Spy Writing in the Real World

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The Intelligence Community has found itself making real world headlines in recent years, but spying has been a staple in fiction writing for decades. Both non-spies and former intel officers have crafted spy thrillers that have won critical and popular praise. What are the differences between writing spy novels with or without previous intelligence experience? What are the challenges of writing realistic spy fiction? How much creative license is needed to make it exciting? How much realism is sacrificed in the process? How do real life spies react to spy fiction? How different is their response to that of the broader public?

Join the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security as senior fellow David Priess talked with critically acclaimed authors Alma Katsu, Karen Cleveland, and Brad Thor about spy writing in the real world and about their exciting new novels.

Award-winning author Alma Katsu a former CIA and NSA analyst, has written five novels prior to RED WIDOW, her first spy novel, which was named in March a NY Times Editor’s Choice and is in development for a TV series with FOX.

Karen Cleveland is a former CIA analyst and the New York Times bestselling author of NEED TO KNOW and KEEP YOU CLOSE. Her third novel, YOU CAN RUN, will be published in August.

Brad Thor is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 21 thrillers. His newest, BLACK ICE, continues the adventures of Scot Harvath, America’s top spy, will be published June 22nd.

The Hayden Center is located at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government in Arlington, VA. General Michael V. Hayden, our founder and former director of CIA and NSA, has been a distinguished visiting professor at Schar School for 11 years. David Priess, COO of The Lawfare Institute, has joined the Schar School as a visiting professor this year.

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