Not long ago I began work on a new novel based on a theory I’ve held for some time that the spies we have in prison knew more than they ever told us because we didn’t ask the right questions. I’m twelve thousand words into the first draft and I think it will be a good book but my conundrum is that regardless of how well I craft the story I don’t think it’s going to match what is happening in the real world.
“Conversations with a Traitor” is based on a series of cases I was involved with but for each revelation I plan in the outline I open the news feed and something in the day’s news seems even more traitorous or more subversive than what I learn from the imprisoned spies. Suffice to say that several foreign entities have, over the years, invested lots of time, money and effort in supporting groups and individuals who seek to partition the United States by sowing the seeds of dissension. My unpublished novel “They’ve Crossed the Rubicon” is about such a long term program started by the Soviet Union and continued by Russia. It is predicated on a statement made by the former chief of the Psychological Operations section of the KGB, Igor Panarin who, in 1998 predicted the breakup of the US by 2010. I wrote the novel in 2012 and many of the things I wrote about have come to pass. It took a while to get it approved by the CIA’s Publications Review Board. By the time I had it cleared events in the real world had overtaken the novel’s story line and while I have a prepublication copy on my bookshelf no one else will have a chance to read it.
Trying to craft a spy novel that doesn’t stray too far from reality today is almost impossible. Between the number of Americans spying for foreign services, the number of politicians who are pushing an authoritarian government model, and the media which seems complicit with the latter and understanding of the former, creating a fiction that is entertaining while being believable is decidedly difficult. What once was the stuff of fiction has now become reality, proving the adage, “Truth is Stranger than Fiction.”