I was scheduled to be in the staff car with White House Press Secretary Jim Brady on March 30, 1981 – the day of the assassination attempt against President Reagan. I was Jim’s Deputy at the time. At the last minute, Jim said, “There’s a lot of work to do today – a lot of press calls to return. Why don’t you stay back. I can handle this one alone – you go tomorrow. This is just a speech to some union group over at the Hilton. I’ll be back around 2:30.” As we all know, he never came back. That day, along with many others will always be seared in my memory, and when I sat down to write my first novel CHECKMATE, I spent time reflecting on those personal experiences, figuring I had a ton of material for a series of political thrillers.
Authors are always asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Of course, any daily newspaper offers a veritable Petri dish of plot points, but I decided that “being there” is even better. When I later took the job as Senior Director of the National Security Council, we were dealing with crises almost on a daily basis – any one of which could be turned into a pretty good novel: the attempted assassination of the Pope, the terrorist attack on the cruise ship, “Achille Lauro,” the shooting down of the Korean jetliner with an American Congressman on board (I use that one in the sequel, GAMBIT, out next February), the explosion of the space shuttle with the school teacher on board as well as the usual conflicts with Congress.
The actual inspiration for CHECKMATE President Reagan’s announcement of his program to develop a missile defense system (“Star Wars” as some dubbed it). So I put together a story about a beautiful young scientist who invents a breakthrough technology for a missile defense system, foreign agents trying to steal it, a handsome National Security Council staffer trying to help her, and a lecherous Congressman more interested in her bod than funding her project (just trying to make it authentic!)
I wanted to weave in a romantic sub-plot – always a challenge in a fast-paced thriller. After all, how quickly can they get together when dealing with a count-down? But check my website: www.karnabodman.com for more on the story. I also keep the romance going in GAMBIT where a love triangle develops involving the charismatic Vice President of the U.S. Bottom line: with these stories, I want readers (men as well as women) to feel like White House “insiders” showing scenes in the Oval Office, the Situation Room and providing a seat at classified briefings. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The best way to get your point across is to entertain.” And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do!
Now, I’ve been on a crazy book tour with over 80 speeches/events for groups around the country (my husband says I’m certifiable!) Again, there are details of many events on my website: www.karnabodman.com. If you’re nearby – please stop and say hello or drop me a note. I’d love to be in touch.