Murder, terrorism and Gasparilla Island: Local landmarks play stage in action packed new book

In author C.B. Nash’s first book, “The Vengeance of Ben-Balla,” a twisted web of murder, terrorism and heroism plays out across Lee County. Throughout its pages characters frequent local restaurants and crisscross local roads in hot pursuit of bad guys.

“I thought it would make it more interesting,” explains Nash, himself a Lee County resident, on why he incorporated real locales into the book. And it certainly does, familiarity with the places mentioned really brings his book to life.

And while the book is Nash’s first, it certainly wasn’t his first book writing attempt.

“I’ve started writing novels a half a dozen times and never finished them,” jokes Nash dryly. But the self-proclaimed curmudgeon has finally done it, with the 375-page thriller now available to the public.

The story revolves around the antics of retired special agent Dexter Rubino and retired steel worker Matt Narvik as they chase terrorist and drug and arms smuggling tycoon Philippe Ben-Balla through the Australian pine strands of Lee County. It’s the first in what Nash hopes will become a three or four book series.

Interestingly, the inspiration for the book came from three unrelated incidents that happened locally in 2010. The first was when a French pilot was forced down by F-15’s over Collier County air space after his plane was reported stolen. The second and third events were a young girl found being held captive as a prostitute and a man falling off a sailboat and drowning with no witnesses. This trifecta of incidents spurred Nash’s imagination and kick started his idea for “The Vengeance of Ben-Balla.” Nash maintains, however, that he just used the events for inspiration — the book itself is 100 percent fiction.

As for the characters, they too are complete works of Nash’s imagination.

“I wrote detailed outlines for each of them, but they really wrote more of it than I did,” says Nash of how the characters developed themselves during the writing process. But he also points out that, “There are no superheroes in the book, they’re all flawed.”

Which of course, makes the book a very interesting read. The unique characters, along with the action-heavy plot, a few good twists and the fun-factor of being able to picture many of the locations mentioned in the book, make the novel a fun and speedy read.

“That’s what I wanted,” says Nash, adding, “I wanted it to be a good beach read.”

But though the book is quick and fun, Nash is the first person to admit that the writing and editing process wasn’t. From start to finish, the book took the new author about a year and a half to complete, and he describes working with an editor and receiving his first round of edits as, “a punch in the gut,” adding, “I probably cut about 5,000 words after the first edit.”

As for offering up advice to other aspiring novelists, Nash’s words of wisdom are simple: “Get a good education.”

The local author, who doesn’t have a college degree, lamented that basic editing, proofreading and grammar made the process of publishing that much more difficult.

“I had to rely on an editor for a lot, and that gets really expensive.”

But Nash won’t let that hold him back in the future. With two, or possibly even three more books on the way, Southwest Floridians who appreciate a good adventure novel have plenty to look forward to.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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