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Monday, May 7, 2012

When Fiction and Reality Collide

Writing is a strange enough profession, but more so when it seems there's a touch of prescience involved. For those who have read Jules Verne's novels, this isn't particularly a surprise - he predicted submarines, nuclear power and the flight to the moon. There have been other instances, of course.
This is the third or fourth time it has happened to me, especially with the novel Nike's Wings.
I can't even say that I was driven to write it. On the contrary, it was pulled out of me kicking and screaming, powered by a song I couldn't get out of my head She Don't Want the World by 3 Doors Down. All it took was that song, and I was off.
I'm a collector of extraneous information, an avid reader of newspapers and news feeds. It all came together in this book - an assassin once known as Carlos the Jackal, a story about kidnapped oil workers held for five years and a Colombian politician (female) and her companions held for six, some bits and pieces of the political situation (thanks to my editor for keeping my timeline consistent) in the US and elsewhere.
Now, the CIA isn't known for female agents (Valerie Plame notwithstanding), certainly not as field agents, but that was my postulation for Nike.
I no sooner finished the novel and published it than a tidbit of information surfaced about a previous Vice President - part of the back story in the novel - who might have been running his own private division of the CIA. I also learned that renditions - kidnapping suspected terrorists to have the tortured in other countries - had begun much earlier than many suspected. Early enough to make one chapter of my book completely accurate.
At the same time, another book I had written - Irish Fling, a romantic suspense - suggested a terrorist would be found in Ireland. Shortly thereafter, one did indeed was caught and captured.
Then this week CIA Director Leon Panetta finally honored the first American woman killed in the Vietnam War - CIA Officer Barbara A Robbins - the first of 10 women to fall in the line of duty. Her death has been a mystery until now, her name a star on the wall, her story untold. 
Some of it is purely coincidental, of course. Nike and Barbara Robbins have little or nothing in common, but it is one of those odd twists of fate that confirm that a writer's strange imaginings might not be so strange.
So I honor Ingrid Betancourt, Colombian Presidential candidate who ran on an anti-corruption platform, held for six years by FARC, and CIA Officer Barbara Robbins, who volunteered to go to Vietnam in the midst of the war because 'she wanted to make a difference' according to her father.