I've realized that the focus of my writing has narrowed over the years. My first three novels written in 1990-93, but never published, have a decided international flavor. The first ranges from the U.S. to Austria, Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Israel, winding up in Toronto. Book two takes us from the U.S. to Korea and China, while the third wanders among Ukraine, Iran, Belarus, Mexico and the U.S.
This trilogy of post-Cold War spy stories grew out of my love of the espionage genre, which I had followed for years with authors like Helen Macinnes, John le Carre, Graham Greene, and Robert Ludlum. The international scene was fresh in my mind from travels across Europe and around the Far East in the eighties.
While revising the books with an eye toward publication, I was reminded of how much additional research I had done in preparation for writing them. I make folders for each of my books and place all of the research material in them. Besides notes they include call slips for various books I checked out of the library. I also have a supply of maps and travel books covering the areas. The shelves in my office include books on the CIA, the KGB, and such famous spies as Harold Adrian "Kim" Philby.
By the end of the nineties, my settings had narrowed down to mostly U.S. locations. After a trip to the Holy Land in late 1998, however, I set my first Greg McKenzie mystery half in the U.S. and half in Israel. My second McKenzie book wandered off to Perdido Key, Florida where we vacationed often in my brother's condo, but since them the mysteries have all taken place around my hometown of Nashville.
I suppose this is part of the aging process, since my wife and I have cut back on our personal wanderings over the years. There's probably a bit of laziness involved, also, as it's much easier to write about an area you are intimately familiar with. I enjoy venturing out to re-check locations I haven't visited in a while, and I'll occasionally include a place I've never been before.
I still enjoy the high-octane machinations of the spy story, though I haven't read a good one lately. Who knows, I might just stumble into a dead drop or pick up a one-time pad and get motivated to turn out another espionage tome. Meanwhile, look for the Burke Hill trilogy in the near future.
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