Friday, October 20, 2017


Title: American Reaper
Author: Keller McGraw
Genre: Mystery Thriller 
Release: Available NOW

What’s a person to do when they go from unsung American hero to international war criminal overnight? Easy answer – “Run like hell.”

A scapegoat for a rogue drone operation in the deserts of Somalia, Aimee Levitt is pursued by her government, the Mossad, and the Russians. Her comrades in arms murdered, she cuts a deal with the largest human trafficker in the world. She not only disappears, she is physically transformed. 

It is a short-lived escape. Levitt learns that her mother is dying – a bullet in her head. Levitt resurfaces and in a bloody journey across three continents the hunted becomes the hunter – only to be faced with a final question. When justice and doing what is right are not the same, what’s a person to do? No easy answer.

Keller McGraw gives us an intense, relentless thriller as current as today’s headlines. In the process, he creates an unforgettable new heroine named Aimee Levitt.

Exclusive Interview with author Keller McGraw!

Keller McGraw is the author of American Reaper, with his roots deeply planted in a career of photojournalism. Keller has photographed everyone - from presidents and actors, to political movements around the globe. His experience and journeys are the springboard for his mystery thriller novel, and I was excited to have the opportunity to interview McGraw, and ask him a few questions about his life and writing (for more information, see his biography at the bottom of the article!).

1. Tell us about yourself. According to your biography - you've had an amazing career! 

Looking back, an eccentric Jesuit professor of history at Drake University changed my life. He was tough and unforgiving – students avoided his classes. His single goal was to teach you how to think, not what to think. I got it – and the world changed for me.

Favorite fiction writers – Stieg Larson and Lee Childs
Favorite non-fiction writers – Seymour Hersh and Barbara Tuchman
Favorite Photographer – Eddie Adams
Most admired journalist – Sharyl Attkisson
Most admired slain journalist – Veronica Guerin

2. What was it like photographing famous figures like United States Presidents? 

It’s a strange feeling. It’s like 6 degrees of separation have been reduced to one or zero. I remember photographing the Archbishop of Canterbury and later thinking, this is the guy that married Lady Diana and Prince Charles.

It makes the world first person real. Like having conversations with Ronald Reagan, Ted Kennedy and Robert Redford. Example of zero degrees of separation – photos done, sitting on a bale of hay talking with John Connelly one-on-one about President Kennedy’s assassination. No more public face, just private face. Unforgettable stuff.

3. American Reaper. What's it about and what was your inspiration behind the novel? 

American Reaper is the story of Aimee Levitt, an unsung American hero who commands an off the books drone operation in east Africa – which comes to a crashing end when her team is charged with crimes against humanity. Levitt and her men avoid international arrest warrants, but cannot escape the White House’s relentless killer assigned to silence them. Desperate, Levitt makes a deal with the devil – a mysterious middle eastern man who makes the infamous disappear. She is remade and escapes – almost.

Learning her mother who deserted her at the age of four is dying, a bullet in her brain, Levitt emerges from exile – to say goodbye forever. In the process, the hunted becomes the hunter as Levitt’s secret past and present collide. All bets are off in this thriller that spans three continents when Levitt realizes “blind justice is the handmaiden of injustice.” Her solution is shocking and explosive.

The inspiration for American Reaper is the beauty of fiction. A medium where you can combine imagination and true events which are beyond imagination – making unbelievable reality believable. Mind blowing.

4. You said you've been working on writing a screenplay (?) of the novel. How is that different than writing a book? Is it easier? Harder? Which medium do you prefer?

Adapting the novel American Reaper into a pilot (screenplay) is a challenge. It’s condensing a multitude of plots, subplots and characters from a novel into a much more limiting medium. It’s present tense and sparse on description. Character emotions and thoughts are conveyed through dialogue. The upside is it’s often a collaborative effort and can be fun – especially when you are partnered with experts, like a veteran director and Emmy nominated writer.

The reward of a screenplay is seeing your characters come to life. It is magic.

 5. How do you think your life experiences as a photojournalist influences your writing? 

Engaging with the famous is one thing, but it pales when being exposed to the infamous. It’s the facts of life on steroids – following real stories down the rathole of truth. Haunting interviews with heroes and villains – and the reminder that real journalism is dangerous. How does it affect my writing? Refer to American Reaper – kill cages are real.

6. Any upcoming books/projects? What is your advice to aspiring writers and authors? 

It’s a busy time, writing a TV pilot, preparing to pitch American Reaper after the new year and working on American Reaper II. 

Advice? Read The Hero with a Thousand Faces and never forget, life and writing are mirror images of each other.  Enjoy the ride.

More About the Author 
A Life in Four Acts

As a photo-journalist I photographed presidents, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders and celebrities. Among the famous, presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush I, Bush II, Pope John Paul, Henry Kissinger, John Glenn, Texas Governor John Connally, Senator Robert Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford and more. Exciting times – especially meeting the love of my life – Betsy. Together we shared some of these experiences.

The pivot into Act Two took place in a Tegucigalpa restaurant during the Contra-Sandinista conflict. I was shooting stills and Betsy was shooting video. In a heart to heart we talked about love, marriage and money. We concluded we wanted it all.

Failure was not an option. We formed a company that served the information needs of Fortune 500 companies. We dealt in information delivery – leveraging our skills and embracing the digital revolution. Videos for CEO’s, technical writing for manufacturers and rapid software development were our specialties. In 1999, we sold the company.

Act Three - it was time to write. In the following years, I wrote four non-fiction books and several screenplays. I interviewed heroes, villains, and victims – bigger than life people that walk among us. More importantly, I learned how the world works. It is what every fiction writer knows – nothing is what it appears to be.

American Reaper is Act Four of a great life – thanks to Betsy. “Enough non-fiction, write fiction.” Together we developed the plot lines and characters for American Reaper during a 1500-mile car trip. Credit her for coming up with the pen name Keller McGraw. In the end, the biography of my life is a love story.

Just the facts:
Born in Iowa
Live in Arizona
Age – Forever young
Interesting Relatives: Helen Keller and Tim McGraw

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