Disorder follows a reporter that sets out to solve the mystery of how an unlikely candidate is rocketing to the top of the polls. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
This book is a combination of three fictional storylines that miraculously merged early one morning. I had plotlines for a book entitled “The Election” – about a rigged election; another for a “Fixer series” – about a mysterious person who manipulates events for pay; and a third called “The Cure” – about a plan put in place to reacquaint Americans with our national values.
At the time I was not looking to write a second book (sequel to Camp David Conspiracy) featuring reporter Geoffrey Wines, nor President Osbourne. Yet, that morning, the three merged with Geoffrey Wines and President Robert Osbourne becoming the vehicle to tell a story that centers on the disfunction that disinformation wreaks on our society.
I will add this book was well on its way before the 2020 election, the false narrative about the election results, and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. It also predated the start of the anti-Covid vaccine disinformation campaigns. During its writing, the WSJ “Facebook Papers” were released; information about the Pegasus spyware / cell-phone hacks reported; and several academic papers were released detailing the actual flow of disinformation during the 2016 election.
Ironically, almost to the day of the book’s March 1 release: Russia invaded Ukraine; Putin’s motivation discussed; and his use of disinformation on both the Russian and Ukraine people reported.
Each of these events only fortified the storyline’s premise.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
I loved writing the dialogue scenes between Geoffrey Wines and President Osbourne. The banter back and forth was fun to write, giving each a voice and cadence to their speech.
The single scene I most enjoyed writing was when an unknown person enters Jimmy Olsen’s home and tries to penetrate the hallway leading to his operations center. I just love the way the entire scene unfolds, the nerd humor, and its ramifications later in the book (and this book’s sequel).
I also enjoyed writing the Washington Post newsroom interchanges as Wines and Olsen explain their findings to the paper’s editors. A lot of conflicting, yet important agendas come to play during these scenes.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The most important theme is the pervasiveness of disinformation throughout American society and how it is disseminated to the public in a falsely credible fashion. I try to show this in different ways throughout the story to ensure it sticks with the reader.
My introduction to this phenomenon occurred maybe ten years ago when I heard from a relative that one party was threatening to outlaw outdoor BBQ grills. It was a preposterous claim, but it always stuck with me. Later, a friend at tennis one night was telling about a political party trafficking kids from a Washington D.C. pizza parlor and how Sandy Hook was a hoax. This too stuck with me. Then in the throes of the 2016 election, I remember people questioning how social media could possibly have any sway in the election.
This book attempts to unravel how disinformation travels from its source — to social media — to mainstream media — to finally how our elected politicians give these lies credibility for personal and partisan advantage. We see how the public’s sources of news are highly segregated based on political persuasion and witness its impact in creating disorder in our society. The book tries to explain how and why we as a nation seem to be dealing with two sets of facts when trying to make personal decisions regarding Covid vaccines or understanding why gasoline prices are rising.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing the third book in the Geoffrey Wines series. It will include the current journalistic relationship between Geoffrey Wines and Jimmy Olsen. I will keep its storyline quiet until publication, currently anticipated for early in 2023.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: Antim Straus, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, disorder, ebook, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, political thriller, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Disorder by Antim Strauss is a riveting story about the most infamous US presidential election in recent times. This fictional narrative is based on actual events and explores the actions of a mysterious figure known as The Fixer. The reader is hooked from the start as the story begins with a message by The Fixer himself, addressing the reader. Individual chapters are dedicated to the thoughts and words of The Fixer, whose poetic lines are pretty gripping. As the story progresses, we realize how the actions of The Fixer are about to cause a catastrophe. An unstable, and disgraceful candidate becomes the frontrunner of the GOP, and a massive disinformation campaign is afoot to ensure his victory. Tipped off by a former president, journalist Geoffrey Wines along with fellow journalist, hacker, and Superman enthusiast Jimmy Olsen, discovers a much deeper conspiracy. One that threatens the very essence of American Democracy.
