Spycraft for Thriller Writers: How to Write Spy Novels, TV Shows and Movies Accurately and Not Be Laughed at by Real-Life Spies

Book review: For aspiring thriller writers, lessons in credibility

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By Lee Scott, Jacksonville Florida Times-Union USA TODAY NETWORK, March 21, 2021

“Spycraft for Thriller Writers”

Author: Edward Mickolus

Wandering Woods Publishers, 112 pages, $9.99 paperback

In this slight volume with the subtitle “How to Write Spy Novels, TV Shows and Movies Accurately and Not Be Laughed at by Real-Life Spies,” Nocatee author, publisher, and retired intelligence agent Edward Mickolus relies on his more than 30-year career to keep thriller writers and wannabes on the straight and narrow.

“Spycraft for Thriller Writers” is not a “primer on how to conduct intelligence collection and covert action operations …. Rather, (it) covers the types of material that (we) frequently see in fictional writing about espionage, and will lead you away from some of the more common glaring errors.”

In gathering this information, he “polled several hundred Intelligence community colleagues, both alumni and serving officers, on what they would recommend to authors regarding how to more accurately portray the intelligence business,” targeting the many commonly held myths about the CIA.

“’Instead of typically canonizing the tall, handsome male case officer, they ought to realize that some of the greatest ops have been run by quiet, retiring bald guys who are non-threatening and, better yet, low profile ….’ Stated more wryly, another colleague observed, ‘They also portray us as much better looking than we really are.’”

Mickolus also includes a chapter on fictional spies and those who portrayed them, as well as a bibliography of works that he feels writers need to read for “a running start on developing credibility.”

“Spycraft” is a sterling effort and a necessary desk-top companion for all aspiring thriller authors.

Lee Scott lives in Avondale.

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