Special Access

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

Month: September 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Titles Chosen for a Reason

My first book title, Special Access, was chosen to reflect the very special nature of the black programs the CIA manages. One must have Special Access in order to play in the counterterrorism games. My friends from the intelligence community were astounded when “their old place” allowed the title to stand as well as the subject material. It was a minor gamble the Agency wouldn’t allow the title (anyone can google CIA black programs to get the actual designation of black programs) or the subject (there is a CIA file that proves the President is not who he claims to be). But the publication review board approved them and life went on.

In Shoot Down, the PRB gets special mention. They are a good group of men and women who try to ensure crazy bastard authors like me don’t put something very sensitive “out there” for all to see. I may have mentioned I have to have my manuscripts approved before I can send them to my agent or an editor. It is a process I’m glad is out there. In an effort to write something that comes off as real-world, I do not want to let my imagination get away from me and spill some national secret I am not aware of (I can guarantee you, I don’t know of any). I don’t even get “pointers” from my former Agency friends. Re: Shoot Down, it would have to be a national secret for the president to allow the US to “negotiate with terrorists.” It used to be a well known standard, “America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.” Our current President has no such qualms cozying up to terrorists. Such an action, in the real world, before our current President could be catastrophic politically, and would likely “shoot down” any additional or future presidential aspirations if the American people knew the treachery of their President.

No Need to Know is taken from the intelligence community’s “Need to Know” principle. If you don’t have a “need to know” certain information to execute one’s duties, you don’t get to know. There’s so many things that go on in the counterterrorism and counterespionage world that us mere mortals have no need to know, but Duncan Hunter, our hero not only has the clearances and the accesses, he has a “Need to Know” in order to do his contract work. And at the end, what Hunter does, the President makes the determination that no one anywhere has a “Need to Know.”

More to follow.

Duncan Hunter’s World

I’ve been spending a lot of time on book four. There may be something like it “out there” in the literary world but I kind of doubt it. So we’ll see once it is published. That is because the conditions for the plot, for what I have I mind, could only happen based on Duncan Hunter’s world. I.e., the former President resigned when his CIA file was released and half of the electorate is livid that they were hoodwinked in believing the man would change or “transform” America into some utopia–I think the operative word is “transform” as if half of the country doesn’t know that word is code for killing the capitalist system and replacing it with a communist or socialist one. In Duncan Hunter’s world the new president is trying to repair all the damage his predecessor inflicted on the county, to include identifying and eliminating all the commies his predecessor placed in key government positions. The new guy also goes after the worst of the terrorists, or at least he sends Hunter after them overseas. Hunter hasn’t been tasked to target progressives, liberals, or communists in America. At least not yet.

The craziness that is our political system is in the background of Duncan Hunter’s world, which is a world of “things that are not what they seem to be.” Beginning with a president that is exposed to be a fraud and is allowed to leave the country before he could be impeached, to the dark side of the CIA where the “truth” exists in secret files and black programs. In order for Duncan Hunter’s world to work, there has to be a fully supportive Director of Central Intelligence to facilitate his and his quiet airplane’s capabilities, and there has to be a republican president to provide the authorization to kill terrorists. In Duncan Hunter’s world the democrat party is no longer the party of JFK–which was anti-communist, anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-military. The new democrat party is the antithesis of what it was in the 1960s, as it has been taken over by communists and liberals, and is communist, pro-terrorist, anti-gun, and anti-military. And don’t get Duncan Hunter started on the left’s environmental stuff!

More to follow.

News & More

My publisher informed me a book review service was interested in reviewing No Need to Know. So I put a copy in the mail; we’ll see how that goes.

Book signing: Wednesday, 30 September, International Spy Museum, Washington DC. Noon to 5pm.

Still receiving very favorable book reviews at Amazon for all three books. I look at these as an important performance metric, authors get filtered feedback from family and friends and received unfiltered feedback from the public, from those that thought enough of the story to submit some of their thoughts. Some comments are good, some are bad and seem to be “politically driven,” while others are just short and sweet and get to the point–they’d like to see the movie.

So if I were to do a screenplay it would have to be for Shoot Down. I’ve thought about it. Like a manuscript, a screenplay is another beast, probably left for professionals. I may give it a go one of these days. Nothing to lose. The challenge of sifting 600 pages of a book into 127 pages of a screenplay is a daunting task. There’s some trade secrets, obviously. Emotions run high when both Nazy and Duncan are in different parts of Algeria and are in dire trouble. Those scenes are what (probably) would make or break a screenplay. Maybe after book four is off to be reviewed by publication services.

More to follow.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Part 2

Like airplanes, a number of amazing trucks and cars race through the pages of my novels. Corvettes, Mercedes, Porsches, Jaguars, Rolls Royces, Aston Martins. Other vehicles get mentioned, but not in a loving and kind way. No self-respecting conservative would be caught dead in a liberal limousine–a Prius (complete with a Coexist bumper sticker, among others), the (Not so) Smart Car (Don’t they have a problem “tipping over?”), and of course Chevy Volts and Teslas. The ultimate luxury golf carts. The ultimate expression of freedom is jumping in a car and race the crap out of it. Why would you own a car which requires an extension cord? In the development of the Duncan Hunter character, he is not supposed to come across as a liberal, he’s a conservative and he drives (and flies) the most beautiful and powerful vehicles he can find.

