Ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame’s first novel is written from experience

ENTB_ValeriePlame_1017

Former CIA officer Valerie Plame’s first venture into fiction, “Blowback” (co-written with Sarah Lovett), features an undercover CIA agent named Vanessa Pierson (whose initials not-so-coincidentally match Plame’s) pursuing an international weapons dealer across the world. Plame will appear on a panel at the Boston Book Festival at the Back Bay Events Center tomorrow, with a few other likeminded individuals, including director Wes Craven, to discuss writing about terror and terrorism. We caught up with Plame pre-fest for a sneak peek. (Visit bostonbookfest.org for more info on the panel and the festival.)

The CIA redacted parts of your memoir, “Fair Game.” Was switching to fiction easier, in terms of freedom to write?

Well, I still had to submit it for pre-publication review to the CIA. Happily, they understood that it’s fiction. I tried to make it as realistic as possible, but I’m not revealing any classified information.

Did they end up asking you to cut anything?

No they did not, because I obviously know what sources and methods would be compromised. Unlike “Fair Game”, this is not in the heat of political nonsense.

Did you find anything difficult about trying to conform to the rules of fiction?

Maybe because I haven’t done it before, I didn’t have any preconceived notions about how hard it would be. It was a joy to be able draw upon characters that I’ve met along the way and focus on this character, a female character, who so far doesn’t exist, who’s smart, and strong, and not just fixated on guns and sexuality.

You’re coming to the topic of fiction about the intelligence community from being within it. Are you often surprised by what authors and journalists on the outside know about it?

Sometimes. I do a lot of eye rolling, to tell you the truth, because they get a lot of things wrong. But I think that’s probably true of lawyers watching lawyer shows on TV, or doctors watching “ER” probably feel the same way. When you’re inside a universe, you know excruciating details that they’ve gotten wrong.

Are you tempted to correct them?

Well, that’s what I’m trying to do with “Blowback”!

It’s a corrective to some misconceptions people might have about what it’s like?

Yeah, in terms of how you really communicate clandestinely with an asset, and how you move in and out of countries, and the relationships, and that it’s much more of a team effort than typically comes across in what’s out there.

Do you find that your instincts from your past career are still active?

Definitely. I think the power of observation versus simply seeing doesn’t leave you.

Do you find yourself gauging people in a room to determine who’s dangerous?

I wouldn’t say consciously. I’m the mother of 13-year-old twins, so I’m trying to put all my super secret assessment skills to work in the teen world.

They know better than to try and sneak anything by you, right?

They try anyway. They’re completely unimpressed by their parents, as most teenagers are.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Grimm choice: Tax fraud trial could dog NY…

Rep. Michael Grimm may be splitting his time between the campaign trail and a courtroom where he is due to face tax evasion charges.

Local

Met Opera, unions extend talks for 72 hours,…

Met Opera agreed to extend negotiations with its labor unions for 72 hours, preventing a threatened lockout, the organization said late Thursday.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures August 2…

Summer Streets, the NYC Triathlon, the Ecuadorian Parade and festivals will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on 'Calvary' and his very…

Brendan Gleeson discusses how "Calvary" began over drinks and how his priest character is the opposite of the officer he played in "The Guard."

Movies

Interview: Chris O'Dowd does funny and serious in…

Chris O'Dowd talks about "Calvary," an Irish comedy-drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) under fire.

Movies

'Alive Inside' and 'Code Black' are documentaries with…

Two new documentaries — "Alive Inside" and "Code Black" — portray different issues but suffer from the same problem.

Music

Caught a Ghost catches a soul/rap vibe

Jesse Nolan says Caught a Ghost's sound aims for two things everybody likes: soul music and '90s rap.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…