by | Aug 8, 2018 | Gayle Lynds | 6 comments

by Gayle Lynds:  Would you mind spending a few months living in a mud hut — or perhaps the nightly ritual of putting on formal clothes to attend an embassy party with great booze and music in a foreign capitol?

How’s your physical conditioning, your eyesight, your temperament?  Maybe you’re the kind of person who always has to use the same brand of toothpaste, or you insist on making your own from coconut oil and baking soda. 

Since America’s 17 agencies of the intelligence community are much in the news these days, more people than ever are curious about the rigorous process of being accepted for training and those who graduate to become true professionals – resilient, resourceful, intelligent, and able to put up with physical discomfort and boredom, as well as times of high stress and danger.

Just for fun, here’s a reprise of ten questions that’ll give you a clue about how much you already know about the clandestine world in which spies thrive.  The answers are at the very end, so enjoy yourself . . . but don’t peek ahead.  Good spy, good spy.

1. Who or what is a Juliet spy?
    a. A female operator who uses acting as a cover story.
    b. A woman who has been tricked into working as a spy.
    c. A female intelligence officer who seduces for her country.
    d. A male intelligence officer who disguises himself as a woman.

2. In the United States, what is MI-6’s equivalent agency?
    a. The NSA
    b. The CIA
    c. Army intelligence
    d. The FBI

3. What is blowback?
    a. An important event that happens behind an operative’s back, out of sight.
    b. A lie that’s planted abroad but is accepted as truth when it blows back home.
    c. Drugs given to someone who is being questioned.
    d. A term from World War I that originally described a strong wind that blew carrier pigeons off course.  

4. Who receives the U.S. President’s Daily Brief?
    a. The laundry, for washing.
    b. The press, so they can be kept up to date about the president’s schedule that day.
    c. The White House staff, so they have their day’s assignments.
    d. The president, vice president, and a hand-picked group of cabinet-level officials chosen by the president.

5. What is a covert action?
    a. A mission designed to be so secret that it can’t be traced back to its sponsoring agency or country.
    b. Anything underhanded or illegal that an intelligence officer does.
    c. A hidden espionage agenda.
    d. A clandestine romantic assignation between two spies.

6. What is the most popular dead drop location?
    a. Train station locker
    b. Under a bridge
    c. A public bathroom
    d. The underside of a mailbox

7. What is a penetration agent?
    a. Special chemical used to make invisible ink readable
    b. Undercover operative sent secretly into a group to collect information
    c. Spy who is particularly skilled at the technology of espionage
    d. Accountant employed by an intelligence service to trace funds

8. Which vehicle is seldom used in surveillance?
    a. Motorcycle
    b. Bicycle
    c. Sports car
    d. SUV

9. Who was Wild Bill Donovan?
    a. Director of the OSS, which was the forerunner of the CIA
    b. Inventor of a special radio transmitter distributed to European resistance groups in World War Two
    c. Famous spymaster seen in a popular series of 1930s movies
    d. CIA mole executed by the Soviets in 1981

10. If you use a legend to gain intel, what have you done?
    a. Mined mythology for interesting anecdotes to distract those you need to deceive
    b. Analyzed a historical event to understand a current problem
    c. Exploited a celebrated person to help you accomplish your mission
    d. Created or been given a false identity to go undercover


 1: c 
 2: b  
 3: b   
 4: d   
 5: a   
 6: c   
 7: b   
 8: c   
 9: a   
                                                         10: d

     10 correct = you’re ready to serve!
       9 correct = you’re recruitable
       6 correct = you’re a potential candidate
       4 correct = you’re a nice person
       2 correct = you’ve been living in a remote Peruvian jungle
       0 correct = please get your pulse checked.

Would you like to be a spy, or do you know someone who would?  Please tell us!

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Robin Burcell

    Darn, looks like I'm going to have to go to spy school. I'm right between potential and recruitable! What fun! Thanks for posting, Gayle!

  2. Gayle Lynds

    You are totally recruitable, Robin, but that might distract you from writing your great thrillers. Stay at that desk, stay at that desk and writ! 🙂

  3. Karna Bodman

    Guess I'm not recruitable –only a potential candidate. I have to admit I got that first question wrong about a "Juliet" being someone who seduces others….I was thinking about Jay Matthews' thriller, RED SPARROW about a Russian agent who does just that. Perhaps the Russians call them Sparrows and we call them Juliets. Anyway – terrific post – I learned a lot. Then again, of course, YOU are the "spy master."

  4. LadyTechie

    I used to have a running joke with a previous coworker when I wouldn't answer a question or do something it was because I was part of the Israeli Mossad and they were watching.

  5. Norma Huss

    I've been reading too many spy novels. I got ten for ten. Wow!

  6. Caryn

    Wow! I’m also only a potential candidate. Fun! I’m afraid, I’d be a picky spy. I hated working details where I had to blend in, by not washing my hair or clothes. Can I be a clean spy, please?