Special Access

The ramblings and ruminations of suspense-thriller novelist, Mark A. Hewitt

Month: July 2015

What’s “No Need to Know” about?

Around the third of September, my wonderful publisher, Black Rose Writing, will release my third book: No Need to Know. Readers of Special Access and Shoot Down will find the same characters in play with the YO-3A quiet airplane flying between scenes, in Africa and Afghanistan and Jordan. Fear not, the political background is still set around a new President that was elevated to the office after the former President resigned in lieu of being charged with being a fraud and a possible al-Qaeda agent.

My novels try to provide a true-to-life peek behind the curtain of top secret programs, forgotten CIA files, spyplanes, and the unspeakable world of Special Access Programs. The pilot, Duncan Hunter, engages the world’s worst, lone-wolf terrorists, and neutralizes international asymmetric threats with a mix of obsolete and cutting-edge technologies. The Players have unusual access with some of the highest security clearances granted by the U.S. government.

No Need to Know: A major security breach finds the CIA’s closest secrets divulged and dozens of their highly-placed spies exposed and killed. As the Agency investigates the source of the disclosures, an old Office of Strategic Services file and the former Director of Central Intelligence become the focal point of their research. A race is on to find the file’s secrets. If al-Qaeda’s wins, they can acquire “suitcase” thermonuclear devices to attack America. If the CIA gets there first, they can make a deal with a Russian billionaire and trade the missing treasure for the weapons al-Qaeda craves.

The political awakening of Duncan Hunter continues as he battles radical fundamentalists across the globe, he thwarts the terrorists’ best plans and eliminates their leaders. He survived their latest attempts to kill him when he’s finally cornered, captured, and dragged to an al-Qaeda lair. Inside lurks certain doom at the hand of his bitterest foe.

More to follow.

What’s “Shoot Down” about?

During my recent book signings, I’ve been very surprised when someone checks out the cover of Shoot Down, they want to know if it is fiction or non-fiction. I assure them it is fiction but it is loosely based on an actual event. Remember my books are based on old CIA files that no one has seen for years or a program is only activated once a year. Shoot Down was the original spark for writing a novel. I taught grad school and an aircraft accident course when a TWA 747 exploded over the waters of Long Island, New York. Some witnesses claimed the aircraft was shot down by a surface-to-air missile; the government insisted a mechanical malfunction brought down the airplane. Flight 800 has been the subject of conspiracy theories, books, and television specials. I suggest an old CIA file is uncovered which details the President was warned—to preclude commercial airliners from being shot out of the sky either pay a ransom or suffer the consequences.

Just as the Agency finds the shadowy man responsible for the shoot down of the airliner, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is suddenly overthrown, sparking a race between the CIA and the terrorist networks to win the ultimate terrorist prize—hundreds of man-portable, shoulder-launched, anti-aircraft missiles.

Duncan Hunter and his top secret airplane once again teams up with former CIA Chief of Air Branch, Greg Lynche; former SEAL Team Six Commander, Captain Bill McGee; and CIA senior analyst, Nazy Cunningham to find the anti-aircraft missiles ahead of the al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood, and kill the man who shoots down airliners for profit.

Next, No Need to Know.

What’s “Special Access” about?

Primarily at book signings another question I get asked is, “What is your book about?” Special Access is ripped from the pages of recent newspapers. Basically, a CIA file proves the President is not who he claims to be and U.S. Navy SEALs are being killed across the country.

I offer people to read the synopsis: Basking in the glory of killing Osama bin Laden, the President revealed that Navy SEALs carried out the mission. His constant heralding of their heroism and capabilities damaged the SEAL’s operational security, revealed tricks of their trade, and endangered them and their families. As some in the Special Operations community expected and feared, a number of SEALs are being systematically killed across the country.

The Navy’s legendary SEAL commander, Captain Bill McGee, believes he is the next target of a sniper and seeks help from a close friend with unusual contacts and capabilities. Duncan Hunter, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, flies a top secret airplane with his mentor, Greg Lynche, the sometimes über-liberal retired CIA Chief of Air Branch. Together, in their quiet airplane, they execute some of the CIA’s most sensitive airborne counterterrorism missions under a Special Access Program.

Saving McGee from a sniper’s bullet comes at a price as Duncan Hunter finds himself at the crossroads—either remain a contract pilot and betray a friend or become a patriot and risk exposure as a traitor. His decision pulls him into one intrigue after another, finally revealing the truth behind several conspiracies hidden behind the firewalls of top secret security clearances, CIA files, and Special Access Programs.

Next, something different: Shoot Down.

