My name is Mark LaFlamme. I’m a crime reporter, columnist and author from Lewiston, Maine. In 2000, before George Bush stamped his giant, muddy footprint into the political landscape, I was a student of Bloomsburg Mass Media Professor Sharon Santus.
My, how I learned from this great teacher.
Back then, I spent much of my time investigating the most grisly of murders in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I found myself creeping out to the scene of a killing many nights and who was that creeping right along with me? Why it’s Sharon Santus, who came out with me one dark evening just to peer into the windows upon the scene of a particularly heinous slaying.
Sharon was one of those. Never content to simply edit copy and pass it along, she constantly drove me to unearth more information. She drove me to tighten the construction of a story and to ferret out additional details to stuff into the holes like dead leaves stuffed into a scarecrow.
Sharon Santus made a lot of good stories great. She helped me thrive on the crime beat in an area that had no shortage of crime. She helped me win awards. She made me a better reporter and a better writing.
And, as if molding my journalistic being wasn’t enough, she got me to open my ears and listen to what was happening in the world of politics.
In 2000, I was the picture of apathy. Sharon explained to me why that stance was both self-defeating and irresponsible. She taught me to give a damn who would run the country and she instilled in me a passion for political strategy.
And now, my third published novel tackles that very thing. In “Dirt: An American Campaign,” you will find all the treachery, deceit and betrayal you can stomach. A young man has made off with the body of his dead bride and in doing so, has imperiled his father’s run for the presidency. A mercenary and a washed-up, alcoholic writer are off to track the young man down in the thick of the presidential primaries.
Dirt is a fun story and an eye-opening one. You will find it taut, tediously researched and sparing no drama or detail, all in keeping with the teachings of that master educator you are now blessed with having.
Enjoy the book, if it finds its way to you, and take advantage of what Sharon Santus has to offer.