Russian hacking: trying to write fiction as strange as the truth.

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How to write a novel inspired by current political facts, when those facts become steadily more incredible than most works of fiction? That’s the problem I faced writing “Deep Strike,” a novel, as the promo says, about “Russian hacking, rogue CIA agents, and a new American president.” Indeed, this week, when the book went on sale on Amazon (and on demand at most local book stores), the story took an even more outrageous twist with the revelation of emails implicating the President’s namesake son and top campaign advisers even deeper in the Russian hacking scandal.

I began the book with this Forward:

“Like most works of fiction, this is one that began with a “what if.”

What if, I wondered after the last presidential race, what if a small handful of CIA agents who investigated Russian hacking, were outraged by the blatant interference in America’s democratic process?

What if those agents were infuriated by the unwillingness of congressional leaders to react to their findings, and further inflamed by the refusal of the new president to acknowledge that the hacking had even taken place?

What if they were scandalized by the fact that America’s intelligence agencies and colossal military force would now be under the command of that same new feckless leader?

What if, pushed to the breaking point by the death of a colleague, three of those agents go rogue to take on the President and all his vast powers, and attempt to drive him from office?

To write this fiction, I made use of voluminous news reports about the U.S. and Russia, accounts of America’s vast intelligence apparatus that the president controls. I received valuable input from a plastic surgeon, from an expert on Moscow, from hackers and cyber professionals.

But the characters in this novel – their backgrounds, their thoughts and words and interactions – are all invented. The crimes and corruption my agents uncover, the climactic ending to their struggle, are all spun from my own imagination.

It’s all fiction. It never happened.

But could it?”

(If you’re interest has been piqued, here’s how the book beings.)

CHAPTER ONE: Fountainhead Regional Park

Brian Hunt was fired up, an explosion of energy, as he tore up the Bear Claw Run, the most grueling mountain bike course in northern Virginia. The young CIA officer powered through it every Saturday morning. Pumping and slithering around the switchbacks and boulders, he pounded away with sinewy legs and core muscles of iron. The image of a pouncing tiger leapt across the front of his crimson crash helmet.

He leaned back in his seat and let out a primal scream of rage, venting the fury and frustration he’d been accumulating over the past few months. Who wouldn’t be outraged? After half a year of investigation, the team led by the CIA had nailed it. They’d uncovered chapter and verse on Russian hacking of the U.S. elections. They’d briefed the Oval Office, the top people in the administration, the heads of the intelligence community, the leaders in congress. And, as the story leaked—as it was bound to—they’d generated headlines across the country, and around the world

And what had happened? Nothing. Their findings were ignored by congressional leaders; played down by the wimp in the White House; derided during the campaign by the Republican candidate, Walter Stokes, who—incredibly---was now the new president. It was scandalous. Who knew what Stokes owed to the Russians? Who knew what deals had been made by those around him?

Yet no one was willing to act—not Congress of course, controlled by the Republicans; not even the members of his own CIA team---yellow-bellied chickenshits. It was nauseating. Instead of reacting to the outrage, they’d crawled into their offices to lick their wounds. And he’d been a fool, dedicating his life, sacrificing his family—Joanne and the kids—supposedly for the national good. Such crap. He’d make it up to them.

The muscles in his thighs and gut were burning, his heart pounded in his chest, another switchback, and suddenly he was at the summit, looking out over the Occoguqna Reservoir far below. But no time to savor the view. A sharp right and the course dropped away. He was picking up speed, skidding and swerving, the wind whistling by his body. He let loose another wild howl that echoed off the mountain side. Faster and faster now--the wild temptation to let everything out balanced against the need to brake and buck around the boulders and switchbacks he knew lay just ahead.

He skidded through a corrugated patch of mud and leaves, then shifted his weight to handle the most treacherous switchback of the run. He could manage it easily, knowing it was there. He slithered around a sharp turn to the left, then rattled along a narrow rock ledge. There was a clearing in the woods on one side, on the other an ancient wooden barrier—the only thing that stood between him and the cliff that dropped precipitously to the ravine far below.

Suddenly, two masked figures dressed in khaki and wielding rifles rose from the clearing on the left and lunged towards him. “What the fuck!” screamed Brian, instinctively swerving around his assailants. He felt a huge blow on the back of his head and heard his helmet crack as he went sprawling in the deep grass of the clearing. He was on his back, trying to gather his senses, when another masked face loomed into his vision. All he could see were the emerald green eyes. He felt a cloth cover his nose and just managed to recognise the faint ether-like smell before he passed out.

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“Deep Strike” is available on Amazon at on demand at local bookstores.

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