I’m so happy that the first book in the series, CAMP ZERO by Sean Ellis is finally available.  As the children of John and Emma Rourke, Paul and Annie Rubenstein and Michael and Natalia Rourke have grown older in The SURVIVALIST series, Bob Anderson and I felt that they needed room to spread their wings and have adventures of their own.  How will they survive in a world that once again is on the brink of imploding?

            You realize serious steps must be taken when your children are in danger because of who they are.  The adults have been able to carry on for over six hundred years through planning ahead and continuing to hone survival skills brought to the table by John Rourke. Their children have up to now lived in a relatively safe environment, protected by their family and living a pretty normal life considering that Michael is the President of the United States and the rest of the adults are famous throughout the world.  As things take a darker turn and the pizza gets closer to the fan every day, the six kids are sent off to learn how to survive on their own. This summer camp is more like boot camp, no slack given because of age or gender.  Everyone must learn how to pull together as a team and at the same time learn how to think and act by themselves if necessary. Are they, as modern teens, capable of doing whatever needs to be done to stay alive at all costs?  Who can they trust?  That hasn’t been an issue so far living in a world sheltered by a loving family.  Now, it’s a matter of life or death.

            Every parent knows how it feels to send your child off to school that very first morning – a mixture of pride and happiness with a dose of fear that something out there could hurt them and they won’t be at their side to protect them.  You rationalize that the other adults that are in charge will carry on with the same vigilance that you display and will be there in case of danger. Still, when they give you that last goodbye wave you feel a pain deep in your heart and wave back to them with a smile frozen on your face.

            Is it any easier when you send them off to attend after-school activities, their first sleep-over or when you drop them off for a day at the local mall with their friends?  Will there be boys?  The anxious wait the first time your child drove off on their own with that hours old driver’s license which somehow coincided with the new patch of grey hairs on your head. These kids are sent off to a summer camp where parents are not allowed! 

Are you sure you want your babies to grow up?  The Rourkes have no choice and neither do we. What’s important is what they grow up to become.





 Usa, Flag, America, American

America – “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”

I remember sitting on the front steps of our house in Chicago waiting for it to get dark enough for my dad to light the sparklers, those wire sticks that when lit produced tiny explosions of light that hissed and if you weren’t careful spat hot licks of fire onto your hands and bare legs.  Everyone in the neighborhood was outside or would be shortly.  Some neighbors had firecrackers ready to ignite and some had railroad flares set into the ground that would glow a hot white or red. Neighborhoods across the country were doing these same things, getting ready to celebrate America’s Birthday!


I grew up in a neighborhood that was heavily populated by German and Lithuanian families.  Many of the older members of the households barely spoke English and relied on their children and their grandchildren to help them communicate but we all got along – except this one woman who was just a crabby old bat.  But that’s another story. When Jerry and I moved to suburban Chicago to start a family we were surrounded by neighbors of various ethnic backgrounds – Russian Jews, Chinese, African American, etc. 


We had a friend that was an actor from Spain, two friends who were journalists who fled Cuba early on during the Castro regime; a young friend was a French Armenian who wanted to be a well known hairdresser like his older brother.  Once he practiced on Jerry, giving him a haircut that resulted in Jerry losing the tip of his ear. Another friend was sent to America as a child after watching her mother being raped and killed by German soldiers in occupied France during the Second World War. A student/aspiring theater actor introduced us to the AIDs epidemic as we watched him fade away before he had a chance to play a staring role. 


Diversity is what America is.  We are a mixture of all nationalities, religions, races and political beliefs; this, I believe, is what makes this country strong.  In past years other countries have labeled us a nation of cowboys, loud-mouthed, uncouth barbarians who answer threats with action. Maybe we did but those same countries thought twice before pissing us off. 


Our strength lately has been ebbing at home and abroad, in part because we have been allowing our differences to divide us instead of making us stronger.  We are taking away certain freedoms from one to give to another in an attempt to be politically correct or to quell the louder noise of one group over others. Yes, we are different but we all need to stop destroying that gift so many people have fought and died to give us.  We owe our independence to those who united together to gain our freedom from England and to those who protect us today. 


Just like any large family we will always find something to fight over but when it comes to America, love it or leave it!  





Years ago when Jerry and I still lived in the Chicago area we became friends with a gentleman who had emigrated here from Spain.  Juan had been an actor, not a movie star or anything like that but a working actor on Spanish television and radio.  He was a good looking, late middle-aged gentleman with a terrific dramatic speaking voice.  His audio version of Count Dracula would have put Bela Lugosi to shame. He gave up his career to come to America, his land of opportunity, to work part-time teaching Spanish as a second language at a well knows language school.  This gig barely paid his bills while he struggled to improve his ability to express himself in English in order to get a better paying job.


