Adventure, dead bodies, plot twists, and a love story | PostIndependent.com

Adventure, dead bodies, plot twists, and a love story

Kelley Cox Post Independent

NEW CASTLE, Colorado – Local writer James D. Kellogg has just published his first novel – part mystery, part love story, with a cast of characters that would do any action novel proud:

• A pair of sociopathic thugs posing as environmental activists and leaders of a band of eco-terrorists, but with a very devious and deadly agenda all their own.

• A deluded troop of shallow, sometimes greedily ambitious enviro-crats (environmental bureaucrats), in a small but very visible group called EcoFriends.

• The leader of EcoFriends, a charismatic man who appeared virtually out of nowhere to create the organization and make it a prominent player in the nonprofit world nearly overnight, but has a secret side that no one has guessed.

• An industrialist and developer of ski areas with a heart of gold, a steely grip on his corporate subordinates and a deep, long-standing friendship with a certain conservative Colorado senator working to stop a campaign finance reform bill (no party affiliation is given).

• A shadowy media mogul whose involvement in all the above-mentioned organizations is the subject of internal confusion as well as reader doubt.

• A hardy young idealist with conservative leanings who works for EcoFriends but is worried that the organization, and his own little world, are both about to veer off the tracks of a once-stable existence.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the opening gambit of “E-Force,” published initially as an e-book by Wild Child Publishing.

From the opening pages, in which E-Force, a small group of decidedly destructive environmental activists, blows up a mountaintop lodge at a Colorado ski resort, the book rolls along at a quick pace.

Further acts of destruction are interspersed with chapters about the characters, their roles in the overall drama, and a budding romance between two of them.

The reader gets hints of an underlying plan, replete with vicious political means to a morally bankrupt end, that are behind the acts of eco-terrorism.

By comparison, the hapless, left-leaning ecological activists in the story, as well as a couple of aggressively ambitious media types, are truly in over their heads, proving to be inept and clueless.

At the same time, the philosophies and feelings of the industrialist, whose enterprises are the target of this eco-terrorist campaign, come across as well-meaning and honorable, hard-boiled but honest, and generally on the side of good.

Kellogg, 42, writes a column for the Post Independent with the title “Right Angles,” which gives the reader an idea of his own political philosophy.

He is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech to the rest of us), a 12-year resident of the Glenwood Springs area, an engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources, a father of four, and husband to Krista, a Colorado native.

An outdoor adventure enthusiast, he has written into the plot a number of activities he has engaged in over the years, including skiing, kayaking and rock climbing.

The idea for the book, Kellogg told the Post Independent in a recent interview at a local coffee shop, came to him after he worked for a summer at the Denali Backcountry Lodge in Alaska in 1995 and spent considerable time in political debates with his fellow workers.

“That got me thinking about a lot of things,” he recalled, “but mostly about the power of the media” in shaping and directing the political debate and social agenda of the United States.

It wasn’t until several years later that his thinking gelled into a plan for the novel.

“The book,” he said, choosing his words carefully, “is not so much a political book as it is about how we are all influenced by the media.”

“It’s about people that ultimately have to think for themselves and step up and try to do the right thing,” he added.

Kellogg resists attempts to cast the book as slanted in favor of corporate and politically conservative interests.

“It’s really about people being used,” he said, by the sociopathic enviro-terroists and their handlers.

But he admitted that his target audience leans to the right.

“In all honesty, that was [the intended audience],” he said. “I believe the conservative side of things is certainly the way I’d like to see the country go.”

He bridles somewhat at any suggestion that he is trying to paint liberals in a bad light, noting that he has a number of liberal friends with whom he argues and debates openly and happily.

“It’s really a book about forgiveness, or redemption,” he said. It’s in keeping with the fact that, at several points in the book, the characters turn to God and religious faith as a way to deal with the adversity they are facing.

The main goal of the book, he said, is to entertain.

“And I want people to think – are people really like that? Or, hey, this is an important issue.”

Once sales have passed the threshold of a few hundred e-books, the publisher will shift to printing on paper.

Kellogg plans to promote the e-book himself, with a Facebook page, media interviews and other methods.

Once the novel is in print, he plans to proceed with book signings and other more traditional methods.

jcolson@postindependent.com