Does anybody really expect James Bond movies to be authentic? Do we as an audience look at those films and think it is, in any way, the manner that the British secret service operates? Of course not. That isn’t why we watch those movies or read those novels. It’s a heightened look at a particular world filtered through the lens of a specific genre. That does not invalidate the stories or their ability to entertain.
One of the things I have struggled with in regard to finishing One Fate For Failure has been striking the right chord when it comes to tone. How realistic do I want to be while telling this story. Our central protagonist is a CIA operative, specifically a Specialized Skills Officer (SSO) working within the Special Activities Division/Special Operations Group (SAD/SOG). This is a real position within the real world. I’ve done a lot of research to figure out what sort of person, realistically, would be in this position.
The sources I’ve found indicate that people in this field are internally recruited from various military backgrounds, particularly special forces, and the maximum age for agents of this type is 35 years old. An article from 2003 in Time Magazine stated that recruits were expected to have five years of military service.
This gave me a rough idea of who Maddie would be and what phase of her career she would be in. Now, from what I have researched regarding females in special forces, simply being involved in SAD/SOG would make Maddie a rare breed of individual. The Pentagon only dropped restrictions on females in combat positions in 2013, meaning that in 2015 she would still not have the requisite 5 years of experience to be recruited to SAD/SOG. This is where the concept of real world vs. entertainment starts to come in to play.
I began writing this novel as a complete flip of the tropes found in the James Bond novels and films, complete with the opening action sequence among other more recognizable aspects. Our central character always had to be female in order for the story to work. That clashes with the world we actually live in. Does that invalidate the book? I would like to hope not.
I am also a civilian with no military experience, so all that I have to go on when writing this is what I have researched and what I have seen portrayed in other forms of media. Therefore you will have to forgive me if you feel like I have done a disservice to the actual service these men and women perform. This is a heightened reality that I am writing, and while some of the stylistic choices of my novel fall closer to Tom Clancy than Ian Fleming, I do not pretend to have operational knowledge of how special forces or clandestine operations actually work. This is an adventure story, pure and simple.
I write this so that people do not get the wrong impression about the book. While I strive for realism in whatever way I can, this is ultimately a fantasy/wish-fulfillment sort of narrative and a deconstruction of a particular genre. I hope that everyone will appreciate it for what it is.