It’s that time of the year when I dust off my file of interesting news stories and compare them to plots, elements, and characters I’ve devised during my writing career. As always, the goal is to determine if the world has become as crazy as my imagination. So let’s see how I did…
A few weeks before I delivered the Lethal Agent manuscript to my editor, an interesting article about ISIS came across my desk: The group had been looking for scientists and a young sympathizer with a PhD in medicinal chemistry and drug design answered the call. The terrorists had top-notch supplies, well-equipped labs, and a knowledgeable team whose goal was to make bioweapons. Fortunately this guy was caught before he could make my plotline a reality.
Here’s an eerie coincidence…
This year’s Lethal Agent tour talk had lots of details about my research for the book, which involved a deadly SARS-like virus. As I was wandering around the house, considering facts I wanted to share about the Spanish flu and the plague, a story about a looming apocalyptic pandemic hit my news feed. Suddenly the scary scenarios I’d been researching from 100-600 years ago felt way too close to home.
One month later, a critical pandemic preparedness program was canceled by the US government. It made me think of Mitch Rapp’s frustration with politicians and the fact that instead of heading off threats, they expect him to deal with them after they’ve come to the boiling point.
Order to Kill
If you wanted to overthrow the Saudi government, how would you do it? In 2016’s Order to Kill, the chief of Saudi intelligence and ISIS bombed the country’s oil infrastructure. The idea was that when the economy inevitably collapsed, the royalty would be vulnerable.
Fast forward to 2019 when two major Saudi oil facilities were attacked, taking out about half of their production capacity. The country’s leadership survived, but it was certainly a wake-up call for both them and anyone dependent on Middle Eastern oil.
My 1995 debut novel, Rising Phoenix, featured a fanatic who attempted to end the use of narcotics in America by poisoning them during manufacture and distribution. The big question in the book was: Would addicts stop using if they knew they might get ahold of tainted drugs and die?
In November, a story came out about the prevalence of fentanyl-laced cocaine and how it’s killing an increasing number of users. Interestingly, the popularity of cocaine isn’t dwindling in the face of this risk, it’s booming. So now I know the answer to my question. People who like to get high aren’t so easily deterred.