Disorder opens in a slow-burn style giving readers the background leading up to the election and introducing The Fixer. The words of The Fixer, nicknamed Elvis, add freshness to the narrative and gives readers a unique perspective. Similarly, the author has done an excellent job of conveying the thoughts of his characters within the text.
While the novel is a political thriller, readers are not inundated with suspenseful events. The story is well written and the narrative techniques used by the author are commendable. As a technothriller, there is a lot of technical jargon and computer-related stuff to appeal to the tech-savvy crowd. The best part about this story is the investigation by Geoffrey and Jimmy, along with other members of their team. The way the investigation is conducted and clues are connected are quite intriguing and will appeal to fans of compelling mysteries.
Disorder is a political fiction novel that parallels closely to recent events. Appealing to readers of mystery novels, political, techno, and psychological thrillers, this suspenseful and riveting novel has something for readers of all types.
Pages: 363 | ASIN : B09SBRYNHJ
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The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birth of a Hero follows a 12-year-old boy who finds himself thrust into a magical land full of danger. What was your inspiration for this thrilling novel?
My inspiration for my story hit me after several episodes of depressive and manic scenarios with my son Joshua back in 2006. I felt helpless, as I watched my youngest child suffering from the throngs of what I learned to be bipolar disorder. He often would daydream and seem lost in his own world and although I researched to find answers, support and help, I couldn’t imagine this world he lived in, full of darkness. It was dreadful. Anyone with this disorder knows that it can cripple a family. I couldn’t fathom this life and so I created a world in which I wanted him to be the hero, one where he could over come any obstacle, to tell his story.
Joshua struggles with being bipolar and his parents divorce. I felt that you handled both with care and realism. Why did you want to cover such sensitive topics in your novel?
As a mother it was heart-wrenching and I learned so much, but still the world seemed to stigmatize the mental disorder my son suffered with and I wanted to change that for my son and others like him. As a teacher, I felt this story, in the hands of kids, could help them relate to a character like Joshua and they could empathize. Kids like Joshua would also enjoy reading that a character like them could overcome obstacles and become a hero, faltering along the way, but always striving to overcome. These are both important in our world with kids in schools, to help end the stigma and normalize these kids in not only their eyes, but others in school as well.
The world Joshua entered is full of magic and wonder that is described superbly. What were some themes you wanted to capture when creating your world?
I actually wanted to describe a fantastic world, full of intrigue and one in which I felt my son would enjoy, he seemed to love imaginary play outside with his action figures. So in the beginning that’s what I wrote, but as I progressed and the characters formed in my mind, and real life also took us on a journey through darkness, it was dreadful. Secondary to the imaginary world, it was essential Joshua Creed faces grave darkness, soul crippling darkness, although not as prevalent in this book, the series will encompass thematic elements of the darkness in anger and the peace at the end of the tunnel.
Will this book be part of a series? Where will book two pick up and when will it be available?
Yes! The book will be a series of three, possibly more books. I’m currently in the editing stage with book 2 and will come out this year, with book three later this year or early 2019.
The book will pick up two years later, where Joshua continues struggling in school and learns a great deal more about the prophecy of his destiny. If you pick up a copy of the first book, there’s a preview of the first chapter at the end. Enjoy!
Joshua Creed receives disturbing news about his parents, but before he is able to process it, he is flung into a world of intrigue and danger where he must fight for his life and the lives of the inhabitants. He discovers he has secret powers, and the mystery of his eye is revealed, but it isn’t easy being bipolar and only nine years of age. His newly found friends and family help him through his adventure but not before he’s forced to change schools.
The action-packed, fun, and exciting adventures of Joshua begin in this first adventure of his destiny.
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Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us by author Sarah H. Elliston is a guide for those who find themselves dealing with people they find difficult and want to know how they can better communicate and work with them. This book is told from the perspective of Elliston who discovered one day that she was a difficult person.
