Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Expansion by Christoph Martin #BlogTour @Authoright

In politics and big business, truth is a matter of opinion.

Straddling the storyworlds of Panama, Washington and London, The Expansion follows British-born geomatic engineer Max Burns, whose revolutionary water-saving system wins him the esteemed position of head engineer for one of the 21st century’s most politically contested megaprojects: the expansion of the Panama Canal.

For Max it is a dream come true: not only is he able to work closely with construction giant and old high-school friend Godfredo Roco in one of the most beautiful tropical environments, but it’s the kind of job Max has been working toward his entire career.

Yet in the arena of global trade and diplomacy, stakes are high, and when a senior official of the Panama Canal Administration is found dead, Max finds himself in the frame for sabotage and murder, and at the centre of a web of political intrigue and betrayal that reaches far beyond the idyllic shores of Central America. The only person Max can trust is his new-found love, Karis Deen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Except Karis herself holds a secret that could not only destroy Max, but could change the entire balance of world power.

An in-depth book spotlight

The Expansion (the first of a series) was written by a collaborative writing team: Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin.

The Expansion is the first part of a series that landed in Chris’s head one day when he was on a flight from Panama to Zürich in Switzerland (where he lives). He started typing on his iPhone, and then six hours later he had an outline with the big plot points and about six characters that were larger than life and who wouldn’t get out of his head! The story was of a scope that he realized would be best tackled by more than one mind, so he approached Libby O’Loghlin, who is an experienced novelist and also a screenwriting teacher.

In a sense, this story is relevant to the entire book because it’s been a truly collaborative effort, and having two sets of eyes and two brains to do the research and the thinking has influenced the breadth of topics we can write about. In fact, one of the book’s themes is very much around the idea of working with others and teamwork, and what that means. We also interrogate (with the help of the characters who are Defense Clandestine Service Agents!) the idea of truth and transparency, and whether truth really exists, or if it’s subjective. Because sometimes people do things that are deemed ‘wrong’, but it’s very understandable what drove them to do that thing. There’s always more than one way to look at things!

The Expansion story is fundamentally Max Burns’s story: he’s the protagonist, and he embodies the expansion of the Panama Canal from start to finish, with all its unexpected twists and turns. He is a thoroughly good guy who winds up in extraordinary circumstances, and in the frame for murder and sabotage. And he must dig himself out of the global political vipers’ nest using every resource he has!

Max originally came from a very rich family who had a country estate in England, but he was orphaned at age 14, so he spent many years learning to survive in the poverty-stricken housing estates of outer London. His survival was in part due to the fact that he had an adult in his life who had no money but who loved him and believed in him 100%. And the combination of these factors is what gives him the strength, many years later, to find a way out of the extraordinary mess he winds up in!

Karis Deen is the other major character in the book. She was one of the most interesting characters to write, as she is a very transparent person who has a very big secret. Without giving too much away, we can say that because Karis loves Max, she winds up with an ethical dilemma that seems like a lose-lose for her … and for Max.

The character who helps ignite Max’s journey from foggy London to tropical Panama is Max’s old boarding-school friend, Godfredo Roco, who is a mover and shaker in a global construction empire. Godfredo’s a real party-guy, who takes life by the jugular and tends to drag others along with him for the ride. He plays a huge part in the way the expansion project runs operationally, and is a party to some of the goings-on behind the scenes that Max is unaware of … until things start to go drastically wrong.

You can join Christoph and Libby’s email list by going to the book’s website: theexpansionbook.com
And get a copy of the book here: Amazon UK 

About the author: 

Christoph Martin is the writing team of Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin. Christoph Zollinger is a Swiss entrepreneur whose career spans legal, military, corporate and private enterprise. Christoph graduated with a law degree from the University of Zürich, after which time he went on to live and work in Panama in corporate and private enterprise for more than a decade. In 2012 he returned to Switzerland with his wife and children. He divides his time between his home in Zürich and a tiny Alpine village in Graubünden. Libby O'Loghlin is an Australian novelist and prize-winning short story writer who has a career in narrative media production, including film and television, as well as print and digital publishing. She has lived in the UK, USA and Malaysia, and she now lives with her family in Switzerland.


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