by Gayle Lynds
|File boxes on Gayle’s shelves contain research & a few secrets|
Most people can’t bear to keep a secret long enough to die with it untold. On the other hand, professionals in our intelligence agencies are not “most people.” They’re committed and do keep the secrets. Imagine their relief when they can get together and talk about what is known only to them.
I got to thinking about all of this because I recently had the wonderful experience of being interviewed by journalist extraordinaire Susan Spencer on CBS Sunday Morning for a segment called “What’s REALLY behind conspiracy theories?”
This is how the segment started….
Spy novelist Gayle Lynds has made an entire career out of dreaming up conspiracies, hundreds of them. Her office, at home near Portland, Maine, is a breeding ground for conspiracies, filled to bursting with evil secrets and nefarious plots involving military technology, special ops, and war tactics.
“The C.I.A. is overflowing, as you can see,” Lynds said of her bookshelves.
Her espionage novels have sold millions of copies, and they all start with one unbreakable rule: the conspiracy has to be believable. That’s not hard, given that genuine conspiracies have existed, from Watergate to Iran/Contra.
“They’re wonderful to write about,” Lynds said.
Susan accused me of being a spy. Of course I denied it. Secrets, anyone?
So confession time … here are three of my favorite secrets from my personal past that only a few others ever knew….
1. I learned to drive (illegally) when I was 12 years old on an elderly Chevy with running boards, a stick shift, and a manual choke. My cousin, Linda, was only 14 and taught me. Taking turns, we used the Chevy to herd my Uncle Red’s dairy cows along the country roads of eastern Colorado where they could graze on the free grasses on either side. It was a warm, idyllic summer in which my cousin and I devoured paperback books lying on the old car’s seats. She and I still devour books but now we drive automatics.
Writerly lesson: The important things of life don’t change all that much — books, summers, and the right companion.
2. I was the most notorious employee at the think tank where I worked after college because I often forgot my security badge. The guards at the security kiosk eventually gave up trying to improve my ADHD and instead made a hand-written badge for me that they kept behind the desk. I expected it to say “idiot.” But no, it just said “She forgot her badge again.”
Writerly lesson: Security has gotten draconian since then, but the guards personally are often sweethearts.
3. In Santa Barbara where I lived for many years, I usually left my front door open. One day I was passing it on my way to the kitchen when a teenage skunk strolled in. How do you say “get out!” to a skunk? I backed up. The skunk sauntered past me and into the kitchen and went straight to the cat’s water dish. It drank a good draught then cleaned out the dish of kitty kibbles, swished its tail, and walked back out of the house. Obviously it had visited before. I closed the door. And locked it.
Writerly lesson: Close the barn door so the horse can’t leave, but close the front door so the skunk can’t get inside.
Dear Rogue Readers … We’d love to hear what you learned from one of your secrets. Please tell!