As I entered the thesis phase of my Masters, I had already completed a sizable novel, Snowbirds, in the first year of studies. My mentor, David Grand, felt that my work was all but done and I could cruise through the process of simply workshopping and editing Snowbirds again, but I don't like to do 'easy'. I chose to start writing an entirely new, unrelated novel at the start of the semester. What I ended up with is an intriguing 80,000-word book that weaves real incidents with speculation.
Able Archer comes from an actual set of events that took place in 1983. The Cold War was coming to its climax, with Ronald Reagan driving up military spending and rhetoric. America was poking the wounded Soviet Union with a stick, practically begging the beast to lash out. Things came to a head in September 1983. While the US and its allies performed war exercises, the Soviet Union shot down a civilian airliner. Then, less than three weeks later, a Soviet military satellite registered multiple nuclear Minuteman ICBM launches from the United States.
Everything I just said is true. Just as it is true that Stanislav Petrov, a low-level officer at a satellite tracking station outside of Moscow, prevented a retaliatory strike by the Soviet Union. His cool, calm reasoning gave just enough pause to truncate a chain of events that could have been catastrophic. It is a story so compelling that Academy Award winners Kevin Costner, Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon and Martin Scorsese have all expressed an interest in retelling the tale. The Man Who Saved the World (2014)
It is because the story is so intriguing that I wanted to delve into the psyche of the people on the front lines-- the spies, the soldiers, the leaders, and play with the possibilities of, "What if?" In Able Archer, I take actual events and intertwine them with fiction. I study human behavior and mob mentality. And, I theorize what might have been. It is the prequel to dystopia.