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USA

Seaplane flight training on the lakes of Minnesota

Research for a seaplane action scene in The Serpent's Game

I headed to Lino Lakes just north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to get my seaplane rating, which involves about 8-9 hours of dual training and a check-ride with an FAA examiner. This training is particularly relevant to my novels since I'm about to write an action scene involving a seaplane flight (and crash) for my upcoming thriller The Serpent's Game.

Here are some pictures from the training:

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Posted by AC Frieden 12:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Researching New Orleans for a Sequel Thriller

Finding remote, off-the-beaten-path places of interest for book scenes

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, USA (Mar. 19-22, 2010) -- I arrived in New Orleans this weekend in part to research scenes for the sequel to his latest thriller, Tranquility Denied. Frieden concentrated his time on sites in the north end of the French Quarter, as well as on the city’s north side and in the central business district. The thriller series’ protagonist is a New Orleans maritime lawyer named Jonathan Brooks, who in the first novel become entangled in a deadly web of Cold War espionage. “The sequel follows the same genre, with several early chapters that take place in New Orleans,” said Frieden. “But like in the first novel in the series, Brooks then gets involved in a globetrotting adventure that takes his to Panama, Vietnam and other interesting places.

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Now I'm no stranger to New Orleans. I have always found this city truly fascinating, not only during my three years
in law school here, but every time that I have since returned. And as I spend time here researching for
my next book, I am hit by so many amazingly enriching memories of my time in this city. Living in New Orleans at the time was a life-altering experience and it brings me much happiness to keep this place in my Jonathan Brooks thriller series.

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---- Travel Essentials Summary (and ratings) ----
Hotels: Intercontinental New Orleans***** (9)
Restaurants: Brennan's (9) and others in the French Quarter
Bars/Night Clubs: Lafite's Piano Bar (8) and several other bars.

All photos and text Copyright © 2010 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 18:55 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Researching a War Relic in New Jersey

My on-site investigation of the battleship USS New Jersey for inclusion in novel.


View USA (FL) 2008-4th trip & USA (PA) 2008 on AC Frieden's travel map.

CAMDEN, New Jersey, USA (Aug. 23) -- The USS New Jersey is a 45,000 ton battleship built in 1942 and was used in World War II, Korean War, the American/Vietnam War and served in other theaters of operations in the 1980s-90s. Of particular interest to me was its activities in 1951, where it was engaged in combat off the coast of Korea, mostly attacking North Korean shore batteries. I have included a the battleship anchored in Halong Bay in four scenes in my upcoming novel Woman At The Citadel, a novel set in 1951 Indochina, although in reality the vessel did not actually sail to Indochina that year. I thought it was important to see the vessel in person to more accurately describe its interior and know more about its history and technical specifications.

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(above) I arrived in Philadelphia, the closest airport to the site and stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

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(above) View of City Hall from my room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

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(above) I'm standing in front of the USS New Jersey, which I toured for about 3 hours with a professional guide.

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(above) Starboard side of battleship and dock.

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(above) I'm standing in front of the ship's 16-inch 50 caliber guns (there are a total of 9 such guns on the ship).

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(above) The loading mechanizm for the battleship's 16-inch gun. This one is the center gun in the forward turret.

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(above) Restored officer's cabin as it appeared in the 1940s and 50s.

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(above) Bedroom of the Captain's in-port cabin. The cabin also features a lounge and dining area.

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(above) Captain David Tyree, the ship's commander during the period of my novel.

USS New Jersey (BB-62), ("Big J" or "Black Dragon") is one of four Iowa-class battleships built by the U.S. Navy, and was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of New Jersey. During World War II, the New Jersey shelled targets on Guam and Okinawa, and screened aircraft carriers conducting raids in the Marshall islands. During the Korean War she was involved in raids up and down the North Korean coast, after which she was decommissioned in to the United States Navy reserve fleets, better known as the "mothball fleet". She was briefly reactivated in 1968 and sent to Vietnam to support U.S. troops before returning to the mothball fleet in 1969. Reactivated once more in the 1980s as part of the 600-ship Navy program, New Jersey was modernized to carry missiles and recommissioned for service. In 1983, she participated in U.S. operations during the Lebanese Civil War.

