I remember seeing the James Bond movie Moonraker back in the Jurassic Era when Roger Moore played the part. We were at the drive in movie theater, swatting mosquitoes the size of 747s and trying to eek out more volume from the tinny speaker dangling in our window.
I was a kid but old enough to know a plot that involved hijacking the space shuttle was kind of ridiculous. And I didn’t understand the Bond Girls. If they wanted to be truly badass, why on earth would they dress like they did? Who wants to fight bad guys in heels and a clingy sequined mini-dress? But one thing is clear. Bond isn’t going anywhere.
Evidence? Recently I had a chance to visit the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Seriously, this was research, folks. I’m in the middle of a spy series and I need material. Anyway, the museum hosts an extensive James Bond exhibit, with movie props and costumes and details on special effects. There was a super creepy interview with the actor who played Jaws and he was lovely and funny and it freaked me out. The museum was crowded. People couldn’t get enough of our cultures pre-eminent spy.
So why do spies capture our imagination? Why do I keep returning to them every time I sit down to start a new project? Sure, there is the Teflon superhero quality to a character like James Bond but it’s something more than that.
When writing fiction, the ambiguity inherent in the spying life is rich with possibility. It’s the idea that things are not as they appear, that under the obvious are layers of the unknown. That guy walking down the street in front of you – maybe he’s recording the conversation the woman in front of him is having with the guy in the hat who looks suspicious. Maybe they’re plotting world domination? Or maybe he works for the bad guys and she’s the mark. Or flip that. Or maybe she’s the only thing standing between chaos and us. It could be you’re on a mission right now.
Or maybe I am.
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What I’m reading
The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (adult). I can’t decide what I think. Have any of you read this book? Help me.
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys (YA). Set during the final days of WWII, four teenagers with secrets flee the advancing Soviets. Based on the actual events surrounding the Wilhelm Gustloff maritime disaster, this novel does a great job making history come alive.
Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk (MG). Another historical. Am I hiding out in the past because the present is so alarming? Possibly. But the past is alarming too as evidenced by this beautifully written novel about a Pennsylvania girl living in the shadow of a war finished and one about to begin. There is much to be learned here about compassion and resilience while illuminating some of the darkest corners of our history.
AND I can’t let you go without talking about Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. Has anyone watched this show? I AM FREAKING OUT. So gross. So funny. Please watch it and get back to me.