I wrote this book with a dead man.
In 2007, a few weeks after his death, the daughter and son-in law of Leslie Waller were cleaning out his Florida condo. Waller was a novelist whose works included Hide in Plain Sight, Dog Day Afternoon, The New York Times 1971 bestseller The American and a co-write with Steven Spielberg of the novelization of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Discovered among Waller’s papers were a handful of unpublished novels. Confession, written in 1995, dealt with a Nixon-like former president who is kidnapped by eco-terrorists and forced to confess his crimes. I was asked to re-write and update it.
I responded by changing the president into a thinly veiled George W. Bush confessing to his administration’s bad behavior. In fact, the confessions of ex-president Frederick W. Field are actual quotes from Bush. While the tone retains much of Waller’s original style (irreverent smartass gadfly, heavy on sex and violence) the re-written manuscript is more playful, and has evolved with complex issues never envisioned by Les: war in Afghanistan, climate-change profiteering, New-Age scams and home-grown espionage agents (Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are referenced) who leave their offices with the digital data from a federal agency’s computers hidden in a jacket pocket. Intelligence agents and terrorists alike are forced to cope with 21st-century realities in unexpected, amusing ways.