Monday, August 3, 2015

Counting Down the Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Spy Fiction—Guest post by T.A. Maclagan

10. Setting

In spy fiction, cool international locales are the name of the game and each city has its own unique vibe, from the neon lights and pulsing throngs of people in Tokyo, to the oppressive drear of Moscow in winter, to the blossoming of spring in D.C. each May. After reading a spy novel I always feel like I’ve been traveling the world.

9. The Bad Guys
They’re so fun and spy fiction has some of the best bad guys around.

8. The Disguises
I love it when actors can successfully play multiple characters in a movie or show, like Val Kilmer in The Saint and more recently Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black. It’s equally as cool when the characters on a page morph into someone new as they go undercover.

7. Twists & Turns
When I read a book, I don’t like to know what’s going to happen when I turn the page and spy fiction is great in that regard.

6. The Action

There’s never a dull moment in a good spy book.

5. The Tech
Gadgets galore!

4. The Secrets
Characters with secrets make for a good story. Make those characters spies where revealing their secrets could cost them their lives, and the tension bumps up a notch.

3. The Spycraft
The ‘how to’ of spying is inherently interesting. What are the techniques used to develop an asset? How do you avoid a tail? Use a dead drop? The list goes on!

2. The Dynamic Relationships

Life or death stakes, characters with secrets, the fates of nations in the balance…all make for some really interesting interpersonal dynamics. Who can you trust, when everyone has secrets and might be lying to you?


Everything on this list from the dynamic relationships, to the tech, to the settings, all merge to create what I like to think of as the spy vibe. It’s a vibe distinct to spy novels. It’s a pulsing tension…a web of intrigue…a pull that keeps you reading…keeps you guessing.

When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?

Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.

But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.

Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?

T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.

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