The Players. Meet Nazy Cunningham

Nazy Cunningham; one-time Yale lawyer, one-time Muslim apologist, one-time Muslim wife, one-time Muslim spy; she broke the bonds of Islam with the help of Duncan Hunter. He turned the women who was sent to spy on him into one of the CIA’s most effective analysts and intelligence officers. She finds terrorists where no one would think to look for them and when they don’t want to be found, and when it is time to interrogate the nastiest of the GITMO detainees, she leaves them a whimpering mess. As Hunter’s love interest, Nazy is tormented by the husband she ran away from, her break with from Islam, and her complicated relationship with Hunter. Her stunning swimsuit-model looks, British accent, and total focus on finding and eliminating Islamic extremists leaves the men with whom she works incoherent, stammering, and captivated fools. Hunter cannot let go of the woman who has proved to be the love of his life, despite her tendencies to get him into significant trouble without her realizing it. Nazy’s job is at CIA headquarters in Washington DC; Duncan lives in Texas. The two of them rarely share the secrets of the Agency for fear of losing their clearances. But they cannot live without each other. Whenever they get the opportunity to reunite, sparks fly.

More to follow.

The Players. Meet Greg Lynche & the YO-3A

Greg Lynche was a career intelligence officer at the CIA. He got the best assignments, rocketed up the corporate ladder, and should have been the Director of Central Intelligence. He didn’t achieve the top spot because he wasn’t political enough; he was more “operational” than political, and the DCI position is usually a “political appointee.” But the job where Lynche succeeded beyond his wildest dreams was as Chief Air Branch. In the 1950s and 60s, this was the office where the ideas for U-2 and A-12/SR-71 spyplanes are born. In the 1990s, when Lynche is retired but “still in the game,” he stumbled onto Duncan Hunter at the U.S. Border Patrol and brings him into the world of the CIA and one of their black programs. Lynche has an idea that goes against everything the CIA has been working on since the shoot down of Francis Gary Powers in 1960. The CIA vowed to never again put a man in an airplane over hostile territory. But the unmanned aircraft technology is not reliable and countless counterterrorism and counternarcotics missions are killed before they ever get off the ground for the lack of a reliable aircraft. As a retired intelligence officer, Lynche has an idea: if he had the right pilot and aircraft, would the CIA “contract” for their services? Lynche acquires a unique “quiet airplane” and finds Duncan Hunter, at the Border Patrol, not living up to his potential. A contract is awarded and for 15 years Hunter and Lynche operate the quiet airplane around the world, performing the CIA’s most sensitive missions. For Hunter, Lynche is his best friend, the brother he never had, and mentor. However, Lynche is Hunter’s political opposite—a liberal to Hunter’s conservative. Duncan Hunter is revered by Lynche, for his high moral standards, exceptional flying skills, and his ability to solve complex problems. Lynche’s pronounced sense of justice often leads him on a collision course with the pragmatic Hunter.

The incredible Lockheed YO-3A, serial number 007, was saved from the scrapheap by Greg Lynche. Built under a top secret US Army program, the motorized glider is aurally stealthy and is able to do things that satellites are incapable of doing and is able to go places where unmanned systems cannot. Hunter is the pilot while Lynche functions as the sensor operator and Hunter’s sounding board. Only those with a need to know are aware of 007’s existence and capabilities. If James Bond had been a pilot, the super-quiet YO-3A—number 007—would’ve been his airplane.

Next, the incomparable Nazy Cunningham.

The Players. Meet Bill McGee, U.S. Navy SEAL

Captain Bill McGee, “Bullfrog,” is the legendary U.S. Navy SEAL, the most decorated commando in Special Operations history, and the son of one of the original WWII Tuskegee Airmen. Bill McGee is a man with many talents, and killing the enemies of America is his specialty. He runs to the sound of trouble. Like most senior SEALS, he is quiet but thoughtful, and carried himself with the unmistakable poise and confidence of a former member of United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the vaunted SEAL Team Six. Tiny round lenses give him the air of being a scholar, with PhDs in weapons, special operations, and assassination methods. His physique, culled from hours in the weight room, is manifest of his athletic prowess. Like James Bond, he is equally comfortable in scuba gear or a parachute harness as he was in formal wear. For failing to find Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, McGee was relieved of command and sent to the Naval War College, to end his storied career first as a student then as an instructor. There he meets Duncan Hunter who involves him the arcane world of quiet airplanes. With his professional life in tatters, McGee credits Hunter for motivating and reinvigorating him, and they become fast friends. True friends always come running when there is trouble.

Next, Greg Lynche & the YO-3A.

