I, like many authors, periodically take stock of the various scenarios I’ve written about to see how many are playing out in the news. Interpreting current events and predicting their outcomes continues to be one of my favorite parts of the job. Whether I’m focused on politics, conflict zones, or technology, wreaking havoc in a way that feels in-the-moment can be a lot like fortune telling.
As fans know, Vince shared my obsession with cutting-edge realism. To revisit some of his best moments of clairvoyance, I talked to Ryan Steck—known to thousands online as the Rappologist. Ryan has dived deeper than anyone into the details of Mitch’s universe and runs the thriller website The Real Book Spy. Check him out if you haven’t already.
In Memorial Day, Rapp and a group of commandos chopper into Pakistan without permission from the Pakistani government. Their purpose? To hit a high-value target. Seven years after the book was published, Osama bin Laden was taken out pretty much as Vince envisioned. As if that weren’t enough, there was also a security review of the book because the plot featured the villain transporting a nuke via the Potomac River. Apparently, this hadn’t been considered in law enforcement circles.
In The Last Man, Vince touched on how dangerous America’s pull back in Afghanistan could be. He talked about green-on-blue violence and how allies can become enemies when the drawdown begins. While there had been only a few instances of this in Afghanistan prior to Vince’s book, the violence ramped up after publication. He managed to connect the dots early on, paralleling stories that later dominated headlines.
In the book, Vince also wrote about a high-ranking military official having an illicit affair with a woman at the State Department. The Last Man had barely hit shelves when the General Petraeus scandal broke.
Like Vince, I’ve made what I hoped were just educated guesses, only to find them coming to life in the real world. Here are a few of my more interesting predictions…
The old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a myth. This proverb kept running through my mind as I wrote The Survivor and explored America finally facing the much-ignored fact that the money we give Pakistan often ends up in the pockets of terrorists.
Now, a few years after the book’s release, the US government has publicly acknowledged the situation and significantly dialed back military aid to the country. As was laid out in The Survivor, it’s a dangerous game of nuclear-armed chicken.
Five days after I turned in my manuscript for Sphere of Influence, the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were attacked. My horror was amplified by the fact that the book I’d just written was about al-Qaeda—a relatively unknown terrorist organization at that time—carrying out a very similar terrorist act.
With our country in chaos, the storyline hit way too close to home and my editor considered the book unpublishable. I found myself scrambling to rewrite the storyline in a way that would obscure the similarities to 9/11.
It turns out that devising these kinds of ripped-from-the-headlines scenarios is an exciting game right up to the moment it’s not. We all pray that our plots stay where they belong—tucked safely between book covers.