The outline for Cesare F. Ros--ati's first novel was one sentence long. It read: "A group of people secretly build a space launch facility." And that's all he knew about the plot and the characters of what he hoped would be the first novel in a five book series.
For 40 years, Rosati had written poetry, and for 40 years, he has struggled to get published.
"There is no market for poetry," he said. "No matter how much people love poetry, they just don't buy it."
So he decided to write a novel. He made a deal with himself that he wouldn't publish the first novel until he had written three. He didn't want to start a project he couldn't finish.
He started writing "Prairie Dogs PPL," released this week, in 1997. It took him 18 months to write.
"It just flowed out," he said. "The story told itself. As I wrote, I got to know these characters and the characters told me what to say."
The novel is partly a story of science fiction and partly a story of political intrigue that takes place in 2012. It has nothing to do with prairie dogs.
The book is written in a nontraditional style that weaves memos and meeting agendas with pages of dialogue. Rosati likens it to a screenplay in which the story is told scene by scene.
"As a poet, I am used to telling the whole story in four or eight stanzas," Rosati said. "I still think in sections."
Rosati was born in Italy and moved to Buffalo, N.Y., with his family as a 9-year-old. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, spent his career first in the military and then in Washington, D.C.
The majority of his work was done at the height of the Cold War.
"The U.S. government, along with their allies at the time, formed a secret group whose sole purpose was to keep high technology goods out of the hands of countries like Libya, China and Russia," Rosati said. "When they first formed, they held meetings in a sub-basement in Paris to determine what products would be restricted and which should be on the open market. At first, I started as a member of the group, and by the end, I was the head of it." In 1995, Rosati retired from his government position and moved to Steamboat Springs.
"Prairie Dogs PPL" unfolds during a presidential election. The book is full of the insights and observations of a political insider.
To publish his book, Rosati started his own company called the Accede Press. Although his new press, he also plans to publish poetry books by himself and others.
"I want to give poets a chance to get their work out," he said. "I suffered for so long as a poet, this is a way I can help others."