I write international thrillers — each one focuses on a different threat to our national security (at least as I see them). In my new thriller, CASTLE BRAVO which is out this week, a hostile group figures out how to create an “EMP” — an Electro-Magnetic Pulse — that, when detonated high in the atmosphere will “fry” all electronics on the ground. We’d have no electricity grid, no internet, no communications … transportation … refrigeration … sanitation … aviation. It would set us back to the year 1910 (And yes, such an attack IS possible with the right equipment and know-how). Heroine, Samantha Reid, is the Director of the White House Office of Homeland security and fears it could happen here. When a test overseas goes awry, setting up just such an EMP — she and others race to stop a similar attack on the homeland. Oh, and the love of her life is trapped overseas in the middle of it all.
What inspired you to write this story?
It was a conversation I had with the Major General in charge of our entire Missile Defense system. He said that one reason we truly need to improve and expand our missile defenses is because of an EMP threat. When I researched the issue, I knew I had to write a story about it.
What research did you do?
Tons! I interviewed Ambassadors, government officials and technical experts. I mined the internet, of course, and read several books. I discovered that our scientists first learned how this EMP effect works when we did atmospheric testing of nuclea weapons after WWII out in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. And I found diaries of island people who were affected by some of the tests.
Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely! We need to be aware of this new type of threat (which was mentioned during the Presidential debates some months ago — but hasn’t received much coverage since then). It actually is a great argument for beefing up our missile defense systems. Sure, we have interceptors out at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara as well as up at Ft. Greeley, Alaska, but we need another system covering the East Coast at a minimum. To be sure, we are cooperating with other countries like Australia, Japan, Denmark (which operates the connecting radar in Greenland), Germany and Israel — but we need to deploy more systems as a defense against whatever insane thing Iran, North Korea or their proxies might do. So, yes, I’m trying to call attention to the subject — but not in a dry, “preachy” way. No, I wanted to create a good thriller so readers would enjoy a good story while also getting the message. After all, it was George Bernard Shaw who said, “The best way to get your point across is to entertain!
How has your background influenced your writing?
I served six years in The White House — last post was Senior Director of the National Security Council.
What are you working on right now?
Two stories at once. One is the sequel to CASTLE BRAVO — same characters, different threat. And another is a “one-off” type of romantic suspense titled AFFAIRS OF STATE.
What do you like to read?
I love to read political thrillers — anything to do with The White House! I like Nelson DeMille’s books as well as novels by Charles McCarry (the quintisential fomer CIA agent), and Vince Flynn. But I also relax with romantic suspense and the occasional romance at the end of the day.
How have you marketed your work?
I’ve done a lot of radio interviews — and after landing on a couple of syndicated shows, my books hit “#1 in Thrillers” on Amazon. Also, I have organized my own book tours where I’ve now had over 275 speeches/events to all kinds of groups/conventions/clubs around the country. It’s hard work to set these up and there are travel costs involved (which most publishers won’t pick up). But it’s been my way of growing a reader base and meeting great people who, hopefully, will buy the next book. At each event, I have a little sign-up sheet where people leave their address so I can drop them a post card or email about my next endeavor. I’ve sent out thousands with each new release — yes, it’s really labor intensive, but when someone receives a “personalized” card — I’m told they don’t throw it away, they often take it into a book store and say, “Can you get this book for me?”
Where can people learn about your books?
First, please visit my website: http://www.karnabodman.com where there are links to buy all of my books. This new one, CASTLE BRAVO is out in hardback, trade paperback, audio and as an e-book….I want my readers to have lots of choices. And if you do check my website, on the Contact/Events page a list of upcoming events as well as my email: I’d love to hear from you and I make it a point to answer every email (it may take a while, but I do promise to answer!). Now, thanks for reading!…..Karna Small Bodman