by | Jun 26, 2016 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

What kind of spy would you be?

Are you ruthless? Trustworthy? Cool-headed? Take the quiz to find out if you’ve got what it takes, then read about a few of my favorite spies.

by Sonja Stone

So by now everyone who’s ever spoken to me knows: I want to be a spy. I have spy-envy.

Case in point: Over a decade ago, I proposed a secret-agent-themed birthday party to my oldest child.

ME: It’ll be so much fun! We could play spies!

THING 1: (claps hands) Yeah! OR *eight-year-old-squeal* WHAT ABOUT A MERMAID PARTY?!

ME: (nods, pretending to consider) Sure, sure. We could do mermaids. Or, what about this: we could do spies!

THING 2: Will there be cake?

ME: Secret agent cake! 

THING 1: I think I like mermaids better.

ME: (still nodding) Yeah, mermaids are awesome, no doubt about it. But you know what’s even more awesome? It starts with ‘S’ and ends with… No? No guesses?

Being an indulgent mother, I allowed my daughter to dash any hopes of vicariously reliving my childhood. She got to choose her own theme (mermaids). 

And to this day, I’m still trying to play spies.

Is it any wonder, then, that some of my favorite spies embody characteristics that I also have? 

(Yes, I know. I have a remarkably rich fantasy life. Let the comparisons begin.)

SPY: Julia Child

Julia Child: spy, chef, author, wife, mother
Julia Child in Ceylon

WHY SHE’S A FAVORITE: During World War II, Julia Child—too tall to join the military—served in the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA). While stationed abroad, her culinary palate developed. She attended Le Cordon Bleu  (like me), then became a writer (also like me). In the 1970s, Julia made French cooking accessible to the American audience through her show, The French Chef, on PBS (My parents didn’t believe in cable; I grew up on PBS. Yeah, I’m that girl.).

SHE SAYS: “In my generation, except for a few people who’d gone into banking or nursing or something like that, middle-class women didn’t have careers. You were to marry and have children and be a nice mother. You didn’t go out and do anything. I found that I got restless.”

SHE ALSO SAYS: “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing

SPY: Alan Turing

WHY HE’S A FAVORITE: Besides the obvious of cracking The Enigma Code to help win the war, Turing was an introvert (guilty as charged), a bad student (yours truly), and a “scruffy” dresser (I live in yoga pants and tee-shirts. Seriously.). When Turing was arrested for indecency (because in the 50s, being gay was a crime), rather than deny the charges, he logically and unapologetically stated that homosexuality shouldn’t be against the law. Quite the forward thinker.

HE SAYS:Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.”

SPIES: Antonio and Jonna Mendez

Antonio and Jonna Mendez, The Master of Disguise, Argo
Jonna Mendez’s Invisible Ink
WHY THEY’RE FAVORITES: While Antonio is best known as the agent behind the hit movie Argo, I fell for him while reading his fascinating account of life during the Cold War, The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA. His wife Jonna, formerly “chief of disguise” of the CIA, put her spy skills to work as a civilian. A few years ago, Jonna was tapped by Target to serve as the holiday Kids’ Gift Detective. She wrote a series of articles for parents, including hiding holiday gifts using crypsis (camouflage), writing a letter to Santa with home-made invisible ink, and using covert-ops to discover what the kiddies really want this year. I’m a sucker for a stealth mom.

ANTONIO SAYS: “The trick is that you have to believe the lie and believe it so much that the lie becomes the truth.”

JONNA SAYS: “You’ve got to think about how to outsmart them. It’s part of the fun.” The Washington Post

Still, if I could live the life of any spy, I’d stick with the fictional characters. Jason Bourne. Sydney Bristow. Ziva David. How about you–if you could be any spy, real or imagined, who would you choose?
photo credits: 
Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. S. Lee Manning

    Good blog. Yes, I used to love to play spy when I was a kid. I would follow around shopping malls in Cincinnati, Ohio to hone my craft. Now, I am guilty of eavesdropping on neighboring conversations in restaurants and coffee shops. (There's a lot of cross over between spying and writing, isn't there?)

  2. Sonja Stone

    So true, S. Lee! You wouldn't believe what I can justify as "research." I had a private detective agency as a kid. My parents let me fingerprint them. 🙂

  3. Gayle Lynds

    I love your sense of adventure, Sonja! You are a born spy … er, excellent spy writer!

  4. Sonja Stone

    Thanks, Gayle! I definitely enjoy my delusions of grandeur…

  5. Jamie Freveletti

    Love mermaids–and spies! I also adore all the Jason Bourne movies (Bourne Ultimatum my favorite). And forgot about Julia Child. What an interesting life she led! Great post.

  6. Sonja Stone

    Jamie, I have to admit the mermaid party was pretty cool. And I am so excited for the new Jason Bourne movie!

  7. Karna Bodman

    Your quiz says I would make a good spy — but who knows? I do recall some time back when I was working in The White House I wrote a "Memcon" (Memorandum of Conversation) about an encounter I had with a Russian official at a social gathering on the Hill (who turned out to be #3 in the KGB). Later, an FBI team came to my office to talk about it — and asked if I might consider joining their force. I demurred (I couldn't imagine, at that time, becoming an FBI agent). After all of that I did start writing political thrillers — about other characters who have much more courage than I. Great post — thanks!

  8. Francine Mathews

    I notice that the International Spy Museum has children's party kits, now, complete with goody bags filled with spy paraphernalia. So you're not alone. Love this post!

  9. Sonja Stone

    Karna, how exciting! I've seen pictures of you during your tenure at The White House. I'm not the least bit surprised you caught the eye of a high-ranking member of the KGB.

  10. Sonja Stone

    Francine, my youngest and I visited the Spy Museum a few years ago; I spent as much time in the gift shop as I did touring the museum! It was great fun!