Leslie Waller, novelist

My dead co-author, Leslie Waller.

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 AfternoonThe 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 Discovered among Waller’s papers were a handful of unpublished novels.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.

Chapter One. Welcome to to Berne. Black boxes and black widow spiders. Do not feed the bears.

Chapter Two. The subconscious mind. The inevitability of death, as seen behind pale blue eyes.

Chapter Three. The world seen from a Fond du Lac veranda. Explosions and decapitations.