Karna Small Bodman served in the White House for six years, first as deputy press secretary and later as senior director of the National Security Council. At the time of her departure, she was the highest-ranking woman on the White House staff.
She is also the author of the political thrillers Checkmate and its forthcoming sequel, Gambit.
Last month The Rap Sheet caught up with the author. Ali Karim provided a little background, then turned it over to Bodman who explained more about her pre-writer experiences and the story behind her books.
Her account opens:
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 Ronald Reagan. I was Jim’s deputy at the time. At the last minute, Jim said, “You know, there’s a lot of work to do here, a ton of press calls to return. Why don’t you stay back--I can handle this one alone. It’s no big deal--just a speech to some union group over at the Hilton. I’ll be back around 2:30.” He never came back.Read more of The Rap Sheet entry "Being There."
As we all remember, when Jim and President Reagan walked out of the hotel, John Hinkley fired six shots in three seconds, combat style, with two hands using a devastation bullet that was supposed to explode inside the victim. It didn’t explode, because he was using a smaller gun--a 22. Later, after surgery, we learned, but never announced to the country, that the bullet was lodged one inch from the president’s heart.
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 a lot of time reflecting on those personal experiences, figuring out that I had a lot of material for a series of political thrillers. Authors are always asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Of course, any daily newspaper gives a writer a veritable Petri dish of plot points, but I decided that “being there” is even better.
The Page 69 Test: Checkmate and Gambit.