The tone of the book and the opening story regarding Elliston’s own experience being a difficult person invites the reader to take part in a personal story . This opening section helps the book feel like it is not condescending toward those who are difficult but paints the book as an effort to help those that are considered difficult and offers ways to help with communication in the workplace and in life.
The book opens with a summary of what the book covers, which is incredibly helpful in guides like this because not only does it let you know what you will learn but allows you to find what is most relevant to you. The first chapter was particularly interesting for me because it addresses how difficult people are clueless about what they are doing and who they are. This is important to realize, as it was for me, because a lot of the frustration comes from the thought that difficult people are doing it on purpose.
If you find that you are dealing with someone that is difficult, or have a nagging feeling that you may be that difficult person, I think this book is an important read. Even for students or readers interested in psychology or sociology. While reading this book I came to several realizations, the one stated earlier and I also realized how, when communicating, it is important to remember that we all come from different places and understanding the experience of others can improve the way we interact with those around us. And I think that is what this book is about, understanding the experience of others.
I enjoyed reading this book as it was well written and informative, but what I wasn’t ready for, and was pleasantly surprised by, was how much I was going to relate to the information in this book. This book is about an important topic, but it is written in a casual tone, so it is an easy read. Whether you are a difficult person, or know a difficult person, this book will help you understand each other better.
Pages: 178 | ASIN: B01NCJM76V
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Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography about your life and how you survived growing up and living with mental abuse. What inspired you to put your experiences into a book?
Originally I never intended to publish my experiences of growing up, I wrote about my life solely for my children to explain my parenting skills, or lack of them and to give them a greater understanding of me as a person. I was aware of the effects of the fraught relationship I had with my mother but totally unaware of the cause. As I recount in the closing chapters, it was only after her death that quite by chance I read about Narcissistic personality disorder and my mother’s reactions, behaviour and responses ticked all the boxes. I was over 60 when she died and only then I learned that no matter what I’d done, I would never, ever have been able to make her love me. If only I had walked away decades earlier I could have saved myself years of heartbreak. From talking to other victims in various forums I realized there were thousands of people out there in a similar position and that’s when I decided to publish my story. From the huge number of emails I’ve received, I know it has helped many others and that has been the greatest award of all.
In this book you talk about many of your life experiences. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The way my mother behaved towards me, belittled, mocked me and hurt me. I was also aware that many people would not understand why I was so stupid and returned time and time again only to receive more abuse. Only those who have been conditioned and brainwashed from birth to revere parents and respect families would understand this, many other people wouldn’t. As I wrote it opened the wounds, but at the same time pouring it all out on paper helped the healing process.
The novel covers the entire span of your life including your childhood. What is one common misconception you find people have about child abuse?
The media is full of stories relating to sexual abuse. To the outside world I was an only child, with all the comforts, food, nice clothes, private school, even the hated ballet lessons, living in a beautiful area in England. But what went on behind closed doors was ongoing mental abuse, and I think this has a more damaging effect that any other kind of abuse. It strips away your sense of worth, your self confidence, destroys any chance of achieving your potential. It doesn’t stop the day you are old enough to say ‘no this is not right’ because you can’t rely on your own judgement you have been taught that you are the problem. It follows you through life and while some simply give up, others will try again and again to be the perfect person and will fail again and again. I grew up in the days when there was no such thing as Child Line, no one to talk to, all adults stuck together, no one criticised the older generation. I was totally alone in an ongoing nightmare.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published Walking over Eggshells in 2013, and since then, I had written two further memoirs about my career in writing for radio and television full of funny and tragic stories.
I have also written four action/adventure books set in Africa featuring my heroine Amie and the latest of these is Cut for Life published in October 2017.
I am taking a month off to co-ordinate my marketing strategies (which are a disaster!) and then I will begin the next Amie book.
Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a “Walter Mitty” clone who took her to live in many different countries. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. At one end of the scale she met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and for her television programmes. At the other end, she climbed over garbage dumps, fended off the bailiffs, and coped with being abandoned in the African bush with a seven week old baby, no money and no resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. This book will make you laugh and cry, but also it also explains the damage being brought up by a mother with a personality disorder can inflict on a child. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and hopefully it will inspire others who did not have the best start in life either. All names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent – and that includes the author as well!