A good friend of mine, a liberal socially and the owner of a nice big Mercedes, once said of Hummers, “No one needs one of those gas guzzling things.” In my books, Duncan Hunter wouldn’t leave home without one. He has a business where he buys Hummers from all across the country, put them in a shop, strips out the engine and makes the damn thing indestructible. Hunter’s Hummers are “up armored” and save lives. And since no diehard environmentalist would ever be caught dead in a Hummer, I suppose when the zombies and the illegal aliens and their buddies in MS-13 overrun the borders, I suppose only Hunter will be driving through the brain damaged and invading hordes. And since radical Islamists have a fatwa on Duncan Hunter, he really cannot go anywhere without the protection of a Hummer. Who knew, there might be a couple of reasons for someone to own one of those things?

More to follow.

I Love Your Books

I suppose authors love to hear from everyday people who have found and love their book(s). It’s one thing where family and friends are polite and say the magic words, but an author just doesn’t know if their books are truly great, merely ok, or if they suck. I’ve tried to remain positive, knowing that some family and friends are going to be positive and complementary no matter what. Then there is the unexpected “blue bird.”

One of those happened to me today. I was at the pharmacy picking up a prescription when the pharmacist blurts out, “I love your books.”

I was suspicious at first. There’s other Mark Hewitts who are authors. Then when she rolled off the first two titles, and said, “Your Shoot Down is better than Clancy, and he’s not around anymore. I mean, that’s the only real comparison. There are so many crappy books out there and I don’t have time for crappy books. You don’t write crappy books. I love your books.”

So I was stunned and shocked. Her words made my day. Makes me want to get behind the keyboard and punch out another chapter on my new book.

Quiet Aero Systems

One of Duncan Hunter’s business is called Quiet Aero Systems. It is a small research arm of a line of businesses. QAS is a former front company for the CIA that did “quieting research,” such as building noise cancelling systems as well as how to quiet a propeller or a helicopter rotor or even a truck motor. The principles are the same. Another business is called HAVCO, for Hunter Aeronautical Company. In Shoot Down, he acquires the plans and jigs to make quiet airplanes, which are essentially powered gliders. But HAVCO also overhauls old airplanes, such as warbirds and the aircraft Duncan Hunter stumbles upon in his many travels.

Quieting technologies also include quieting the radio spectrum environment, such as developing materials that mask images, such as light bending camouflage as well as special paints that absorb light. These “capabilities” are not my inventions but are projects found in the pages of research journals and sometimes make their way to the internet. There are different camouflage strategies to hide a tank in plain sight or a man, a little harder for an airplane. Some of my readers have asked if these are real or my imagination; they are surprised when I say, “You can find these on the internet. They are very real even if they are in the prototype stage.”

In the Hunter books, the CIA front company QAS was acquired from the CIA. The scientists continue to develop interesting capabilities–such as a swarm of “quadrotors” and light bending materials as well as wearable noise cancellation systems for special operations soldiers. Look for more interesting things to come from the bowels of QAS and HAVCO.

More to follow.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

A number of aircraft fly through the pages of my novels. Piper Super Cubs, Lockheed YO-3As, Gulfstream business jets, K-Max helicopter, Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, unmanned “quadrotors,” a Beechcraft Staggerwing, Boeing C-17, 747s, and 777. DC-3s and U-2s get mentioned, and of course the McDonnel Douglas Phantom II. And on the cover of No Need to Know, the amazing Lockheed Martin C-130. The Hercules is the primary cargo aircraft that hauls the YO-3A from mission to mission.

I’ve been accused of writing books for aviators. I don’t think that’s entirely true. I would say my hero, Duncan Hunter, is a pilot and the business of finding and killing terrorists from an airplane requires a major coordinated effort. The point is in my books, with the YO-3A and Hunter and his little terrorist-killing tools, highlight a unique capability that really doesn’t exist in the military’s or the intelligence community’s lineup of aircraft. I suppose in real life the President would just launch a bunch of missiles at a target and kill everyone in sight. McGee and Hunter and Lynche are not fans of killing women and children with missiles like our President does.

One of the underlying themes is Duncan Hunter puts himself at significant risk to find individual targets and eliminate them, one at a time. I don’t think everyone grasps what technological marvels the 11 YO-3As were.

More to follow.

Real Events, Part Three

Some of the events in my book just feel like a stick stuck in my craw. One of those was when I was with the U.S. Border Patrol. I think I made my feelings plain how the democratic administration at the time just totally screwed over the guys in the USBP, from the newest new guy to the senior leaders. Americans don’t want their leaders to be corrupt. It is a crying shame those are in charge, at the highest levels, are just that.

