “businessmen” – actually former South African Jewish immigrants working in the Mossad – acting like typical boorish South Africans, demanding alcohol, women and red meat. When it comes to meeting the Iraqis to make their “offer”, they capture Rashid, smuggle him across the Kuwaiti border and fly him aboard a disguised cargo plane to Israel.

Chapter 40 – Capture

If Rashid is convicted of being the banker for suicide bombers, he will face life imprisonment – there being no death penalty in Israel. He will also be the primary witness in a civil court action instituted by Adam’s family, suing the Palestinian authority for millions of dollars for the deaths of Sonya and Janice. Getting Rashid to testify to his role will help their case.

Chapter 41 – The Supreme Penalty?

Adam is asked by numerous people, and the media, if he wishes Rashid could get the death penalty. He is torn now between his personal experiences and his idealism, but holds fast to his beliefs that the death penalty is wrong. Two nights before Rashid is due to appear in court there is a breakout of the Har Megiddo prison where Rashid is being held. He is one of the escapees…and is never captured. It is suspected that he made his way back to Iraq via Jordan.

Chapter 42 – A Small Gold Coin

Years later, as the Second Gulf War winds to a close there is a report of the deaths of a number of Iraqi Ba'ath party officials in the bombing of a suspected hideout near Mosul. One of the bodies cannot be identified. But a strange personal effect is found in his clothing...a small gold coin, bearing the bushy-bearded profile of Paul Kruger…the same half-Krugerrand gold coin Adam Marks gave Rashid for the Timil tip-off some 30 years before.

Audience


Who This Book Is Written For

Target audience: Adult, male/female across the board readers.Reader Characteristics: Enquiring readers...who enjoy intrigue, adventure, political thrillers and fictionalized history/autobiographies, particularly regarding recent South African and Middle East events.

Author


Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Larry Butchins’ love affair with writing began with notebook and typewriter then grew with computer keyboard and screen. He started as a cub reporter on Durban’s Natal Mercury (now "The Mercury") , covering fires, accidents, shipping and beach news. He then moved to Johannesburg to work in the Sunday Tribune branch office, covering everything from interviewing visiting pop stars to politics and student riots. Eventually he was lured into Public Relations, working for one of South Africa’s leading PR companies before moving back to Durban to open his own PR firm.

On moving to Israel with his family in 1987, Larry branched from classical PR into Marketing Communication, running a small English-language agency promoting Israeli products abroad. He has worked with Israeli High-Tech firms for many years and is still offering his services as a Marketing Content Developer for collateral, web sites, promotional videos and exhibition support.
In addition to professional writing, Larry finds time to write articles and stories, a travel blog (http://offbeat-travel.blogspot.co.il/), a web site about his wife's quilt project arising from the Dizengoff suicide bombing (http://dizengoffquilt.wix.com/-dizengoff-quilt) and children’s books, two of which have been published; one in the United States and one in South Africa. This book is a fictionalized version of his life as a young journalist in Apartheid South Africa.
Between the lines of copy, Larry is also a professional actor and voice-over artist and is one of the founders of the Guild Theater Company of Ra’anana (Israel). He has appeared in a wide variety of roles, and won awards for his skills on stage. Regarding the art of writing, Larry quotes writer and dramatist Gene Fowler: "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."
He and his wife, former Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) Marlyn Bernstein, live in Kfar Saba north of Tel Aviv. They have three grown-up children and two grandsons.

Promotion


Personal marketing plan: 
Web site, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other social media, Book tour, home reading evenings and speaking engagements in the US, Europe, South Africa and Australia. Radio, TV and magazine/newspaper appearances.

Publishing Plan: As wide a distribution as possible, to create a buzz and expand knowledge of life in that era in South Africa and Israel to a wider audience. All main line publishers would be appropriate, but I would also like to find a publisher who has connections to film producers as I feel the plot could become an exciting and compelling movie. 
Current status of the manuscript:  Close to completion - 90%. The final manuscript will be in the region of 90,000 words, about 42 chapters, totaling approximately 270 pages. 
Funds Sought: $10,000 is needed to cover initial production and publishing costs.

Competition


1. Frontiers by Noel Mostert The story of the 18th- and 19th-century wars between whites and the Xhosa nation. Over 1,000 pages of fascinating detail that helps to explain the origins of the apartheid state.
2. Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk A brilliant, grim comedy about a dysfunctional white family washed up by recent history.

3. A Rainbow On The Paper Sky by Mandla Langa A journey into the time of armed struggle. A poet's-eye view from the ground.

4. Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer Nobel prize-winner Gordimer examines the costs of commitment paid by the family of a white anti-apartheid activist. A gripping view of a world that has now disappeared.

5. Amandla by Miriam Tlali (1980) On the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the 1976 student uprisings, Miriam Tlali’s novel, focuses on the experiences of a group of Soweto characters across the autumn and winter of 1976. 

My book is different in that it retells, albeit in a novelized form, actual events experienced by an idealistic journalist, fighting in his own way against apartheid. Rather than telling the South African story from the point-of-view of an oppressed black character, this story is told from the point of view of a young, privileged white man who hates what the government's policies are doing to his country and its people and who sees himself as a White victim of apartheid. It then arcs to the situation in Israel, bringing tragic events to the reader's attention...and then linking vents in both environments in a strange twist of fate. Novelized truth, creating impact.   

Attachments

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  • Update #1 - Train in he Distance Sept. 30, 2016
    The "Train" has just taken on another very important passenger! I'm delighted to announce that I have just engaged former top Hollywood novel and ...

  • Elana Sher on May 6, 2016, 3:04 p.m.

    Can't wait to read it ... B'Hatzlecha

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