Politics and Thrillers

I want to start by thanking the delightful Sarah Weinman for having me as a guest blogger.  I’ve never blogged before (I think “blogged” is a verb), and I feel like I’m jumping down the rabbit hole: I’m going to finish typing in a minute, hit “send”, and if these words end up on Sarah’s site, it’ll be magic as far as I’m concerned.  Now that I’ve established that I’m neither an English major nor a computer wizard, I can tell you what I am: a really nervous new writer whose only published two books (The Inside Ring and The Second Perimeter) and hoping that there will be a third.  I love this business!  I used to work for the U.S. Navy and fixed nuclear powered ships for a living and dealt with all the political crap that goes with that kind of job – so it shouldn’t be too hard to believe that writing fiction is a lot more fun that working on nuclear reactors.   

I don’t know what Sarah’s readers might get out of my appearance on her blog, but I’m hoping to get something out of it.  First, as I said, I’m new to the business so feedback on my stuff, if you’ve read it, both positive and negative,will be appreciated.  I know I’ve got a lot to learn.  The other day at a book signing this wonderful woman came up to me and said, “I really enjoyed your books, but, ya know, you’ve got kind of a potty mouth.”  So now as a result of that good lady’s comment I’m trying to decide if I should cut down on the blue-language (my instincts say maybe just a little) – but she’s got thinking about it.

The other thing I’d like to talk about is how much politics should there be in political thrillers.  As you may know, the main character in my novels is a troubleshooter/fixer for the Speaker of the House.  When I started writing the first novel, The Inside Ring, I tried not to even mention the Speaker’s political party, but it was too hard to write that way, always saying “the party”, “his party”, “the other party”, so I finally made the guy a Democrat.  I did this with some reluctance because the country’s so political divided that I didn’t want to alienate half my readers right out of the starting blocks. Like everyone else, I have strong (usually uninformed) political opinions, but I don’t want to preach politics in my books – I want to entertain.  But now, on my third book I’m having to pick a party for a bad guy, and he has to be a Republican – someone opposed to the Speaker – and I’m wondering how that’s gonna fly in the red states.  So, what do you all think, is it risky to identify political parties in thrilllers?  Are you offended when a writer takes a political position contrary to your own, or do you enjoy the story anyway?   Like the televion show “The West Wing”; I always wondered if it bugged Republicans, or if they just enjoyed the show because of the great writing.  Hope to hear from you and I’ll talk to you later.    Mike Lawson