Working With Robert Ludum On My Game of Counter-Espionage
By Sandford Tuey
In a lifetime there are a finite number of important moments ranging from the day you got married, the birth of your children, successes at your work and achievements throughout your personal life. I have had quite a lot of these life changing moments. Sure, dreaming the Bruce Lee board game started my excellent journey from being an employee, to an employer and changed my life for the better. Creating, developing, prototyping, overseeing it’s printing and production and marketing this spy game to groups such as JC Penny, London Drugs, Virgin UK, the Bay and many mom and pop hobby, game and comic stores worldwide. All from my basement in Penticton, “where the sun and the fun never set”!!
I even negotiated a fantastic contract with Bantam DoubleDay Dell (Ludlum’s major book publisher). After flying to New York, USA (for the third time), I was able to convince them to let my company use their copyright image (a circle with colored rays flaring out to the edge of the book). All Ludlum’s books used this unique design and I knew if I could also use this branded look, it would draw his millions and millions of fans to pick up my game thinking it was his latest hard cover novel. Once they held it in their hand they immediately realized it was not a book, but a book sized spy board game with substantial weight, meaning, it had great perceived value and justified the $20 US price. On the cover were the Ludlum/Bantam colors, highlighting a circle off-center with an intelligence agent talking into a radio phone within it. This worked perfectly every time, we sold everything we manufactured.
Even though I never met Ludlum personally (one of my favourite authors), I managed to talk to his agent Mimi Shapiro and submit three handmade computerized prototypes for him to review and approve. He rejected all three samples over a year and a half, but each time he got a sample he would tell his agent that he did not want to be involved. I would ask Mimi why Ludlum rejected that version and I took these complaints and removed them or enhanced them because they were vital to the spy tradecraft and I wanted to have the game be as realistic as possible. After sending Ludlum the third version, which incorporated all his changes, he became very interested and he personally called me from his home in Florida. He said that if I made a couple more minor enhancements, he would endorse my spy game and even allow me to use his name, image and a comment from him, “Come join me in a game of wits and fun!” Persistence pays off.
Technically, I came up with the Game of Counter-Espionage game concept and functional playing system over a four year period. With Ludlum’s suggestions and complaints he co-designed my game with me. I couriered the final board game prototype for him to review and sign off on. Which he did!! We talked many times, him in Florida and me in Vancouver. We couriered packages between us to ensure the layout of the game and color combinations were perfect and agreeable to both of us. We decided we would write a short story titled, ‘Game of Counter-Espionage’ which was condensed down to a page. It added flavor to the game and allowed me to claim that I am the only Canadian to co-write with Robert Ludlum.
Ludlum explained that he was never in the intelligence industry and taught me how he writes his novels, how he obtains the extraordinary detail of locations around the world. He taught me how to tax deduct almost everything. Things like your vehicle, maintenance cost, cleaning, tires, parts, fuel, and any lease payments if you have them (which I was paying monthly for my new 1988 Ford Turbocoupe Thunderbird).
He would bring his wife on worldwide trips to foreign cities and exotic locations (she was made to be his assistant for each trip making her a tax deductible expense). Most everything they ever purchased he would ensure they got a receipt and enjoying their holiday. Every time he saw a great location or landmark in a city, she would photograph the area (as tourists always do) and he would jot down notes about the streets, buildings, people and other items of interest. They would even enter buildings just to ensure he would describe the interior in perfect detail, while Mrs. Ludlum snapped her vacation pictures. When they got home from their world trip, she would get doubles of each photograph (tax deductible) and he would put his notes into a file folder with the pictures, Everything associated with their trip is tax deductible. The transportation during the trip, planes, trains, taxis, rental vehicles and their wining and dining plus all hotel costs.
Ludlum proudly explained that you don’t have to make money to make what he does to be tax deductible, but to have the intent to write a book, even if you never write it. The key is ‘intent’. Once I understood how this is legal and what the rich do, I started to keep every receipt I could and enjoyed life more and paid less tax! Legally!!! I am writing my book, ‘How To Find Success: From The Mind To The Market.’ Want to be successful? Write a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, then write on one side, the top ten things you love to do. On the other side, write down the things you really don’t like to do. Do the things you love to do as much as possible and assign others to do those items you don’t like to do!! Your life will change for the better and success is guaranteed. It may take a week, or a year, or even a decade or two and a lot of work, but at least you will be doing what you love and not slaving away under economic servitude for someone else! Self employment is the best choice I ever made!!
Good luck with your future!!