| NEW YORK, Sept 4
NEW YORK, Sept 4 Take a disgraced reporter
desperate for a comeback and a tip about new evidence in the
assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and you have
"The Kennedy Connection," a crime thriller written by a media
insider fascinated with one of the defining moments of American
Veteran American journalist R.G. Belsky's career includes
stints as metropolitan news editor at the New York Post
newspaper and managing editor of the New York Daily News, where
his latest work of fiction is set.
He spoke to Reuters about the inspiration for "The Kennedy
Connection," its colorful cast of journalists, and those
tantalizing "What if's?"
Q: Have you always been interested in the Kennedy
A: I am old enough that I was a freshman in college when JFK
was assassinated. It's clearly one of the three days of infamy
in America: Pearl Harbor, JFK and 9/11. The Kennedy
assassination was just one person and it is fascinating that it
had so much impact because, having been there, it really did
change history. I was always thinking about that. Years later in
the 1980s, I read Anthony Summers' book 'Conspiracy,' and it
kind of laid out all the facts. And I suddenly realized that I
questioned a lot.
I really am not a conspiracy nut! I just don't believe the
Warren Commission. I don't believe Lee Harvey Oswald did it on
his own. I don't know what happened. So when I wanted to write
the book, I thought, "What if?" What if I could say Lee Harvey
Oswald didn't do it? Writing fiction, that gave me a real
Q: How did you come up with the angle of Lee Harvey Oswald
having a secret son?
A: I loved the idea that Oswald had an affair and that there
was this kid who grows up and suddenly realizes he is the son of
the most infamous person in America. But the real impetus for me
was the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination last year.
I have written mysteries and suspense stories before but as the
50th anniversary approached, I thought, "Wow, wouldn't it be
really good if I could have a bunch of murders in present-day
New York that somehow were pegged to the anniversary."
Q: You have written crime books before, based around a
newsroom, but for this book you created a new reporter. Why was
A: A number of my previous characters were women. I tended
to write women because they were more interesting. They had more
things they had to overcome (in the workplace). With this book,
I just came up with this reporter, Gil Malloy, and he is
basically a very talented, moral guy who screwed up. He goes one
step too far and it's wrong and he knows it's wrong. But his
desire to have the big story overcomes his common sense in that
one instance. And the book is about how as a journalist you can
do everything right but if you screw up once, you pay for it.
Q: Malloy talks at one point about the media being a more
forgiving place than it used to be, regarding plagiarism and
mistakes. Do you think that is true?
A: I do. I think partly because everything is so quick now.
When you made a mistake in a newspaper a long time ago, the
newspaper would sit out on the stands for 24 hours.
Q: You have worked for several news organizations, but it
seems like your heart is really with newspapers?
A: Yeah, yeah. I think it always will be. Part of it, I
suppose, is a generational thing. I am one of those people who
when I was 10 years old and people would say, "What do you want
to be? A fireman, a cowboy?" And I would say a newspaper
reporter. I had no idea why.
Working at a newspaper, there is something really pure and
noble about it and I try and convey that. A lot of people say,
it is (noble) if you work for the New York Times or the Wall
Street Journal. But at the New York Post, I met some of the most
talented, ethical, honest people I have ever met and the same at
the Daily News. ... My characters all have that same love for
newspapers - the drive to get the big story and the fun of
working in a newsroom every day.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Patricia Reaney and