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(above) New Phalanx close-in weapons system (back) and Tomahawk cruise missile launcher (foreground), which were installed in the 1980s.

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(above) Modernized surveillance and targeting equipment installed during refurbishment in the 1980s.

The USS New Jersey was decommissioned for the last time in February 1991 at Bremerton, Washington where she resided until heading home to New Jersey. She was officially stricken from the Navy list on February 12,1995. On November 11, 1999, the ship arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Since that time, the battleship has been restored, opened and established as an educational museum and a tribute to its sailors. It opened as a museum and memorial in October 2001.

For more information on the USS New Jersey, visit the following two links: Official USS New Jersey Museum Site and WikiPedia Information

Overall, my visit was very interesting and the city, which I had visited numerous times in the 1980s, could also be featured one or more of my other novels. I'll consider that as manuscripts develop.

----- Travel Essentials Summary (and ratings) -----
Hotel: Ritz-Carlton (9.5)
Restaurants: McCormick & Schmick's (8); Ristorante Panorama (in Pennsview Hotel)(8.5); 10 Arts (in Ritz Carlton)(7.5)
Bar/Club: Cuba Libre (9)
Rental Car: Dodge Nitro (8.5)

Posted by AC Frieden 13:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Clandestine Meeting in Miami's Famous South Beach

Meeting with an intelligence source who contributes valuable information for thriller/espionage novels


View USA (FL) 2008-2nd trip on AC Frieden's travel map.

South Beach (Miami), Florida, USA (July 3, 2008) -- Ok, so you're thinking beach, bikinis, night clubs, Miami, the sun, July 4th... Hard to believe, but it's not really vacation. One of the key reasons for my stopover here (I'm on my way to Florida's gulf coast) was to meet with sources, one in particular in the intelligence community who could give me enlightening information on three important topics: the U.S.-Colombian special forces rescue of hostages held by the FARC; the recent Israeli Air Force strike on the Al-Kabir nuclear reactor under construction in east-central Syria; and SIGINT updates on Israeli preparations for a strike on Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile sites.

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(above) The south end of Ocean Drive in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami is very much alive, even at 4 a.m.

Like most authors with a background in Intel and the military, I've maintained and expanded over the years a useful network of contacts in the diplomatic, intelligence, and military communities worldwide (incl. retired or active US State Dept., DSS, Shin Bet, Mossad, FBI, NSA, SRS/SND, DRM, BPOL, and BND members and other foreign gov't officials). So when intelligence related events occur that have relevance to any of my upcoming novels (whether still being written or in the editing phase), I like to tap into these contacts for their insight. But to do so, I often have to meet in person (avoiding emails or phone calls -- quite tricky sometimes). That's the best way to keep them anonymous and get the most candid and detailed information. Like any sources for journalists and writers, they want the assurance of anonymity. This information can then be of use in developing or refining my plots or the various Intel/MIL techniques described in my fiction novels and in my non-fictional research publications.

My rendezvous took place in a couple places around town (can't name them, of course -- there are cameras everywhere these days). I stayed in the heart of South Beach, had a late night dinner at News Cafe, hung out the next day at the acclaimed Nikki Beach and relaxed and people-watched at the sidewalk cafes/restaurants of the Ocean Five Hotel and the Beacon Hotel. I also spent a little time at some interesting hangouts on Lincoln and at the Delano Hotel, one of the trendy nightspots in this part of Miami.

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(above) The pool area at the Delano at night. Located on Collins Avenue in South Beach and directly on the ocean, the Delano is a world-class urban resort with a splendid outdoor area surrounded by bungalows, ultimate cushioned seating and hip music.

