What made you want to start writing fiction?--Marshal Zeringue
Well it’s nothing that I had anticipated doing … that’s for sure. If the leak of my name didn’t happen. I would be overseas right now, working for the government, trying to make sure the bad guys don’t get nuclear weapons. Making my government salary. And really feeling … satisfaction. But obviously things didn’t turn out that way. After “Fair Game” came out, my publisher approached and asked me how I felt about fiction. I thought, “Alrighty, let’s see how this goes!” I wanted to develop a strong female CIA character. Because what’s out there is just insane. It’s just eye-rolling. They’re sexy. They’re eye candy. They’re good with guns. But it has nothing to do with how intelligence is realistically collected.
Do you think that’s still the general cultural perception? “Homeland” is a different story.
There is certainly persistent sexism toward what females can and can’t do. But in terms of the CIA, we’re fed a steady diet of James Bond for decades. There’s so many movies that show the CIA is omniscient and far more efficient than it really is. And yet, in most films I’ve seen depicting espionage, I always wait for the moment when it starts veering off into the crazy. I did recently see “A Most Wanted Man,” and it did capture the ambiguities and the waiting. It also showed how gray Hamburg is. It captured the essence of intelligence collection. Notice there was not one gun. It’s very hard to collect intelligence when...[read on]