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YA A to Z: “Fake News” and Disinformation, a guest post by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Today for YA A to Z author Diana Rodriguez Wallach is talking with us about disinformation and “fake news”.

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I’m often asked, “What sort of research did you do for your novel?” For me, that’s a loaded question. The Anastasia Phoenix series is set around the world, so I traveled overseas to Italy, England, and Brazil to create some of the settings for my novels. That’s research! (Or so I tell my husband.) My books also deal with conspiracy theories of real historical events, so there was a lot of Googling that could have gotten me flagged by the FBI. Then, there were the in-person interviews, the real life people who inspired the characters in my books and who helped me portray the espionage world of disinformation. For me, the most important interview came from a professor at Boston University.

I was a journalism major in college back in the late 1990s. (Yeah, I’m giving my age.) At the time, one of the professors in the College of Communication was a man named Larry Martin Bittman (formerly Ladislav Bittman). He was the former Deputy Director of Disinformation for Czechoslovakia during the Cold War—a real life Communist spy who went on to teach budding journalists how to tell when they were being fed disinformation.

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At the time I started writing PROOF OF LIES, way back in 2008, Trump had yet to coin the term “fake news.” In fact, I hadn’t really heard of the concept outside of wartime propaganda. But because of that professor from BU, who generously met with me in his home in Massachusetts to discuss my novel, I decided to give this specialty to the spies in my book.

fake news | Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour Extra

It’s a research dream come true. Now, not only do I get to wander the streets of Rome claiming I need to taste the gelato for “book research,” but I also get to spend months in a deep dive into conspiracy theories. All of the historical moments I twist in my novels are based on real events. One of my favorite compliments from reviewers is when they state that “The Truth” page at the end of my novels made the books stand out even more.

(FILES) This file picture taken on May 9, 1978 in Via Caetani near the Communist Party headquarters, in central Rome shows Aldo Moro's bullet-riddled body, found in the boot of a car. Thirty years since the Red Brigade leftist militant group killed former prime minister Aldo Moro, many Italians still blame his death on what they see as a self-interested political class. Most remember the moment they learned on March 16, 1978, that the former Christian Democrat leader had been kidnapped and five bodyguards had been killed. Fifty-four days later, on May 9, Moro's body was found in the boot of a car halfway between the Rome headquarters of his party and that of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), symbolising his killers' disdain for Moro's proposed "middle way" associating the two parties. AFP PHOTO/FILES/UPI (Photo credit should read OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

(FILES) This file picture taken on May 9, 1978 in Via Caetani near the Communist Party headquarters, in central Rome shows Aldo Moro’s bullet-riddled body, found in the boot of a car. Thirty years since the Red Brigade leftist militant group killed former prime minister Aldo Moro, many Italians still blame his death on what they see as a self-interested political class. Most remember the moment they learned on March 16, 1978, that the former Christian Democrat leader had been kidnapped and five bodyguards had been killed. Fifty-four days later, on May 9, Moro’s body was found in the boot of a car halfway between the Rome headquarters of his party and that of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), symbolising his killers’ disdain for Moro’s proposed “middle way” associating the two parties. AFP PHOTO/FILES/UPI (Photo credit should read OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

So was Aldo Moro, the prime minister of Italy, really kidnapped, murdered, and left in the trunk of a car in 1978? Yes, and there are a lot of people who don’t believe the Red Brigades, the communist group blamed for the crime, did it. Were hundreds of journalists and military officersunjustly imprisoned in Turkey in 2010 over a fake coup plot? Yes, and to date no one has been brought to justice for those lengthy false imprisonments. Did soccer super star Ronaldo LuísNazário de Lima of Brazil secretly suffer a seizure before the 1998 World Cup but play anyway? Yup, and people still wonder why,especially after the team’s epic loss.

Do tweens and teens believe “fake news”? – Common Sense Media

I understand the urge to roll your eyes at another “fake news” headline, but remember these types of covert campaigns really exist and have been around a long time. Trust me, I know; I did the research, and you can read all about it in PROOF OF LIES, and its new sequel LIES THAT BIND.

If you want to enjoy some more books on disinformation, here are some I read as research:

The Deception Game; by Ladislav Bittman

The KGB and Soviet Disinformation, an Insider’s View; by Ladislav Bittman

The Women of the OSS, Sisterhood of Spies; by Elizabeth P. McIntosh

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About Lies That Bind:

What do you do when you learn your entire childhood was a lie?

Reeling from the truths uncovered while searching for her sister in Italy, Anastasia Phoenix is ready to call it quits with spies. The only way to stop being a pawn in their game is to remove herself from the board. But before she can leave her parents’ crimes behind her, tragedy strikes. No one is safe, not while Department D still exists.

Now, with help from her friends, Anastasia embarks on a dangerous plan to bring down an entire criminal empire. From a fire-filled festival in England to a lavish wedding in Rio de Janeiro, Anastasia is determined to confront the enemies who want to destroy her family. But even Marcus, the handsome bad boy who’s been there for her at every step, is connected to the deadly spy network. And the more she learns about Department D, the more she realizes the true danger might be coming from someone closer than she expects…

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/lies-that-bind.html

 

About Diana Rodriguez Wallach:

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Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix Series, three young adult spy thrillers (Entangled Publishing, 2017, ’18, ‘19). The first book in the trilogy, Proof of Lies, was named by Paste Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Best Young Adult Books for March 2017.” Bustle also listed her as one of the “Top Nine Latinx Authors to Read for Women’s History Month 2017.” Additionally, she is the author of three award-winning young adult novels: Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books); as well as a YA short-story collection entitled Mirror, Mirror (Buzz Books, 2013).

She is an advisory board member for the Philly Spells Writing Center, a school-based Workshop Instructor for Mighty Writers in Philadelphia, and has been a Writing Instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth since 2015. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and currently lives in Philadelphia.

Author Links:

Author Website: dianarodriguezwallach.com

Author Blog: http://dianarwallach.tumblr.com

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dianarwallach

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dianarwallach/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1404210.Diana_Rodriguez_Wallach

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dianawallachauthor/

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