Clinton and Penny team up to write novel ‘State of Terror’

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As US forces leave Afghanistan this summer and the Taliban seize control, Hillary Rodham Clinton responds not only as a former Secretary of State, but in a capacity she never imagined for herself – a novelist. As for his first work of fiction, expect current events.

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“State of Terror,” completed months ago and coming out this week, is a thriller co-written by Clinton and her friend Lewis Penney, the best-selling crime novelist. The main character, Ellen Adams, is a new secretary of state with a backstory familiar to Clinton watchers—a surprising choice for an administration led by her lifelong political rival, as Barack Obama brought to Clinton after the 2008 election. Were.

Secretary Adams will soon catch Clinton in one of his nightmare scenarios while in Washington – an international terrorist plot involving nuclear weapons. Somewhat of the trouble arises in Afghanistan, where previous administrations of President Eric Dunn like Trump have struck a deal (as did Trump) that allows Adams to effectively give the country back to the Taliban and increase the risk of terrorist activity. sees as.


“We had drawn the framework a year or so before the (2020) elections. We didn’t know who would win. We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Clinton explained during a recent joint interview with Penny at the Simon & Schuster offices in midtown Manhattan. “Whoever was going to win — Trump, or I hoped, Biden — would be facing a failed feat.”

The nearly 500-page novel adds other details that resonate with recent news—for example, a chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who, like General Mark Milley under Trump, challenges civilian leadership—with the pursuit of friendship; a cameo for Penny’s famed fictional investigator, Armand Gamache; And, for the writers, the joy of putting women of a certain age at the center of a political thriller.

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Sitting together on a modestly sized sofa, Clinton and Penny converse like two public people who know well enough to share talking points with the media, while traveling, eating, trusting, jokes and mutual respect are private. Clearly share history. When Penny recalled her anticipation of meeting Clinton—”Hillary Clinton, my god, just so impressive, smart, and thoughtful”—Clinton rolled her eyes with a smile.

“Do you remember the first time we actually met?” Penny told Clinton. This was in a New York restaurant, just months after Clinton’s surprise loss to Trump in 2016.

“And you were at an event, I think the first post-election event in Boston,” Penny recalled. “So you’re late, and you came to this restaurant—a public restaurant, obviously. And she showed up at the door, and the restaurant was beating. Peace. Peace. And then as one, they got up and applauded.” .

“It was in New York,” laughed Clinton—her home state, where she won by double digits.

Each author reflects on their friendship and professional partnership in a “state of terror”. It turned out that they admired each other for a long time. Penny had followed Clinton’s career from the early 1990s, when Bill Clinton was first elected president, while Clinton’s best friend Betsy Johnson Ebeling told a reporter in 2016 that she and Clinton were both in crime novels. was a fan of and was reading pennies.

Penny met Ebeling shortly after the interview, and was shocked to learn that someone so close to Hillary Clinton was not an “intimidating power broker,” but a modest, meek woman with “the warmest smile and kindest eyes.” She heard from Clinton a few weeks later. Penny’s husband, Michael, had died of dementia, and among her condolence cards was a card from Clinton that cited her accomplished medical career and offered thoughts on loss and grief.

“Secretary Clinton, in the final stages of a brutally brutal campaign for the most powerful job in the world, took the time to write to me,” wrote Penny, adding that he had yet to meet and that Penny of Canada could. Vote for him

“It was an act of selflessness that I will never forget, and that has inspired me to be kinder in my life.”

The book is shaped by Penny’s narrative style and Clinton’s governmental experiences and worldviews, but also by sadness that Clinton still finds difficult to “fully accept”. Ellen Adams is based on Clinton’s friend, former Under Secretary of State Ellen Tosher, who died in April 2019. The inspiration for Allen’s best friend, Betsy Jameson, in “State of Terror”, died only a few months later. Ellen Adams’ daughter Katherine is named after Tosher’s daughter.

Hillary Clinton, whose closest experience writing a novel was a play written in sixth grade about a trip to Europe, is not the first in her family to do so: Bill Clinton has completed two bestselling thrillers with James Patterson, and Her success prompted some publishing executives to wonder whether Hillary should try to do the same.

The idea to team up with Penny began with longtime industry executive Stephen Rubin, who has been a consulting publisher at Simon & Schuster since March 2020.

In a recent email to the AP, he mentioned that Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp was looking for ideas for a new book by Hillary Clinton, who has been with the publisher for more than 20 years and has produced a bestselling memoir. Living History” and “What Happened,” among others. Penny’s publisher is St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan, where Rubin once worked.

“I knew and really liked Lewis from my days at Macmillan,” Rubin wrote. “And I knew he and Mrs. Clinton were very close friends.”



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