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Walking Over Eggshells: Surviving Mental Abuse by Lucinda Clarke is an autobiography where she has changed all the names to protect the innocent and guilty. The novel is about Lucinda’s life and how she survived growing up and living with mental abuse. Lucinda’s mom had narcissistic personality disorder, and this impacted her entire life. She uses this novel to show that despite growing up with this abuse she still lived a life full of adventure, had a family and eventually had a successful career. You will laugh at some of the stories, cry at others, and be outright shocked by many and wonder how this girl survived to write this. Through it all Lucinda was able to grow and keep up with the times, she was born in the 1950’s and has had to adapt with a drastically changing society while continuing to endure the mental abuse of her mother at every turn even into her adult years.
The beginning chapters of the book tell of how Lucinda’s parents met and the eventual death of her father when she was only two. From there we are introduced to the never-ending criticism, punishments, and agony that Lucinda as a child endured. It is heartbreaking reading her words begging for a cuddle or a word of love and compassion from the women that called herself her mother. As a teen, the typical back and forth arguments continued, the younger generation is ungrateful, they need to do their part, so selfish, these are common themes even today we hear about the millennials. With Lucinda though, it is deeper, her mother really did expect her to do everything for her, and even when she did it was never good enough. The emotional struggle and need for love and acceptance is one that many readers can relate to, those that live with constant mental abuse will relate to Lucinda and see how she coped with the abuse while understanding why she continues to have a relationship with her mother.
Once Lucinda meets and marries Jeremy her life adventures take off. They never stay in one place long, always moving from one job to the next, involving everything from traveling encyclopedia sales to sketchy engineering jobs in South Africa. In a way Lucinda traded one form of abuse for another, she loves Jeremy but he takes advantage of her and plays on her need to be loved. This is the part of the story where you read and think ‘is this real?’ how can one person put up with so much? That, I think, is the real story behind this book. You can survive though mental abuse even when that abuse spans the majority of your life.
Throughout the book, Lucinda finds a way to make the best of her situation. She is willing to work be it animal breeding, filling, cleaning hotel rooms or writing. She never gave up no matter where she lived or what was going on with her and Jeremy, or her children, or her mother, she pushed forward and didn’t just survive the abuse, she made something of her life that she is proud of and even enjoyed at times. It is emotional, and at times hard to read; but Lucinda will make you believe anything is possible to overcome with the right mindset.
Pages: 239 | ASIN: B00E8HSNDW
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Fractured details your revelations and strides toward bettering yourself both mentally and physically. What was the inspiration that made you want to capture your experiences in a book?
I originally started writing the book as a form of therapy, a way to help get the trauma, events and details of the accident out of my body and mind. Then around my 30th birthday, I had a breakdown. I felt like a failure, I thought I should have been at a different place in my life, I thought I should have accomplished more. After many therapy sessions and allowing myself to cry, be mad, and feel all the feelings – I realized I had so much more to share than just the details of the accident. I took a step back and saw how hard I had fought to be healthy and have a successful life. I knew at that point that my book was supposed to be about that. I wanted to share my struggles and adversity in hopes of helping others going through something similar.
I greatly appreciated your candor in detailing the obstacles you faced and I could truly feel the tragedies as well as the victories. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The hardest thing, hands down, to write about was the rape when I was a freshman in college. It was something only my therapist really knew about. I hadn’t even told my parents at the time I was writing it in the book. It brought back all sorts of memories, feelings, and shame. As I was writing it I had to take many breaks, remember that I was not the same person nor in the same place, and keep telling myself I was enough. THEN came the hard part of having to tell my parents about the event. I had hid it from them for 12 years but I knew I needed to tell them before the book came out. Again, all the fears, shame, embarrassment, and emotions came rushing in. But I knew it was something I had to do before I let them read the book – that was probably the only thing they didn’t know about that was in the book. I also knew it was something that I absolutely needed to include in the book since the book is all about finding my voice and sharing my truth. This was a huge part of losing both of those things. I am so thankful to have such supportive, encouraging and loving parents. It was extremely hard for them to hear, but I know it ultimately brought us closer and deepened our relationship.
