Mason Freshman Publishes Sci-Fi-Political Thriller

Posted: January 3, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

Not every college freshman can count a published book as one of his life’s accomplishments. But Elliott Kashner can. A double major in government and international politics and economics at Mason, Kashner and his classmate from middle school, Greg Wagman, collaborated for four years on The Eagle’s Crest, a 300-page “Tom Clancyesque” novel of mystery and intrigue set 30 years into the future. As Kashner describes it, the story is one of conflict between the United States and China, military escalation, and possible world domination major—pretty heavy stuff for the imaginations of two eighth graders from Dallastown, Penn.

The tale of the young authors began in 1999 as the two curious boys created a political game of strategy and world domination using maps from their civics class. The civics teacher, living in post-Columbine fear, sent them to the principal’s office to ascertain whether they intended to wreak havoc on the world, beginning in the hallways of the small-town middle school. After straightening out the misunderstanding, the boys channeled their frustration and creative energy into writing a book, starting out by asking the question, “What if two people set out to rule the world?” Chapter-by-chapter, they exchanged drafts, naming many of the characters after friends and school officials, but saving the names of the book’s protagonists for themselves.

“An enormous amount of research went into this project,” says Kashner. “Neither of us had any particular military background, but we were determined to make [the book] as authentic as possible.” So research they did. Visiting actual government installations mentioned in the book and touring the U.S. Senate and various embassies, the pair talked to anyone they could, including Kashner’s brother, a West Point graduate currently serving in Iraq.

Aware of the parallels between the subject of his book and the current activity of the U.S. military, Kashner is generally a supporter of President George W. Bush’s war policies. His research and study of current events, however, has led him to believe there are problems in the intelligence community.

Kashner and his coauthor are now pounding the pavement to generate sales for the book. Their hometown bookstore reported a book signing drew the largest crowd ever for a local author. The publisher, World Association, scheduled enough book signings and public appearances to keep the pair busy through the holidays. And the George Mason University Bookstore is selling signed copies of The Eagle’s Nest.

What does the future hold for one as bright, ambitious, and focused as Kashner? There is talk about a sequel, but nothing definite. Undecided about whether to pursue a career in corporate law or the military, he may combine the two. “I’d like to study abroad at some point,” he says. “Maybe spend some time in London.”

The Eagle’s Crest is also available through Amazon.com, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and IndyBook.com.

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