The “what if” of THE ASSASSIN’S LIST

Readers often ask where the idea for a story comes from; do you start with “what if…” and work from there, or wake up one morning with the plot for a novel lingering from a dream you had. In my case, it’s a little of both.

My first novel, THE ASSASSIN’S LIST (} is about a terror plot to assassinate American leaders in retaliation for jihadist leaders killed by drone strikes. The way the terrorists might accomplish these assassinations was a bit of a problem for me, having no training or experience as a terrorist.

But I do read and research a lot, and two items I’d come across kept swirling around in my head. The first was an article in 2007 about blacks being recruited for terror by al-Qaida ( Al-Qaida’s Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri in a videotaped message had called for black Muslims in America to rise up against oppression and, if they didn’t, they would be considered no better than “house slaves”. Al-Zawahiri’s goal was to recruit blacks for terror cells, primarily from our prisons, who could travel freely when released in America, and also to sow political and racial discontent in the country.

The second item was the Justice Department’s criminal complaint in 2011 that alleged a bold plot by Iran’s Qods Force leaders to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States while he was in a restaurant in Washington, D.C. ( Assassination was clearly a tool that was still in vogue in the Middle East.

With those two events, the speech and the planned assassination, to work with, the “what if” went like this: what if black Americans, who had converted to Islam while in prison and were radicalized there, posed as security guards throughout the country and set out to assassinate ten prominent American leaders from all walks of life? Could they succeed? Who would stop them?

That’s the way THE ASSASSIN’S LIST developed, from a dream and a “what if” moment. Next week I’ll tell you a little about how the second book in the Adam Drake series came about.

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