It’s been 10 years since l’affaire Plame, one of the most notorious blown covers in CIA history, whose tangled web of intrigue snaked from the yellowcake forgeries of Niger to the halls of George W. Bush’s White House. It’s a twisted plot that would lend itself nicely to Valerie Plame’s newest gig, penning thrillers filled with undercover agents and assassins, black-market proliferation networks and political machinations. In Blowback, co-authored with veteran potboiler master Sarah Lovett, Plame introduces her heroine Vanessa Pierson, a blonde bombshell hot on the pursuit of a nefarious nuclear-arms dealer. The book races between Vienna and Cyprus, D.C. and Paris; it’s got sex, murder, and trashy Russians. In other words, a classic spy tale. Plame spoke with The Daily Beast about the real-life inspirations behind her book and the lingering fallout from being outed by the Neocons.
The Daily Beast: You and Vanessa Pierson, your novel’s protagonist, seem to share a lot of the same qualities—you are both blonde, you both have a CIA background, you share the same initials. How much of your own story and psychology is in your heroine?
Valerie Plame: There are a lot of things. I draw on my own experience. I very much wanted to depict a female CIA ops officer that was much more realistic, who has flaws but is smart and loves her job—but what comes with that is a great deal of frustration and challenges and trying to have some sort of normal relationships—hard under the best of circumstances, but especially in an otherwise crazy career. We both come from military families: My dad was Air Force and fought in WWII, but because of the timing, her father is Air Force and he was in Vietnam. Brother in the Marines, same as me. All the places in the book, I’ve been to, lived there or traveled there, worked there. I think that’s part of the appeal of, say, Bond. You’re not watching them for the dialogue—it’s taking you to exotic locales.