As a child of the ‘sixties I grew up loving spies. Spies were dashing, dangerous, and swoon-worthy. I was too young to see the earliest James Bond films when they came out, but I vividly remember going to the mall with a friend to try to see Thunderball. Sadly, it was sold out, but just making the attempt was forbidden and exciting. So I guess it’s no surprise that the hero of my latest romantic suspense Unwritten Rules is a former spy.
When the book opens, Carter Devlin has retired from the CIA. But since someone is trying to kill him and people from his past appear throughout the story, I wanted to include enough realistic detail to support the suspense. Like most people, my knowledge of spying is limited to what I’ve seen on the big screen. Imagine my delight when a business trip offered the opportunity to learn all about spies, up close and personal!
While I was working on Unwritten Rules, I took a 3-day trip to Baltimore for a conference at a company known for putting on fascinating after-hours field trips. In past years they’d taken participants to a play at the Kennedy Center, behind-the-scenes tours of the Smithsonian, and other special treats. This year they offered a guided tour of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. I was the first one on the bus!
The museum is as intriguing as its subject matter. Exhibits take the visitor through the history of spying with special emphasis on the evolution of spy technology, including examples of real spy gadgets from the early twentieth century through today. They also have interactive experiences that help teach you to think and react like a spy. The last stop is the museum store – a fantastic place! I couldn’t resist buying a copy of The International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical Spying, just what I needed to give my characters the proper verisimilitude.
The Handbook of Practical Spying offers tips on such things as how to do simple encoding to remember names and addresses, how to spot surveillance cameras, and how to adopt a successful cover—all things we, or our fictitious spies, might need to do every day. I didn’t use many of the tips in my book, but I sure had fun getting in the mood.
Here’s a peek at the resulting story:
Things aren’t going Madelyn Li’s way. Her bodyguard agency is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, her grandmother keeps hatching plots to marry her off, and someone is trying to kill her latest client. All she wants is to safely escort thriller writer and former CIA agent Carter Devlin on his cross country book tour and collect her check, but two obstacles stand in her way: a shadowy assailant and her own growing attraction to her dashing client.
Carter Devlin has agreed to accept the beautiful and determined Ms. Li as a bodyguard primarily to appease his publisher. After all, who would want to kill a beat-up, retired ex-spy on a book tour? But when the attacks turn deadly, he soon learns there’s more to Madelyn than a pretty face and tempting body. Will the spark become a flame before a killer snuffs it out?
Unwritten Rules is available at: http://amzn.to/1cl6jDA
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