New Alternate History Novel Imagines Five More Decades of Beatles Magic

By: Dec. 12, 2017
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New Alternate History Novel Imagines Five More Decades of Beatles Magic

Imagine that The Beatles, the most popular rock-and-roll band the world has ever seen, tried to keep their group together instead of breaking up in 1970.

What new adventures would John, Paul, George, and Ringo have found themselves in? Could they have continued to play for years, like their contemporaries, the Rolling Stones? Was it possible to take a sad song and make it better?

These are the questions that award-winning author Bryce Zabel answers in his new alternate history novel, Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together? (Diversion Books, Trade Paperback Original; $15.99; ISBN 9781682303214).

"I'm a Beatles fan like hundreds of millions of people all over the world," says Zabel, a former CNN correspondent-turned-screenwriter and producer, "but I've tried to write this novel with the eye of a journalist and the heart of a dramatist."

Once There Was a Way reads like a special edition of a music magazine or rock documentary, seamlessly interweaving fact and fiction. In this riveting and surprising account, the musical, cultural, and even political influence of the The Beatles continues into the 1970s and beyond.

As the novel's "Butterfly Effect"-style story unfolds, The Beatles play at Woodstock, party with the Hells Angels, act in director Stanley Kubrick's version of The Lord of the Rings, and even are targeted by both President Nixon's FBI and the radical Weather Underground group at the same time. The book's cast of characters includes Steve Jobs, Johnny Carson, Muhammad Ali, Hunter S. Thompson, Teddy Kennedy, Linda Ronstadt, Ken Kesey, J. Edgar Hoover, Bernardine Dohrn, Jerry Rubin, and, of course, John, Paul, George and Ringo, plus their hugely significant wives; Linda, Yoko, Pattie and Maureen.

The novel will be published by New York's Diversion Books on December 5. It's the latest installment of Breakpoint, an alternate history book series that began with Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas? That 2015 book won the coveted Sidewise Award for Alternate History, whose previous winners include Philip Roth, Michael Chabon and Harry Turtledove.

Early GoodReads reviews, based on Advanced Reader Copies, note the book's alternate history is a "blast to read from cover to cover" and "blends actual social history with fiction skillfully, and intimately takes the reader on a Magical Mystery Tour through a world that could have happened." Another review states, "The attention to detail is amazing and the way the author weaves in truth and fiction is remarkable. There were times when I was like, wait...did that happen or did he make it up?" Zabel includes an end chapter where he clarifies the points of historical departure, and why he chose the paths he did.

Author Bryce Zabel's Stellar Productions is developing Once There Was a Way (and Surrounded by Enemies) as a potential television miniseries to launch the Breakpoint franchise.


Bryce Zabel is a Hollywood writer/producer who's created five primetime TV series, written multiple produced feature films and TV miniseries, worked as a CNN correspondent, and was the first writer since Rod Serling elected to serve as the CEO of the Television Academy that gives out the Emmys. Bryce is a winner himself of the Writers Guild award for his screenwriting work, as well as multiple awards for investigative reporting for PBS. He has taught screenwriting as an Adjunct Professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts at the graduate level. Together with his wife, Jackie, he runs Stellar Productions. The company's latest film, The Last Battle, will be filmed by StudioCanal next spring in Europe.

For more about the book, visit or, find out more on Amazon at, and be sure to check out a music video at!


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