The Players. Meet Duncan Hunter

Another question that comes up often during book signings is, “Who are your characters and are they modeled after anyone special?” The main protagonist in my books is named Drew Duncan Hunter but everyone calls him Duncan. A few call him by his call sign: Maverick. He’s a composite character–some of Hunter’s background can be considered autobiographical while his personality and wit is drawn from a radio personality in Washington DC, Chris Plante. Duncan Hunter was a poor smart kid with an uncanny knack for solving complex problems as well as being the luckiest man on the planet. When you meet Nazy Cunningham, you’ll know why. He rose through the ranks of the Marine Corps to become a top fighter pilot when one day he was forced to eject from a crippled jet. The guy in his back seat died. A shattered body and a lengthy rehabilitation removed him from the world of flying supersonic aircraft but the passion to continue to fly allowed him to fly small general aviation aircraft. One day he meets a man who changes his life. He was bought into the fold of the CIA as a contract pilot, supporting some of the Agency’s most sensitive counterterrorism missions. His initial cover was serving with the US Border Patrol and as a university professor. He and Greg Lynche fly into the heart of where terrorists live, operate and flourish. He is driven to fight evil, whether his choice of ends and means be right or wrong. The experience and lessons learned from those who escaped communism and Islam as well as those who embrace liberalism have shaped his politics. He doesn’t suffer liberals (or communists) well, with the exception of Lynche, whom he idolizes.

Next, Bill McGee.

Who’s my favorite author?

I’ve been asked who’s my favorite author. There have been so many over the years. Franklin W. Dixon of Hardy Boys fame. Of course, Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean. The early Stephen King; early Tom Clancy; anything by Dick Francis. Thomas Harris, Robert Harris, and Wilber Smith. Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Jo Nesbo. Preston and Childs and Lee Childs. However, Robert Ferrigno’s books left a mark on me. In his books, major cities in the USA have been hit with suitcase nuclear bombs and the country is divided between Muslims to the north and patriots to the south. His series is one I could sink my teeth into and his books really got me to thinking about what direction I wanted to go, if and when I decided to write my own novel. A virtual world in chaos had significant appeal to me as a backdrop for my characters, storyline, and plot. And I wanted it to be close to real world as possible.

Enter Duncan Hunter and Greg Lynche, CIA contract pilots. They have been flying counterdrug and counterterrorism missions for several years with their quiet aircraft. In the Middle East and South America. When the newly elected democratic President wrenches the country into a hard left turn, the politically conservative Hunter is not amused and the politically liberal Lynche makes excuses for the chief executive. World in chaos. Hunter has unmasked criminals and traitors before, and intuitively knows there is something wrong with the new President. But when he is presented with the evidence that the President is not who he claims to be, he releases the file to the Congress and the press. World in chaos. All of it hidden behind top secret security clearances and special access programs.

The Duncan Hunter books operate in a world where the terrorist organizations al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were able to get one of their own elected to the highest office in the free world. Who else in the government is working for the terrorist organizations? How does a guy with a quiet airplane do something about it? And, can the conservative Hunter and the liberal Lynche remain the closest of friends when the charlatan is unmasked and run out of town?

More to follow.

What kind of airplane is that?

Short answer is “low noise profile” airplane. James Bond had fantastical gadgets. Duncan Hunter uses a “quiet aircraft” to perform some of the CIA’s most difficult counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions. In the Prologue of Special Access, readers are introduced to the remarkable YO-3A flying in the mountains of Colombia, sneaking up on some narco-terrorists and finding the location of a group of long-held hostages. Lockheed Aircraft Company built the world’s best spyplanes for the CIA–most people are aware of the U.S. Air Force’s U-2s and SR-71s. Few knew anything about the 11 YO-3As built for the U.S. Army to conduct low-level night-time surveillance in Vietnam. In my books, a quiet airplane enables Hunter and Lynche to get into places and do those counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism things that just cannot be done from a satellite or a high flying jet.

When hunting the world’s worst terrorists you have to bring out the old stuff. Old guys like Duncan Hunter, Greg Lynche, and Bill McGee. And of course, a jet-black quiet YO-3A.

More to follow.

Welcome to my blog!

At book signings, the most often questions I’m asked are, “Where do you get your ideas?” and “Why did you write a book?”
Some ideas come from my experiences as a kid, my time in the Marine Corps where I was an enlisted electronics technician before I received a commission and my pilot wings after learning to fly jets. Storylines and plots come from my assignments as a pilot, several positions in the corporate world I call “an aviation executive,” and from my observations as a college professor. Some ideas creep into my consciousness when I’m working out. It is amazing to me how my imagination runs wild when I’m out for a long walk. I can easily fill a tiny notebook in a matter of days. However, why I write is more complicated. That’s a story unto itself.

More to follow.

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