Summer Travel Inspires Thrillers

by | Jul 4, 2016 | Karna Small Bodman | 8 comments


First – a very HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to you! All this week my Rogue Women Writer colleagues  have been discussing summer projects and showing how many of our travel experiences have inspired the international thrillers we all write.  This summer I have been writing and editing two more novels while enjoying a lovely summer in Southern California with family — and a new addition to the family — “Gambit” (we named him after the title of my second thriller).  He is a bit of a distraction from my work routine, but how can you ignore a little guy like this?

But back to the novels. When I served in The White House and the President was spending time at Camp David one summer, I was sent to South America to give speeches to various business and student groups explaining the President’s policies.  That exciting trip included time in several cities including Salvador, Recife, Sao Paulo along with the Capital City of Brasilia and everyone’s favorite vacation spot, Rio de Janeiro.  These last two cities provide most of the settings for my new novel, Affairs of State, about a young woman on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors who is sent to a conference in Brasilia and meets a man introduced as the Assistant Chief of Protocol at the State Department. But that’s only his cover.  He’s actually a Special Agent on a mission to prevent a national crisis. And while he initially just talks about arranging proper seating charts, does she ever figure out who he really is? And when she is in danger, can he rescue her while he’s been assigned to handle a completely different potential disaster?

Brasilia, Capital of Brazil
Brasilia’s “Crown of Thorns” Cathedral

Even though Brasilia was built over a half century ago in an effort to develop more of the interior regions of Brazil, the famed architect, Oscar Niemeyer, designed a city filled with “futuristic designs” that made me feel like I was an actress in a Science Fiction movie.  How’s this location for an international thriller filled with tension and intrigue?

In the story, the economist and the agent take a side trip to the gorgeous city of Rio de Janeiro and stay at the famous Copacabana Hotel across the road from the beach of the same name.  It’s romantic and yet dangerous as Rio is known as the home to a number of drug king-pins, kidnappers and other nefarious characters who all show up in Affairs of State.  And yet, imagine yourself taking a vacation here:

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

 When I finished that story, I edited another thriller this summer, Trust but Verify, about two Russian oligarchs who devise a deadly scheme to make a fortune. Much of the action takes place in Jackson, Wyoming where we had a summer home for many years. While you would naturally associate Jackson Hole with  challenging ski slopes, a new tram (that holds up to 100 people) and gorgeous scenery of the Tetons and nearby Yellowstone, in this thriller, the tram could be a target. Would you ride to the top of Rendezvous Mountain on this one?

Jackson Hole
Teton Village Tram

As for the characters, this time it’s the White House Director or Homeland Security paired  with an FBI Special Agent who must figure out how to pinpoint and stop an incredible plot.

So the question for you readers (and writers): how are you spending your summer? Are you traveling to any exotic locales — places where you could envision some unique characters becoming entangled in a threat to our national security perhaps?  Let us know — we’d love to hear your plans and ideas. Also, to find out the publication dates for Affairs of State and Trust but Verify — I will announce them later on my website:  Thanks for visiting us here….and do keep in touch.

Karna Small Bodman

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. S. Lee Manning

    Exciting descriptions of your works in progress. Can't wait to read them!

  2. Gayle Lynds

    Talk about how you spent your summer "vacation," Karna — WoW!

  3. Chris Goff

    Both books sound great! Looking forward to reading them–especially the one set in Rio. With the Olympics there this summer, it's a pretty timely destination.

  4. Sarah Andre

    Wow, well, traveled, Karna. I've spent the summer in my house or on my lanai. 🙁
    But in my book I'm chasing black market artifacts stemming from all the conflict archaeology ISIS controls.

  5. Diane O'Key

    Perfect locales for political thrillers. You're well traveled indeed!
    Spending the summer between our 2 homes…packing, donating, pitching as we plan to downsize to one house by mid-winter. Hope you're all having more fun than that LOL

  6. jean harrington

    Very glamorous settings for intrigue, Karna. Best of luck with these two new stories!

  7. Jamie Freveletti

    Love Jackson Hole and been on that tram a few times. Got to admit, I've never thought of it being a target (the last time I was there an avalanche took out the restaurant on the top of the mountain, so our fears were focused on that). Good idea for a thriller for sure!

  8. Sonja Stone

    Karna, you've really woven your rich personal history into your novels. And as an aside, Gambit is adorable!