Juan’s misadventures with the English language were numerous and, humorous but his good looks and gregarious personality were enough to usually let him slide.  Because of his accent and struggle to find the right words sometimes we would have to actually stop and listen and concentrate to fully understand his message.


There were no war or terrorism attacks or famine  that made Juan’s journey to America imperative.  He wasn’t escaping anything but rather he wanted to go forward and carve out a different path.    He realized that it was his duty by coming here to learn the rules set out in our Constitution, abide by them and respect the symbol of our country – our flag. 


Juan took the classes necessary and eventually became a citizen.  He kept up on current events, got involved in local government and was a positive and active member of the community.  Unfortunately his accent, no matter how hard he tried, still presented him with some awkward moments; one was when he told a neighbor that he had blue shits on his bed. Our friend made a point of being informed of all issues and diligently investigated those who ran for office before casting his vote.  To Juan the person who would be filling the position had an extremely important role.  That person was responsible for carrying out his or her duties in accordance with the will of the people as long as in office. 


The “office” to Juan was more important than the person who filled it.  People come and go and some will do a good job, some not so good but the office is a symbol of what our country stands for.  We have the right to vote for those we wish to oversee our well being whether it is the local school board or the highest “office” in the land. 


This year in particular we have seen and heard grown-ups acting like spoiled rotten children climbing over each other bodies to attain the chance of holding one particular high office.  Because of all the mud slinging and other slime they are generating, that mountain to the top has become difficult to navigate and their antics to grab our attention has run the gamut from amusement to outrange among those of us who must choose who we feel would represent us best.


I can’t help but think back to Juan and how hard he worked to become a citizen of  the United States and how seriously he took his responsibilities as a voter.  He was proud of his new home and proud of its Constitution and flag.  He looked up to our governing officials to oversee our country and its laws with dignity and strength and to maintain our place as the greatest nation in the world. 


RESPECTRESPECT is something earned, not given.  You DON’T get RESPECT by degrading your opponents, nor do you get it by lying, cheating, bullying or back-stabbing.  You DON’T get RESPECT for going with the variable, fashionable trends of the few. You DO get RESPECT by at least trying to do what’s right for America.  You DO get RESPECT for listening to the people you’re supposed to represent.  Do you see anyone out there in the running that Juan might consider?  We need to put RESPECT back in the office before it’s too late.




When we started THE SURVIVALIST series in 1981, we never imagined the stories and places the characters would take us but we were sure from the very beginning that family was and still is the glue that binds this made-up universe together and keeps everything within a certain semblance of reality.  

After The Night of the War, John Thomas Rourke never swayed from his task of finding his family, not knowing if they were alive or had perished.  He became the surrogate leader of another branch of the Rourke Clan, taking under his wing Paul Rubenstein and Russian agent, Natalia Tiemerovna.  They in turn were ready to do whatever necessary to help Rourke in his quest.  Sarah, Rourke’s wife, fought to keep herself and their children safe, knowing without a doubt that he would come looking for them.  

The family dynamics would occasionally change and it certainly grew over the course of years but the basic idea of strength in family always has and always will be a major part of their story.  No matter, good times or bad, family is strength.  The characters may not always agree or share the same page but they are always there when it counts. This holds true in reality as well. 

Those of us blessed with spouses, siblings and children and beyond know that family gatherings can be wonderful or perhaps challenging at times.  When we get together, (adults, five grandkids, four dogs, etc.), we somehow all end up in the kitchen where we trip over each other and try to avoid stepping on a fur buddy.  We argue politics and give explanations on why the sky is blue or ponder when the neighbor next door is going to cut their lawn. We even save enough dinner rolls to have a contest as to who can throw one the farthest off the back deck for the birds to finish off.  Jason’s wife, Getzy, won our last contest! 

Some families are impossibly large while some are small.  Your family may consist of very few relatives or maybe just friends.  Your closest and most beloved family member may be of the four footed variety who gives you their undivided attention and love.  Regardless of your definition of family, remember that they are part of who you are.  I guess that would include your crazy uncle who tells the same stories at every get together and drinks all the good stuff from the liquor cabinet.




I found this newspaper interview from 1982 in the back of a file cabinet and knew I had to share it with you.  I know, we look like dorks!  Don't stop with the photo.  Continue down and read the article.  We always knew how to embarrass the children!




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