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Cold War thriller

Radio host turns his love of words into a novel that revisits our shadowy past.



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By RAY ROUTHIER Staff Writer January 20, 2008

Chuck Igo has a way with words.

He's made a career on radio, most recently as the morning host on Portland station WYNZ (100.9 FM). He's also written hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages of radio commercials over the years.

So at some point, Igo figured since he was never at a loss for words, maybe he should turn some of those words into a book.

Igo decided to write a Cold War thriller called "Taken Identity" (AuthorHouse Books), which came out last year. For more information, including where to find the book locally, go to www.chuckigo.com.

Igo, 49, lives in South Portland.

Q: What prompted you to write a novel, after all these years in radio?

A: While serving as (Portland radio station) WPOR's production director, I printed out a back-up of all of the commercial copy written over five months. The result was pretty staggering to me, more than 500 pages. I thought if I could write 500 pages of commercial copy, then surely I could do at least that with a story.

Q: Where did the idea for the story come from?

A: The idea for the story came as a result of the (President Bill) Clinton scandal and my disappointment with the number of finger-pointers within our government who were all probably "guilty" of something at some time in their lives. One of whom, the Speaker of the House, was especially vocal. There was just something about that individual which caused me to wonder just how much we knew about that person.

Q: Why did you want to write a Cold War story when the Cold War has been over 15 years or more? What about that period interests you?

A: The Cold War period in our history was one of mutual distrust and what was known as MAD -- Mutually Assured Destruction. Both sides had the means to blow each other to little pieces, and with discretion being the better part of valor, neither was really ready to pull the trigger. It was almost as if the old U.S.S.R. was a kinder, gentler enemy. And, given the aforementioned presidential scandal, it was more fun to take a case of infidelity and transpose that to something more mind- boggling -- a Cold War espionage operation. At the onset of writing the novel (late 1990s), the Cold War wasn't that far removed. Additionally, the starting point for "Taken Identity" made it easier for me to lay the foundation for a potential cast of recurring characters for any future story ideas -- some who might "grow old" with the reader.

Q: What were your days like when you were writing this? What time were you on the radio, when did you write, how much each day?

A: "Taken Identity" was started during daytime lunch hours while I was with WPOR, then carried over into a time when I was commuting daily for an overnight radio show at Boston's WROR. I had the two-hour, one-way commute to think out plot lines and character developments, then I would try to peck out a few pages before heading to bed each day. A Christmas laptop computer allowed the story to travel with me and use both ends of the commute for writing. The final few months had me skipping sleep on many days to try to finish the story.

Q: What were some of the things you learned about yourself while writing this book?

A: First and foremost, I learned that I had not yet outgrown the capacity to learn new and different things. Writing a story usually involves a bundle of things that one already knows, whether it's people for characters or places for settings. It involves taking that knowledge and expanding it, which inevitably leads to further investigation and research.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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