Writing the Unthinkable: Do we write about everything we imagine?
I write political thrillers. I call them “political reality thrillers,” because to me, so much is based on what’s real; what’s in the new; what we need to consider.
Russian Sleeper Cell Spies still operating in the U.S.
Vulnerability of our completely open society.
The power of hate radio in the wrong hands.
Terrorists among us.
The dangerous flaws in our current presidential succession laws.
The threat of a nationwide attack on our most valuable natural resource.
My novels deal with all of those critical realities with nail-biting tension and at a breakneck speed. Readers will follow a contemporary plot to overthrow the presidency drawn from an actual 1932 coup attempt to oust President Roosevelt. The books delve into a terrorist plot designed to create civil unrest on a scale that drives the economy down and our social structure to rock bottom. They offer up a master assassin with a back-story that is rooted in the Gulf War. All possible…all within our lifetimes.
My next novel, Executive Command, coming out summer 2012, takes the unfinished plots elements from the first two books further. It focuses on a domestic terrorist target that, if attacked on the scale that I propose, would truly have tragic and long-term impact on our system, civil order, and trust in our government.
But how deep should I go with my writing? Where does imagination meet the potential for imitation?
The short answer is that novelists and screenwriters have opened the eyes of readers, politicians and the military. We research and we write. Sometimes we hit upon something so fearful that it must be considered. That’s happening more than ever. It’s happening because of 9/11 and writers in the genre like Tom Clancy who said his job is to identify a point of vulnerability and then try to see how to address it.
In Debt of Honor, Clancy proposed the hi-jacking of a plane and crashing it into the Capital. Had the Pentagon or the White House considered such a horrific scenario? From what I understand, no. But now they are listening to screenwriters and reading authors more closely.
In fact, after 9/11 the Pentagon sought the advice of filmmakers and content creators to help brainstorm other potential terrorist plots in an attempt to Think the Unthinkable. But do they “get” it?
I have a friend who told it to me this way. “Some people get The New York Times, but don’t read it. Others read the New York Times, but they don’t GET it.” I consider the same true for e-mails and some conversation. Just because you read it or hear it, do you really “GET” the meaning.
We can only hope, maybe insist, that Washington reads and gets what we’re writing.
I work with advisers on Capital Hill, in the military, the intelligence community and law enforcement. I listen to them, then create.
What we research and imagine can come true. Thinking the unthinkable is our job. However, I believe that writing a terrorist playbook is not. Accordingly, I carefully review the detail to avoid publishing a “how-to handbook” of things that I have learned from my contacts. But as a novelist as well as commentator, journalist and TV documentarian I want to raise awareness to the threats we face and do it through dramatic, exciting and fact-based platforms. Most of all in thrilling reads. That’s why I consider EXECUTIVE ACTIONS and EXECUTIVE TREASON important “political reality thrillers.” I hope you’ll agree.
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Gary Grossman is an Emmy Award-winning network television producer, a print and television journalist, and novelist. He has produced more than 9,000 television shows for 40 broadcast and cable networks including primetime specials, reality and competition series and live event telecasts.
Grossman’s producing credits include “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (ABC), “American Detective” (ABC), the immensely successful global syndicated series “Entertainment Tonight,” “The Television Academy Hall of Fame” (FOX), “Day’s End” (ABC), “Heroes for the Planet” (National Geographic Channel), “The Turnaround” (CNN), and “Wanna Bet?” (CBS) based on the long-running German ZDF series “Wettan Dass?”
He received the prestigious National Governor’s Emmy for his documentary special “Healing the Hate” (USA Network) and an Emmy for “Wolfgang Puck” (Food Network). His special “Beyond the Da Vinci Code” (History Channel) earned two national Emmy nominations, making a total of 14 Emmy nominations to date. Other producing credits include the documentary reality series “I-Witness Video” (NBC News), the entertainment special “Happy Birthday Bugs” (CBS), “American Chronicles” (FOX) with filmmaker David Lynch, and live prime time events for Fox, CBS, Fox News, CNBC, and PBS, among other networks.
Gary Grossman has been a principal in Weller/Grossman Productions, a leading independent television production company based in Los Angeles. He helped formulate, program and launch television cable networks including HGTV, Fit TV, National Geographic Channel, and The Africa Channel. His most recent collaboration is with development of ATLXTV, a sports-tier network set to premiere in 2012. In addition, he is a partner in World Media Strategies, a new International branded entertainment marketing content company that produces television specials and series for travel destinations, corporate clients and government entities including Ford, Time Magazine and Puerto Rico.
Grossman is also author of two celebrated “political reality thrillers” now available as eBooks, EXECUTIVE ACTIONS and EXECUTIVE TREASON (Diversion Books, NYC) and two acclaimed non-fiction books covering pop culture and television history – SUPERMAN: SERIAL TO CEREAL and SATURDAY MORNING TV.
Grossman taught journalism, film and television at Emerson College, Boston University, and USC and has guest lectured at colleges and universities around the United States. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Emerson College in Boston and he serves on the Boston University Metropolitan College Advisory Board. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers Association.
Gary Grossman lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Helene. They have three children.