The vast majority of Americans just cannot see the corruption nor would they ever believe it–they wait for the “official word” before they will believe anything that goes against their world view. And since the party in power also controls the media, Americans will wait forever before anyone in the media “leaks” sufficient truth to make a dent in the problem. Remember, it’s never news until the media says it news.

So when I went to Monrovia, Liberia to conduct an airport assessment imagine my surprise that the level of corruption was not only at the at the highest levels of government but at the lowest levels, and more importantly, corruption was just a fact of life. When my group entered the Customs holding area, we found three tables in a line, a few feet apart. The two outboard tables had signs in front of them: NO BRIBES TAKEN AT THIS DESK. Of course, no one was sitting at those desks. The center table didn’t have a sign but did have a Customs official. And let’s just say, “It only got ‘better’ from there.” Yes, that is sarcasm.

Little things like that, based on real events, helps in my writing.

More to follow.

Real Events, Part Two

I acknowledge I draw some inspiration for my books from my experiences. One of my most favorite stories “real life” that hasn’t made it into my books (yet) features the remarkable U-2 spyplane and the death of a U-2 pilot during the cold war. I’ve shared this event with friends and family. My little story begins with a long retired Air Force colonel who asked me if I could talk with the base commander to see if he would be able to get a “U-2 flyover” for a reunion of other U-2 pilots, maintenance, and logistics people. The reunion featured the son of the most famous U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers Jr, as the keynote speaker. I encouraged the old Air Force colonel he needed to talk with the base or “wing” commander–he needed to do some of that “colonel-to-colonel” stuff–I had no standing as a former Marine and one of the top civilian maintenance guys on the base. I had no magic solution and knew any request of mine was not going to fly. I talked with the Operations Group Commander who told me what I already knew–what the old colonel wanted was absolutely impossible. “U-2’s are national assets. It would take an act of God to reprogram one of those airplanes. Not ever going to happen,” I recall him saying while wagging his finger at me. u-2-plane

Later that evening, during one of my graduate school classes, I began with the story of Major Rudolph Anderson, the second most famous U-2 pilot who took off from Laughlin AFB and was shot down over Cuba. I told a short story when I was on active duty, that I had a colonel that had our Marines always on the go, painting airplanes or buildings and then having them “dedicated” and named after a hero and such. I said it was most interesting to me that the huge building we were in at the time, with an auditorium, dozens of offices and classrooms and such wasn’t named after anyone; that I thought it would be the perfect candidate to be named after the U-2 pilot who lost his life in the service of our country, Major Rudolph Anderson. And any dedication could coincide with other activities, such as the old strategic reconnaissance wing that was having a reunion in a few months. I asked if one of my students would be interested in talking to their squadron commander to see if that idea would be received favorably. It didn’t have to be my idea, and I rather it wouldn’t be articulated as such. “If you know what I mean.” One of my lieutenants raised his hand and said he’d do it.

It wasn’t ten o’clock the following morning when I got a call to see the Ops Group Commander. When I entered his office, he began to berate me, how I screwed him over. I confessed I didn’t know what he was talking about. That’s when he informed me, “Bullshit! You got one of your grad students to talk to his squadron commander, about some great idea to dedicate the Ops building after Major Rudolph Anderson. He thought it was a great idea, and since he was flying with the wing commander, he told him, who also thought it was a great idea. After they landed, the Wing Commander called his boss, who also thought it was a fantastic idea; he called his boss who also thought it was an unbelievably awesome idea and he talked to the four star general, who also thought it was the best idea anyone had in a good long while. Then the four star said, ‘I’ll see about getting a U-2 flyover for the dedication.'” AIR_U-2_lg

And that’s how the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing got the Operations building dedicated to Major Rudolph Anderson and the nice old colonel got his U-2 flyover for his reunion. One of my students got the credit for being the genius behind the idea and became the project officer. The late Major Anderson finally received the accolades he long past deserved and his family was astounded someone finally remembered their airman hero was the only U.S. casualty during that critical time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone on the base that day got to see the magnificent U-2 up close as it flew directly overhead. Proud buttons popped all over the place. Can’t make that stuff up. Life is better than fiction.

More to follow.

Real Events

Family, friends, acquaintances and some book reviewers have indicated I must draw inspiration for my books from real events. Guilty. Mostly from things I experienced. Some events in my books are obviously “not mine” and are the product of my imagination. A friend laughed at the notion Duncan Hunter would even consider a “dirty penetration” in a Gulfstream jet. The idea for that event came from a devilish simulator instructor from my early days in flight school. He would give student an approach into Corpus Christi that was impossible to perform in a jet; but for a twin-engine prop airplane, it was nothing. I spent hours experimenting in the simulator trying to figure out how to fly that approach, knowing I’d be given that approach for an instrument check ride. You can imagine Lucifer’s surprise when he cleared me for his special little approach and the first thing I did was throw out my landing gear and flaps to drop out of the sky like a rock. He said I was the only guy to figure it out or I could have asked for another approach for a jet. Live and learn, file away the event, and you never know when you need something incredible to rescue a hero.

More to follow.

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