As I get very close to finishing Conspire, I have started to think about the way the novel might be positioned in the thriller market.
When I first started writing the plot, I was very determined to create a fast paced conspiracy thriller that would appeal to people who have an interest in conspiracy theories. This is not to say that my readers would have to be conspiracy theorists – they don’t have to believe in conspiracies, rather just have an interest in how they come about, who is responsible for them and perhaps wonder if there could perhaps be some truth in them.
As my plot unfolded, it became more obvious that this was not just a conspiracy thriller, but also a political thriller. Perhaps it’s best to call it a political conspiracy thriller. In any good thriller, the author creates a situation where there is a threat against individuals and often large parts of the community, and the protagonist has the job of removing the threat so that the reader is left with a satisfied feeling that all is again right with the world. Or even maybe the world is better than it was before the threat was revealed.
This idea brings me to another revelation I have had. I am a very politically active person. As a writer, it’s impossible not to let my political ideology influence the outcome of the plot. Put simply, my perspective of a happy ending is very much based on what my idea of a perfect world, politically, looks like.
The outcome of this is that I have written a left-wing, or progressive political thriller, without really meaning to.
The market is full of best-selling thrillers that have right-wing ideology behind their plots. Brad Thor, New York Times best-selling author, is a regular guest on the Glenn Beck show. He is introduced in an interview on the blog ‘Family Security Matters’ as the author of The Scot Harvath series of books which is “a conservative reader’s godsend – Harvath is tough on terror, fed up with greedy politicians, and a true patriot who sacrifices whatever he can for his country.”
Other right-wing thriller authors include Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn and William F Buckley. These authors have made successful careers out of plots that pander to America’s love for strong patriotism and using whatever means necessary to eradicate baddies such as cold war villains and Islamic terrorists.
There is, however, some balance in the market, where liberal readers can find plots that align more closely with their ideals. Barry Eisler, who I’ve written about before on this blog, a successful self-published author, writes progressive thrillers which are based on his career in the CIA and as a lawyer. As explained on the blog ‘The Progressive Reader’, In Eisler’s latest book, Inside Out, “the existence of a stash of damning CIA interrogation tapes, and the government’s whatever-it-takes campaign to keep them secret, propels a plot that also features torture, ghost detainees, renditions, coverups. Except, in this case, the government operatives’ tough-guy heroics end up not saving the day, a la Thor and Flynn, but radicalizing America’s enemies and making the nation less safe.” Other successful progressive thriller authors include Robert Ludlum, John le Carre and Stieg Larsson.
I’m hoping that my work keeps the reader guessing and isn’t so laden with progressive ideals that it is no longer satisfying to readers of any political persuasion. But if I had to be placed on one side of the political spectrum or the other, it’s no surprise that my plot sits on the left.