Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How U.S. and Libyan Relations Influenced the Writing of Gauntlet by Richard Aaron

Today's special guest is Richard Aaron, author of the suspense novel, Gauntlet.

Six hundred sixty tons of Semtex is detonated in a massive explosion in Libya – the last of a deadly stockpile. The operation seems to have gone smoothly, but within minutes of the explosion, CIA agent Richard Lawrence discovers that one shipment of the explosive was hijacked en route to the destruction point. Days later, a glory-seeking “Emir” broadcasts to the world that he is planning a massive terrorist strike against a major U.S. landmark. And he gives a timeline of one month.

Now a desperate chase covers four continents, as the men bent on attacking the United States use every weapon at their disposal to evade the American authorities. Time and again they prove willing to destroy anything – and anyone – standing in their way.

But Hamilton Turbee, an autistic computer mastermind at the secretive and newly created TTIC agency, discovers a way to follow their tracks. His flawed genius gives the nation its only chance at stopping the attack … if the American leadership will listen. As the enemies near their destination, and an attack becomes imminent, it is up to the TTIC team, still without a true leader, to stop the massive explosion that could destroy the lives of millions.

As the world watches in horror, the President asks TTIC two questions …

Where will the attack be?

And can it be stopped…

I've asked Richard to discuss how U.S. and Libyan relations might have influenced the writing of Gauntlet. Here's what he had to say:

In Gauntlet, I needed, for the terrorists to execute their task, a good four or five tons of plastic explosive. I needed a realistic scenario in which this could be accomplished. I also needed a good opening line (“so just how big a crater will it make if we blow up 660 tons of Semtex?”) and a large incendiary event that would grab the reader’s interest and keep it. I was specifically looking for an event that could happen it the real world.

When I started doing research, I found that Libya was a natural fit. That country is on a path of normalizing relationships with the UK, USA, and International Community. This process started in 1999, when Libya acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the murder of a senior British official, and the Lockerbie Flight 103 disaster. At that point, Libya undertook to make reparations for these and other events.

Libya has in its possession a very large quantity of Semtex. It is clear from the records of the Czechoslovakian company that manufactured this substance that Libya, in the mid ‘80s, purchased almost all of the production for an entire year. Out of a very large inventory, only a small portion of it would have gone into bringing down Flight 103 (less than a pound). Libya also supplied the IRA and other terrorist organizations with small amounts of the explosive material. Hence, the demand by the International Community to have this stockpile destroyed is not unreasonable.

It was for these reasons that Gauntlet starts in Libya, where the country’s entire stock of Semtex is being hauled out to the middle of the Sahara desert to be destroyed. This also creates a situation where the theft of 4.5 tons of the Semtex is possible. These aren’t things I made up to fit into my plot. They are realistic, plausible events from the real world that I could use to get the novel going.


"Cutting-edge research, complex plotting and in-depth characterizations lift Aaron's debut, a terrorist thriller. Afghan Yousseff Said al-Sabbhan, who's built an enormous drug-smuggling enterprise, has worked out with his co-conspirator, 'the Emir,' a plan to destroy an American city and bring the country to its knees. Opposing the plotters is the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, a secret agency staffed by men and women drawn from every sector of the U.S. intelligence community. Autistic mathematician Hamilton Turbee, a TTIC employee, is a standout in a vast cast of characters, surely one of the most interesting and endearing heroes ever to star in an action adventure novel. Despite the incredible amount of detail and the constant flashbacks, Aaron keeps the action moving swiftly forward. Some readers may be frustrated by the abrupt ending as well as patches of mundane prose, but all will eagerly await the two projected sequels."
Publishers Weekly

"First novelist Aaron writes rich dialog and vivid action, not to mention fascinating characters."
Library Journal

"Incredible, multifaceted… The suspense is almost painful. I found myself on the edge of my seat, biting my nails… This novel is intense!"

Richard Aaron lives in a cold, northwestern city with his wife, four children, and various dogs and cats. He has a university degree in mathematics and a masters in law. Neither have anything to do with his burgeoning career as a writer. He worked in the real world for two decades before realizing that he was actually meant to be a writer. Gauntlet was produced soon thereafter.

You can visit his website at


Storyheart said...

Thank you so much for sharing looks a very interesting book


Cheryl S. said...

This is one I'm going to have to read - looks intriguing!