--- Summary of Travel Spots (and Ratings) ---
Hotels: Ocean Five Hotel (7); Beacon Hotel (7)
Restaurants: News Cafe (6); Baires Grill (7); Barolo Restaurant (8); Nikki Beach (8); Segafredo Cafe (6)
Bars/Night Clubs: Delano South Beach Hotel poolside bar (9)

All photos and text Copyright © 2008 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 00:54 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Scouring Vegas for One Hot Scene

Searching for the ending scenes of my upcoming novel, The Serpent's Game.

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View USA (NV, AR) 2008 on AC Frieden's travel map.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, USA (May 3, 2008) -- The other day I was finishing the outline for The Serpent's Game, the sequel to my 2006 spy thriller Tranquility Denied (Avendia Publishing, 2006). I had already done some research in Mexico and Poland for scenes to use in the book, but as I always do in my novels, I like to know the details of the ending before I get too immersed in the other chapters. So, I thought long and hard about it and came up with Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon for the final battle between the hero (lawyer Jonathan Brooks) and the villain. The scene, which consists of three parts rolled into one chapter, will involve a dramatic helicopter and SUV chase scene, but will end on a more sedate note with a tinge of ambiguity. Most importantly, to do the job well, I decided to research the scene on-site.

I headed to Vegas filled excitement about the journey. The first day was consumed with sightseeing on the Strip, shopping and great food, after which I returned to the Luxor exhausted. The real treat was for the second day. With two cameras (always have a back-up), I boarded the chopper from Maverick Helicopters at the airport. The next four hours were a real treat and offered me all the insight I needed to develop the scene.

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(above) Standing next to the highly maneuverable EC-130 helicopter.

The helicopter took me over Las Vegas, Frenchman Mountain, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and along the Colorado River into the western part of the Grand Canyon. The helicopter touched down on a ledge for a brief Champagne toast and lunch and then took off again for other impressive sites just south of the main canyon. After a refueling stop in the middle of nowhere, the flight continued to the sulfer and iron rich grounds north of Lake Mead (a place called the "Bowl of Fire"). And heading back over the city offered superb views of the Las Vegas Strip, the huge casino hotels, the Stratospere and other spots of interest. And as a private pilot, I especially appreciated the scenery and the maneuvres deep in the canyon itself. As you can see from the photos below, it was amazing...

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(above) Flying over my hotel, the Luxor casino and resort

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(above) View of the Las Vegas Strip (Caesar's Palace, the Paris, and the Bellagio are visible).

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(above) Flying over Hoover Dam (note construction of the new bypass)

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(above) Aerial view of the canyon's impressive rock formation.

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(above) The Colorado River snaking through the canyon.

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(above) Aerial view sulfer and iron rich soil just north of Lake Mead.

--- Summary of Travel Spots (and Ratings) ---
Hotels: Luxor (8)
Restaurants: _________ (in Mandelay Bay)(6); _________ (in Paris)(7);
Bars/Night Clubs: ____________ (in Belagio); ___________

All photos and text Copyright © 2008 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 15:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New Orleans Two Years After Katrina

Visiting the city where I went to law school and where I set the first novel in the Jonathan Brooks series.


View USA (LA) 2007 on AC Frieden's travel map.

NEW ORLEANS, Lousiana (Nov. 3, 2007) -- I'd longed to come back after Katrina struck this city, a place filled with memories from law school and the hometown of the main fictional character, Jonathan Brooks, for the novels Tranquility Denied (2006) and the sequel, The Serpent's Game (announced for 2009). My visit also coincided with my 10-year Loyola law school reunion.

I visited the Ninth Ward, the most severely hit area of the city. The pictures speak for themselves...

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I also visited other sites for the second thriller in the Jonathan Brooks series. These included various sites around town, including a cemetery.

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--- Summary of Travel Spots (and Ratings) ---
Hotels: Pavillion Hotel (8)
Restaurants: Arnaud's (8)
Bars/Night Clubs: Pat O'Brien's (8)

All photos and text Copyright © 2008 A.C. Frieden. No reproduction permitted without prior written approval by A.C. Frieden. For reproduction rights and higher resolution images, send email to afrieden[at]avendiapublishing.com.

Posted by AC Frieden 14:40 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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