Torn From Real Life by Karna Small Bodman
“Where do you get your ideas?” That’s a question most authors get on their book tours. When I decided I wanted to write novels, specifically political thrillers, I knew that I could pick up any morning newspaper and see a veritable petri dish of plot points. But the more I thought about it, I knew that “being there” was even better.
I served six years in the Reagan White House, first as Deputy Press Secretary, later as Senior Director and Spokesman for the National Security Council. There were so many events and crises during that time (and, of course, some occur in every administration), I realized I could focus on some of those, along with settings in the Situation Room — where we had our morning meetings – and even weave in some of the characters who populate the West Wing.
The first event that is seared in my memory occurred about nine weeks after the inauguration. The date was March 30. I was scheduled to be in the car with Press Secretary Jim Brady on that date. But I stayed back at the last minute to finish up some work. If I had gone to the President’s speech at the Hilton Hotel that day, as scheduled, I would have been standing right next to Jim when John Hinkley fired those six shots in three seconds, combat style with two hands. The bullet that hit the President was lodged one inch from his heart!
How many times have we read thrillers featuring a man with a gun or a hospital scene or the “just missed” scenario that saved a life? That time it was all too true.
I’ve used many other events in my four published thrillers, such as the strike by the Air Traffic Controllers, the shooting down of a Korean jetliner with an American Congressman on board as well as the President’s focus on the idea of missile defense (or “Star Wars” as it was dubbed in the press).
In my new novel, Castle Bravo, a woman on The White House staff receives intelligence about a possible new weapon (which, in fact is all too real). It could “fry” all electronics on the ground. We would have no electricity, communications, refrigeration, sanitation, transportation. As a Major General explained to me, “It would set us back to the year 1910.” In the midst of this thriller, there is political intrigue, an international plot and yes, even a romantic twist.
The great writer Anne Tyler was once asked, “Why do you write novels?” She had an interesting answer. She said, “I write so that I may experience more than one life.” How true! I have an additional reason – I’m trying to call attention to national security threats to our country, but by creating a thriller that people will enjoy, while at the same time “getting the message.” After all, it was George Bernard Shaw who wrote, “The best way to get your point across is to entertain.”
If readers would like to check out the story of Castle Bravo, simply go to my website: www.karnabodman.com where you’ll find a link to read the first five chapters (free, of course). Now, I just hope you like the story.
The Honorable Karna Small Bodman served in The White House, first as Deputy Press Secretary and later as Senior Director of the National Security Council. At the time of her departure, she was the highest-ranking woman on The White House staff. She also spent fifteen years as a reporter, television news anchor and political commentator in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York City. For more information, visit karnabodman.com
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