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La Jolla writer’s latest book delves into crime, politics and ignorance

 “Clear Blue Silence” by author Allan Havis
“Clear Blue Silence” is “about social relations set against an academic landscape that looks at crime, law enforcement [and] political thresholds,” says author Allan Havis.
(Provided by Allan Havis)

UC San Diego professor Allan Havis’ ‘Clear Blue Silence’ is his first novel for adults.

Taking on a new genre, La Jollan Allan Havis has published his first novel for adults, a story that uses multiple plot lines to explore an “uncomfortable truth.”

Havis, a professor in UC San Diego’s Department of Theatre & Dance, said the novel, released Nov. 1 and titled “Clear Blue Silence,” is “about social relations set against an academic landscape that looks at crime, law enforcement [and] political thresholds.”

The main character, a film studies professor at a Southern California university, visits his family and family cemetery in New York at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and receives a letter regarding his father’s debt to someone in an organized crime ring.

“The gangster makes an unusual request to the film professor,” Havis said, that has “tremendous consequences down the road.”

“There’s much discovery in the book … the protagonist seems to be the most ignorant person on the planet,” Havis said. “He’s actively learning what’s the real story, rather than what was the acknowledged story.”

UCSD professor Allan Havis wrote plays, operas, two young-adult novels and more before authoring his first novel for adults.
UC San Diego professor Allan Havis wrote plays, operas, two young-adult novels and more before authoring his first novel for adults.
(Provided by Allan Havis)

Havis said the book’s theme is “what is visible is not real and what is unearthed is actually a much more uncomfortable truth.”

The protagonist is “the bucket of a lot of grief and guilt for people connected to him,” Havis added, and he has to answer for others’ poor choices.

Though “Clear Blue Silence” parallels certain elements of Havis’ life, “the whole story is really invented,” he said.

The author previously wrote two young-adult novels, many full-length plays and books on cinema.

He also has written several operas. His 2012 work “Lear on the 2nd Floor,” written with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and fellow UCSD professor Anthony Davis, was in production through Nov. 6 by Eastman School of Music in New York. “Lear on the 2nd Floor,” previously showcased at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts in 2012 and the Conrad Prebys Music Center at UCSD in 2013, is Davis and Havis’ “modern interpretation of Lear as [having] dementia,” Havis said.

“Clear Blue Silence” was Havis’ “tactical bet that if I were to spend a year writing something new, maybe a novel would be a little more pragmatic” during the pandemic, he said.

“I wanted to have more time to put into a creative piece description rather than dialogue,” he added.

The transition from playwright to novelist is not unusual, Havis said. “You’re allowed to cross lanes; you don’t get a ticket.”

To that end, Havis has just finished his second adult novel, “Maddie Q,” about a 24-year-old woman in San Diego “who falls into the rabbit hole of [far-right political movement] QAnon” and kidnaps a school board trustee to “take on the educational culture thinking that the school system has gone too crazy,” Havis said.

Havis is shopping “Maddie Q” to publishers.

“Clear Blue Silence” is available at amzn.to/3Usa0So.