Sunday, January 7, 2018

How prescient are you?

...by Karna Small Bodman

Here we are in a new year when I like to look ahead, not look back.  I have to admit I've  never been a fan of those articles highlighting "The best headlines of the past year" -- I prefer to think about what the next headlines might be and then analyze whether I could be "prescient" and create a new thriller that is, shall we say, ahead of the game.  

There are many great writers who have predicted important events in a novel. I recall a thriller by one of my favorite authors, former CIA operative, Charles McCarry, described by The Boston Globe as "One of the best writers of intelligence and political novels in the world." (Of course, I would include my Rogue Writer colleagues in that category as well). Some 30 years ago  McCarry penned a terrific thriller, Better Angels,  about militants using passenger airliners as tools of terror.  At the time, who would have believed such a premise? He was prescient indeed.


Now let's look at what the headlines might be in 2018 and perhaps you can help me fashion a new thriller involving a prediction.  Checking the calendar we see the following events --let's imagine what might occur in and around them:

February -- South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics midst controversy over whether North Korea will be sending athletes to compete in the games, along with their coaches and handlers. Could one of them end up as a defector, joining some 30,000 others who have escaped from that brutal dictatorship to live free in South Korea or emigrate to other countries offering a better life?


March -- Speaking of dictators, the one holding the country of Venezuela in an iron grip will supposedly stand for re-election  again. That is, if it could be called an election and not another ballot stuffing exercise. I used Venezuela as a setting in my third thriller, Final Finesse, when the previous dictator ran the place.  I've had to edit and revise that story (since it will be reissued this summer)
 to bring it up to date and reflect the dire condition of a nation that was blessed with the world's richest oil deposits, but cursed with the mismanagement and corruption that has left that once beautiful country with the highest inflation rate and dire shortages of food and medicine. Can you come up with a scenario surrounding that "election" that could be turned into the next thriller?

Also in March -- looks like the season of dictators because Russia will hold its Presidential election, and does anyone doubt that Vladimir Putin will win -- again?
There are many thrillers written about this ubiquitous character including Putin's Gambit, by Lou Dobbs  and James O. Born, along with Palace of Treason and Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews --winner of International Thriller Writers "Best First Novel" award and soon to be made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.  That one features a female Russian spy trained in the art of seduction. Now with Putin's continuing reign, who would be a great hero or heroine in a new story?

July -- NATO holds a significant meeting in Brussels. Let's think about how a major conference involving so many world leaders could be the setting of a novel involving NATO's military commanders and a new challenge.  What would it be? An advance on Estonia or Lithuania? Shall we speculate about a particular major or lieutenant racing to ferret out such a plan?

So, my fellow authors and readers, I'm just reviewing an exercise I go through myself when gathering ideas and research for the next book. Now, let's all look ahead to this new year - and while coming up with creative scenarios for novels, let's also think about other new beginnings -- as my Rogue colleagues K.J. Howe and Gayle Lynds wrote in the previous blogs below -- try something new, inspire someone, step outside your comfort zone and learn a new skill.  Perhaps that skill will be  the ability to plot out a novel, sit down, start writing it - and yes, being prescient! Now thanks for visiting us here at Rogue Women Writers.

Submitted by Karna Small Bodman 


9 comments:

  1. I love the way your brain works, Karna. And your list of actual events coming up are wonderful groundwork and background for thrillers. Just your sketches set my mind abuzz. Great ideas! A number of years ago I wrote a spy novel called Mesmerized that incorporated the brand-new Putin plus Soviet defectors from the old Cold War days, some of whom longed to go back. That was such a fertile period, too. Thanks for a great post!

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  2. My mind is spinning...What a great exercise!!

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  3. My prediction for the future: Russia will do something nefarious. My next WIP is all about that prospect. Great post, Karna. Lots to think about.

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  4. Thanks for the comments - it really great to take a look at the headlines - as many authors do - and then do a "what if"....keep the ideas coming.

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  5. Hi Karna! Your predictions are interesting. I, too, am interested in seeing how the Olympics play out. Hoping for a peaceful week of sport, but won't be surprised if there are defections. Interesting post!

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  7. Love the predictions. Particularly the Olympics. Did anyone check that ski jumping site. I'd swear it's right on the boarder. Bet those NK jumpers are REALLY gonna go for it...........

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  8. Love the predictions. Particularly the Olympics. Did anyone check that ski jumping site. I'd swear it's right on the boarder. Bet those NK jumpers are REALLY gonna go for it...........

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  9. I had no idea Jennifer Lawrence was starring in RED SPARROW! I’m so excited—I loved the book. Thanks for the heads-up!

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