On May 2, 2011, a U.S. Navy Seal team found and killed bin Laden in Pakistan.
My new novel, THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS, starts with a U.S. raid on an al-Qaeda cell in Pakistan.
As we know, there’s been a fair amount of question about why we didn’t trust Pakistan enough to tell them we’d located bin Laden.
In the very first line of the new novel, a rookie FBI agent asks one of the lead agents on the raid, “Who of these guys do you trust?” Referring to the Pakistani cops and ISI agents they were conducting the raid with. In fact, a fairly significant part of the plot of the novel involves the question of exactly who in the Pakistani government knew what when.
Wow, Mark, pat yourself on the back, you must really be an expert on these things.
Ahem. Well, I don’t know about expert. I’m not even sure knowledgeable is the right word. How about: informed.
It’s not been a huge secret that the U.S.’s relationship with Pakistan has been rather tenuous in regards to fighting al-Qaeda and that we (meaning the U.S. government and military) have a great many doubts about who they can trust in this.
So I got that right, did my reading, paid attention.
Hell, I got lucky. When you write novels that reflect real-life events, you’re gambling that real life doesn’t change while you’re doing the writing. John Sandford wrote some wonderful novels about a computer hacker/painter/thief, but it’s tough to write about computers without it seeming stale by the time the book gets published. Dick Francis wrote a novel about computers back in the 1980s that’s pretty much unreadable now. I wrote one about computers, DIRTY DEEDS, and people have asked me why I didn’t follow up, and although there are a lot of answers to that question, one answer is: it’s too hard to write relevant fiction about computer hackers. It moves too fast.
So I’m more than happy to accept any accolades about the “timeliness” of my fiction, while still happily muttering to myself, “Thank God I didn’t write it about bin Laden.”
I’m sure that when the news of bin Laden’s assassination came out, you could hear a few hundred screams of thriller authors who were 50,000 words into a novel about hunting down bin Laden.
Yeah, I dodged that bullet.
How about you? Ever finished a manuscript only to find it mirrors real life too well (or not enough?) Or that other doorway to hell, finish off your manuscript then have a bestselling author like Stephen King or John Grisham come out with a novel with a very, very similar plot?