In Fractured you reveal a past with issues like body dysmorphia and a struggle to find your own voice. What is the message you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope readers can take away the lesson I learned after my 14+ year struggle with diet pills, anorexia, and body dysmorphia… YOU ARE ENOUGH. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The image society portrays that you have to be skin and bones to be beautiful is so distorted. I hope readers, especially young girls can read this and have an “aha moment” before they enter into a self-destructive path. It also my hope that men and women learn that it is ok to be vulnerable, to speak, share, and use your authentic voice, live in their authentic skin, and follow their own rules. Don’t shrink yourself to make others like you. It is not worth it. It is so much more fun to live life celebrating your bigness.
You are the founding director of the nonprofit company Step Up Chicago Playwrights. How did that start and where do you see it going in the future?
I founded what was then Step Up Productions in 2009 with the mission to share truth onstage and inspire the audience to embrace their own personal truths (haha see a pattern?) We had 3 successful seasons of shows in which we chose a social service organization – whose mission matched the theme of the show we were producing- in Chicago to partner with and donate a portion of our proceeds to. In 2015, funding was low and we were struggling to be able to fund our next production. I took a step back and cancelled the remainder of our season. I talked with a mentor, friend, and phenomenal artist in Chicago, Brad Akin, and together we came up with Step Up Chicago Playwrights as it is now. A company that pairs Chicago Communities with local playwrights who will write a play based off that community. Our hope is to make theater sound and look more like Chicago, All of Chicago! I have since taken on an advisory role since I moved to California with my fiancé who was relocated for work and Brad has taken on the Executive Director role. I know the model we have sets us up for success. We are in the process of choosing our first playwright and community to kick off the inaugural year with Step Up Chicago Playwrights.
Fractured is about your journey of self discovery, but it’s also about your family. Was there anything about your family that you only learned through this journey?
In talking with my therapist about different patterns I was trying to break and learn the history of where they started (me always being good, my need to please, not using my voice) I learned a lot about my family. I brought different topics up to my mom and asked her a lot of questions about my young childhood that helped me figure out why I embedded certain thoughts, behaviors and patterns into my system. I have to say, even though it was not always pleasant to learn and a lot of hard work, it was a lot of fun putting all the pieces together and learning why I did and thought certain things.
From the outside looking in, Elizabeth had the perfect life. She had a family who loved her, numerous friends, and a successful career. No one knew the hurt, pain, and angst she hid inside, struggling to keep herself small so that those around her would still like her.
It all came to a head on October 23, 2007, when her parents received a call that she was lying lifeless in the ICU in a hospital in Utah — “You better get out here, your daughter is not going to make it.” Fractured: My Journey Back From Death and the Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way is the memoir of Elizabeth’s recovery, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is about her deliberate decision to begin the hard work finding and using her voice and the struggle to break out of the box that society tried to keep her in.
This is the story of what happens when one woman stared death in the face and decided to make a conscious choice not to go back to sleep, but to wake up and live the life she knew she was meant to live.
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Glossolalia is a thrilling ride through the mind of a woman who is seemingly normal but her life slowly unfolds to reveal something bizarre. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I have a keen interest in mind control of individuals, and the way controlling each individual can effectively affect a large number of people. All my life I’ve studied in depth the methods that agencies such as the CIA has historically used, and they often have manipulated people’s interest in the occult. And that seems like a topic rich with dramatic fictional possibilities, especially for Psychological Suspense, in which gaslighting is such a common element.
I know I love that electric shudder I get when realize something is not what I thought it was, when I’m just starting to put the pieces together and it’s first making sense, grim as the truth may be. I wanted to give readers that entertainment as well.
