Who’s afraid of the big bad plot?

The other day I was talking to some folks about how I think up plotlines for thrillers. I mentioned that ideas bubble up after I watch the news, and gave an example: Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent speech on the legality of drone strikes that target American citizens. The speech, I said, had got me thinking: What if you were an intelligence analyst tasked with deciding whether to authorize such a strike? What if you alone among your colleagues thought it should be stopped? Or what if you authorized it, and then discovered you targeted the wrong guy? Could there be a story in that?

There could, I thought, and folks agreed. And then some of them wanted to know if I would be scared to write that story. Would I — should I — be afraid that if I wrote that thriller, the government might target me?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Really, no.

I’m not afraid the government would target me — at least not with a drone strike. Over a piece of fiction drawn from publicly stated policy? I must check my ego at the door here, and say I’m just not worth it. The government has plenty of ways to take down people they dislike (see Hoover, J. Edgar; McCarthy, Joseph R.; see also leaks, gossip, surveillance, smear campaigns, etc.) and plenty of paranoia to go around. But I’m not afraid that they’re going to pull a page from Three Days of the Condor and send Max Von Sydow to my house to silence me. Call me naive, but I ain’t worth it.

On the other hand, if I ever expose NASA’s evil conspiracy to cover up the “Lost Day in Time” that “proves” Genesis is literally true…

2 responses to “Who’s afraid of the big bad plot?

  1. There’s a very sophisticated infrastructure that can deal with the eccentric at the top (see damage not done by lunatic Bush for eg; controlled by advisors i’d say). We rely on it and this educated elite to keep us relatively safe here in the good ol’ west. I’d lump us in the UK with this analysis with my broad brush.

    Will it always remain this way? I doubt it. All those things – from leaks to smears – have existed before. Russia, East Germany etc. Of course, it could never happen here…

  2. “The government” also knows that taking out an author with a drone would only guarantee instant bestseller status for all the author’s books and an Oliver Stone movie deal. Hmmm, I’m thinking…

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