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Why do you tell stories?I got used to being paid to lie in my old career and I wanted the paychecks to continue.More seriously, storytelling is a huge part of working undercover. Huge. You have to create a persona, live a cover story, and disguise your intentions – and you have to do it convincingly. I discovered that I was pretty good at storytelling while working for the CIA. I’m also a lifelong bookworm – a true book lover – so stepping into fiction after leaving the espionage business felt like the most natural thing in the world.
You're former CIA. What can you tell us about the CIA that most people don't know or wouldn't expect?- There’s a Starbucks inside CIA headquarters. And a Dunkin’ Donuts.- The CIA has a writers’ club. I was a member, but I traveled too much to make many of the meetings.- The CIA has a dedicated publication review board. Like all CIA officers, I’m required to submit my writing to them prior to publication for the rest of my life. (They even reviewed this blog interview!)- CIA officers hate being called spies. They’re not spies – spies are people who commit espionage against their own country. CIA officers RECRUIT spies.- The overwhelming majority of CIA employees are not undercover.
What kind of person becomes a spy?May I let one of my characters from CLOAKS AND VEILS answer that question? Here’s Caitlin (she has good reason to be cynical), on page 53:“You know, the people who recruit CIA officers think that they’re looking for Boy Scouts. The perfect patriot who speaks four languages, ties sailor knots, jumps out of airplanes, and goes to church on Sundays. But you know what they really want? They want people who can cheat and lie and steal—and then go to church on Sundays without the least bit of remorse. They need people with a hidden dark side.”