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  1. CharlestsWhitfield
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    CharlestsWhitfield Member

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    Spy Novels

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by CharlestsWhitfield, Feb 3, 2014.

    I was wondering what others people have to say about spy fiction in and its popularity. To me the spy thriller genre is not as popular as it used to be. This really is kind of sad, because I love the genre very much, and in the process of writing my own spy novel. The problem is, I don't want my book to eventually be published and have no one buy it.

    I understand why this might be. You can only tell the same plots over and over, until the reader becomes tired and eventually leaves the genre.

    If you're a name in spy fiction, only then will people notice your work. For new authors, who knows? My questions is, what is your opinion on the spy genre? Do you think its dead? Will it be as popular as it used to be?
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    The end of the Cold War pretty much put an end to good spy fiction. Most authors who worked in that genre switched to terrorism as a premise. I was a huge fan of spy fiction back in its heyday, and don't much care for the terrorist stuff. The move from humint (use of people to gather intelligence) to reliance on electronic means (see NSA) took away a lot of the conflict available to spy fiction authors. Any realistic description of current intelligence-gathering would only interest uber-geeks, I think.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there will probably always be a market for spy fiction, though how wide/narrow depends a lot on current events... at present, the arab world takes the place vacated by russia when the cold war petered out... ten, twenty years from now, it's anyone's guess who the mvp 'bad guys' will be...

    then there's industrial/corporate espionage, which is time-proof, since it's been going on ever since the dawn of the industrial age... though not many writers seem to find it exciting enough to write about, it's a fertile field, imo, that has infinite potential...

    and of course cyber-spies are fair game now, though not as popular among novelists as they are to filmmakers...

    so, no, it's not dead... and no one can say whether the new range of spy novels will become as popular as those in the heyday of innes, follet, le carre, forsyth, ludlum and their confreres... but one can hope...............
     
  4. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Spy" novels still regularly come out, but these days they tend to focus on the action and not the the tradecraft.

    "Burned out CIA black ops specialist is forced to return to action when his wife/child/best friend is killed and discovers that it is really a huge plot by Iranian intelligence to .... " sort of thing.

    The current TV series "Intelligence" describes the "new" approach very well. Spy gets secret gizmo stuck in his head that makes spying unnecessary and is sent out on missions to basically gun down lots of "bad guys", often in their own country.
     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Bryan pointed out, spy novels are still alive and well, they have merely metamorphosed into something a little different from James Bond - although, in all fairness, the Daniel Craig films may have breathed new life into the books as well as women from the age of 18 to 80.

    There are a lot of novels, films, tv shows that might fall into the category of spy novel, they just don't look quite the same as they used to.

    And, I tend to agree that it is kind of sad that there doesn't seem to be as much interest in them as prior to 1991 CCCP 'revision'. (I don't see a lot of changes in Russia since then so, in my book, with Vladimir Putin practically the cover boy for 'Soviet Life' magazine, they've just changed the names to protect the guilty.) The good news is that, as the world changes, everybody is still spying on everybody else so there is still plenty of fodder for a skilled novelist and curious minds.

    Keep writing. As mamma said, don't know how big an audience you may have but, you will have an audience. Good luck.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Political & paranoic tension always helped amp up the spy novel so that wars & the cold war were always fruitful to the writer. Maybe take your spy thriller towards a different route - tensions in Africa, or North Korea - if you can tap into a hot subject you could reach a broader audience.

    Also, I wouldn't worry about a flagging genre a good book can always revive it.
     
  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nikita has been re-made in several versions, both for the cinema and most recently for TV, so general public interest in espionage hasn't completely waned. Throw in a few assassins and you'll have it made.

    Seriously though, all you need is to find a fresh approach to the subject that will draw initial attention. Perhaps it's time for a re-imagining of The Man From UNCLE :) What about a story about a group of widows whose husbands were all betrayed and killed by a traitor in the CIA/NSA/SPCA and they get together to avenge their spouses.
     
  8. novemberjuliet
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    novemberjuliet Member

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    I think the level of research the author has can determine whether or not a spy novel is believable as far as what a "spy" actually does. Usually human intelligence comes to mind when thinking of spies and, contrary to popular belief, there isn't much run for running gun battles and high profile chases in urban environments where maintaining cover is a priority. I personally like a well written spy novel but I feel a lot of authors blend together the capabilities beteen spies and commandos a bit much, which personally can pull me out of the story.
     

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