Wil Mara’s thriller
Frame 232 (Tyndale House) gives readers a plausible yet fictional take at what may have happened the day JFK was assassinated. The book will appeal to history buffs and conspiracy theorists alike, while also taking readers on a fast-paced and suspenseful ride.
Q: The premise of this novel, Frame 232, is
incredibly fascinating: finally solving one of America’s biggest mysteries—what
really happened the day JFK died. What inspired this particular take on
the events of that day?
been intrigued by the Kennedy assassination all my life. I cannot remember a
time when it didn’t loom over America with that long shadow. It was one
incident on one day that occurred within a few seconds—and
yet nothing in this country (or, really, the world) has been the same. I still
find that staggering.
what inspired the particular angle I decided to write about, the
initial bolt came in 2003 while I was watching a documentary on the
assassination (on the History Channel, of course—around early November of each
year, they should really change the name to the JFK Assassination Channel) and
I first heard about this mysterious figure in Dealey Plaza called “the Babushka
Lady”—someone who was standing very close to the limousine when the president
was struck and who possibly filmed the shooting. And yet, to this day, she has
never been identified, and her film has never been seen. Once I’d heard about that,
the second part of the inspirational tandem followed: What if her film turned
up today? What if it contained something that made us look at the assassination
in a whole new light? Something that started us down the road, at last, to the
answers that have been sought by a generation? And, perhaps most important,
what if there were still people alive—powerful, ruthless, and plainly evil
people—who wanted to make sure those answers remained buried?
how this book got started.
Q: Most people have never heard of the Babushka Lady,
who is an important character in your book and was also a real-life witness to
the JFK assassination. How did you hear about her, and did you immediately
know you wanted to write that story?
answered the gist of this question in my response to the last one, but I’m so
glad you pointed out the crucial fact that the Babushka Lady was a real person. Some readers may go through
Frame 232 believing that she is
merely a product of the imagination—but, in fact, she was as real as you or I,
and for all I know, she may still be alive and well. It’s important to note
that this story is a blend of fact
and fiction and that I haven’t altered any of the established facts concerning
the assassination. What I did here, and what I plan to do with all the books in
this series, is honor the truths as we know them, then fill in the gaps with
fiction. And not just any fiction, but plausible
fiction—fiction that has been extrapolated from the facts and therefore offers
the reader a realistic and more emotionally powerful impact.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your main character,
Jason Hammond? Why is he a good character for a series?
is, at his core, a good-hearted and morally conscientious individual who
experienced a horrific tragedy that resulted in massive personal losses, and he’s
now trying to make sense of it all. He was raised to be a devoted Christian and
is still as much of a believer as ever, but now he struggles to make sense of
his faith in light of his suffering. His personal story arc is a huge one—it
will span many books—and this makes him not only a fascinating character but
also a touchstone for the average reader. His fundamental struggle is very relatable.
Who among us has not asked the Lord, “Why? Why did this happen? How could you
permit this to be?” Questioning God’s actions does not make you a nonbeliever;
it simply makes you a human being. Jason’s reactions to his situation are
wholly and patently human, and I hope readers gain some insight into the epic
challenge of retaining our beliefs in the face of grim reality by following him
in his quest. He will travel around the world in search of answers to the
greatest mysteries of our time—that’s the adventurous, suspenseful part of
these books—but his biggest trials will occur in his heart and soul.
Q: What can we expect for the future of the Jason
book in the group, The Nevada Testament,
picks up about six weeks after the events of Frame 232 and, at least on the surface, concerns the lost will of
Howard Hughes. But, of course, there is much more to it than that. I’m writing
it now and am quite pleased with the way it’s rolling out. After that, I’ll be
putting together the third one, which will probably be called Gardner Island. What makes that story
interesting is that it takes place before
the events of Frame 232 and will thus
give us a firsthand look at some of Hammond’s darker and more harrowing days.
Beyond all that, I have partially developed ideas for several other stories,
including the follow-up to The Nevada
Testament, which looks as though it’ll begin almost immediately after Nevada closes. So this is very exciting
Q: Since this book has a strong historical platform,
what sort of research did you conduct?
said before, the initial inspiration for Frame
232 came in 2003. That, then, is ten years, on and off, that I’ve been
putting this accursed thing together! In that time, I can’t tell you how many
books and articles I read, how many photographs I pored over, and how many assassination
experts I spoke with. Again, it’s important to honor the established facts in
all of these books, so extensive research is critical. When you go to leave a
building, you don’t walk to a wall; you walk to a door. That’s what I need to
know in this series: where the walls are and where the doors are. That is what
will afford me the opportunity to give readers the most realistic, and thus most
exciting, stories possible.