Nancy, is like many women at first, but she suffers from narcolepsy and has an addiction to pills that she is trying to kick. How her character unfolds and develops is fascinating. What was your plan as you wrote Nancy’s character?
The only way she can explain her fugues at first is to believe she has narcolepsy, but when she discovers what she does during her periods of amnesia, she realizes her problem is something entirely different from that illness. Similarly, she thinks she’s addicted to the pills to keep hallucinations and delusions at bay, but once she manages to stop taking them, she realizes her visions have been actual memories.
My plan with her was to create an anti-hero who finds a way to redeem herself while staying true to the dubious skills she’s been taught all her life. And she gives readers a way to inhabit the sympathetic victim as well as to perhaps develop compassion for people who are compelled to commit violent acts. In a way, she stands for all of us, because everyone has fallen prey to disinformation at some point, and thus has been an unwilling promulgator of it. And all of us have some chance at heroically redeeming ourselves for that, though of course, I don’t promote violence in any way.
There are a lot of fantastic twists in this novel along with a variety of surprises that kept me turning pages. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did the story develop organically?
I planned it out to make sure all the plot points, pinch points, act breaks and all were in proper order. However, as I wrote it, I got new ideas for twists that were great fun to conceive of. For example, Brandon the YouTube conspiracy journalist with gigantism wasn’t in the completed first draft. Just as much as I enjoy the shudder of realization, I love the feeling of coming up with new plot twists. It feels delightful.
Glossolalia is book one in the Agents of the Nevermind series. Where does book two, Remember to Recycle, take readers?
People who like Glossolalia will probably like Remember to Recycle because it falls within the same genre categories including Conspiracy Thriller and Political Thriller, and while book one focuses on how coups are created, book two focuses on how proxy wars are created. In both cases, the emphasis is on how intelligence agents deceive the public into going along with the terrible treatment of other countries for profit motive, while pretending it’s for humanitarian aid.
Glossolalia referenced our society’s history, particularly related to intelligence agencies, as a foundation for the series, as well as a pattern of coups that’s been recurring for a very long time; Remember to Recycle specifically addresses what’s happening right now. It goes into all the types of trafficking that go along with war, which is the secondary meaning of the title.
However, the first meaning of the title is more obvious, because a major character is Dave, a homeless man who survives by going through people’s recycling bins and selling the stuff, like all the other guys on the street. But he comes up with a brilliant plan. As in Glossolalia, there’s a darkly humorous aspect to it, and he provides a lot of that. He was really fun for me to write, especially as it’s first person present tense, while he describes his life moment by moment to the “character” he affectionately calls Mr. Interrogator. He’s got a hell of a personality. He likes to wear a wide variety of costumes that he keeps under the bridge, and fancies himself an actor of sorts. He idolizes the Rescuers, who are based on the White Helmets.
No one but her uncle would hire Nancy, considering her habit of snapping out of amnesiac fugues, wondering where she got her bruises and the scent of men’s cologne. When she sees a crime of poison in progress at the company, she chases the truck carrying away the chemical legally deemed too toxic to use or to dump. Her pursuit leads to a convoluted world of political intrigue, esoteric rituals and an arcane Elizabethan spy code, and assassinations she never imagined – though her imagination is what holds that world together.
This conspiracy novel introduces a young woman with an ambiguous past involving herself in a killer organization with one layer after another of her psyche. DARK, even possibly DISTURBING ROMANCE, is key to finding elusive authenticity.
The old cartoonish formula of good CIA VS bad guys no longer is fresh and relevant. Though through a fictionalized agency, the books in this series, like Barry Eisler’s spy thrillers, explore the shady side of the CIA secret psy-ops, covert experiments, illusions, coups, media theater, psychological warfare, and illicit methods of funding. The Agents of the Nevermind series dares to explore the edgiest controversies and the convoluted lives intelligence agents must endure as they create bizarre delusions for the world in order to hide the truth about their nation’s financial foundation.
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