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Character Interview: Josie Kendal from Michael Bowen’s political thriller ‘False Flag in Autumn’



character interviewWe’re thrilled to have you her today, Josie, from Michael Bowen’s new political thriller, False Flag in Autumn.  Josie is a twenty-eight year old political communications specialist living in Washington, D.C.

It’s a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Josie.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight without your readers?

I think Bowen pretty much nailed me.  I’m not a saint.  When I die the topic of canonization will not come up.  But I’ve only done one thing that I’m truly ashamed of, and he let me show my remorse for that.  I didn’t realize that I used naughty words as freely as I apparently do, but I have to admit, when I saw them there on the page they sounded like me.  It’s kind of a lazy habit that I fell into almost casually when I started working in Washington.  Bowen seems to think False Flag in Autumn is a redemption story, but to tell you the truth I’m not sure I need redemption all that much.  A lot of politics is like a spikes-high slide into second base:  it ain’t pretty – but that’s the way the game is played.  You can play the game that way, or you can sit on the sideline polishing your halo.  I want to be in the game.

False Flag in Autumn.jpgDo you feel the author did a good job of colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, I do like cocktails (especially when my husband, Rafe, makes them), and even though I’ve been (mostly) smoke-free for three years now, sometimes it’s a struggle to hang onto the “mostly.”  I like having to think fast and I like getting it right when I do.  And I do desperately love Rafe, and cherish both our intellectual sympatico and our sexual intimacy.  Bowen is right about all that stuff.  Bowen seems a little judgmental about me at times – I’m sure I picked up a subtly disapproving tone when he had me refer to “casual hook-ups that I got over when I was 20”.  I guess that’s because deep down he’s as crazy about me as Rafe is – and who could blame him for that?

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Self-awareness.  I’m spunky but I’m not particularly brave, and I know it.  My mind is fast but it’s not deep, and I know that, too.  I’m pretty smart, but I’m not wise, at least not yet.  All I have to do to excite male sexual desire is breathe, and I’ve been known to use that gift teasingly. 

Worst trait?

I sometimes fall into the trap of kidding myself.  I spend all day spinning politicians and reporters, and sometimes when I look back on something that didn’t go well, I realize that I was spinning myself without realizing it (until it was too late).

If you could choose someone in the movie or television industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Nicole Kidman.  With a glossy black wig and a little Creole make-up, she could play me perfectly, and even flashback to my student days at Tulane and my early internships in Washington if she had to. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Absolutely:  my husband, Rafe.  Charm, good looks, brains, guts – he’s more than twenty years older than I am, but he’s the whole package.  Rafe’s first wife died while she was pregnant with what would have been their first child, and I think that tragedy really deepened him.  When I first started working full-time in D.C., I treated the available males as a buffet.  Then, when I met Rafe, I realized that I’d been playing triple-A ball.  Rafe was my introduction to the major leagues.

At what point in the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When a White House aide showed me two personnel files with CI (“Congressional Influence”) stamped on them, and then winked at me.  I knew he wanted to use me as an unwitting pawn in a scheme that had “special prosecutor” written all over it, and I had no idea what the scheme was.  I knew right then I should just walk away – but I’m hard-wired not to walk away from heavy duty political action.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Hank Sinclair, the White House aide.  He’s so breathtakingly handsome that he’s always had his way with women, and that has led him into some very bad habits.  Much, much worse, he’s book-smart but not gut-smart.  That’s a bad combination almost anywhere, but in Washington it can be fatal – literally fatal.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Bittersweet.  I found out something important about myself that maybe I’d rather have not known.  I guess it’s good to know, but there are times when I miss the illusion.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

Maybe treat my occasional introspection the way you treat sex between me and Rafe:  just a hint here and there, and leave the rest to the readers’ imaginations.  Readers are smart.  They won’t have any trouble connecting the dots.

Thank you for this interview, Josie.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Let’s see what happens between now and November, 2020.  Depending on how things turn out, Bowen may be working with characters who sip sherry with the village vicar by then.



Michael Bowen is a retired trial lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School who has published nineteen mysteries, ranging from Washington crime stories to plucky couple puzzle mysteries (and sometimes  both at the same time).

About your book and purchase link:   False Flag in Autumn is available as both an ebook and in hard cover from amazon.  Fine bookstores can also order it through Ingram – and who knows, maybe some of them already have.

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