Saturday, June 9, 2012

Karna Small Bodman

JAN BROGAN:  Karna Bodman was on the air for 15 years as a TV news anchor and reporter in San Francisco and Washington, DC. She then served six years in The White House, first as deputy press secretary, later as senior director of the National Security Council (where she was the highest ranking woman on the White House staff). Now she is writing political thrillers (her books have hit “#1 in Thrillers on Amazon”) NYT bestselling author Christopher Reich calls her her new (4th) novel  Castle Bravo, "smart, slick and as exciting as hell." It just came out in hardback and trade paperback  (audio and e-book versions are “in production” and will be up shortly).

Please welcome Karna to Jungle Red!! 

KARNA BODMAN: Conjuring up plot lines for my series of thrillers (with a romantic twist), I figured out I could play off the many events and crises that hit The White House -- in any administration – but particularly those that occurred during the six years that I worked there – first as Deputy Press Secretary and finally as Senior Director and Spokesman for the National Security Council.

As I wrote scenes for Castle Bravo, inside the Situation Room where we had morning staff meetings, the Roosevelt Room where we had all sorts of planning meetings, and in the Oval Office where – well –  where we were honored to enter once in a while…I’ve tried to capture not only the “scenery” but the conversation, the mood, and  the sense of  near “panic” at times when dealing with a threat to the country.

For this new story, I was inspired by a conversation I had with the Major General in charge of our entire missile defense system – worldwide.  He said, “Let me tell you why we really need a great missile defense system. Imagine that it’s a few years down the road and there is a country that doesn’t like us or some militant group that somehow has procured a small nuclear device. (We all know they’ve been trying.)  And let’s say they also have a delivery vehicle – which could be as simple as a scud missile (Some guy tried to sell one of those on e-Bay for $2 million bucks a while back – we caught him pretty quickly!).  And let’s say they’re off our coast on a ship disguised as a fishing boat – we’d never find them. And finally, let’s say that instead of aiming that weapon at one of cities, which would be absolutely devastating, of course – they aim it straight up and detonate it perhaps 50 miles up in the atmosphere. Now, that would set off what we call an “Electro-Magnetic Pulse” (or EMP) that would “fry” all the electronics on the ground.
That means we’d have no electricity grid, no internet, no cell phones, ATMs, transportation, refrigeration, sanitation, aviation….it would set us back to the year 1910 ” These systems wouldn’t “come back” like they do after a black-out. No! The electronics would be destroyed and would need to be completely replaced – which could take months…or years.

When I heard all of this I knew I had to write a story about it because while some in our government are paying attention, it’s not nearly enough .  And while a lot of us write about “real” threats, I always have a hero and heroine trying to work together to stop the “bad guys” – and sometimes fall in love in the process. Some call these stories “romantic thrillers.”  Men say they like the “action” but women often say they also like “the relationships.” So in our writing, while we may be trying send some sort of “message” we want readers to have a good time in the process. One of my favorite quotes is from George Bernard Shaw who said, “The best way to get your point across is to entertain.”

Karna Small Bodman –

JAN: Karna will be happy to answer any of your questions about romantic thrillers or her fascinating history! 


  1. Oh, Karna, what an irresitible idea! And welcome to JR!

    Inside politics and the access to power is so fascinating--what was it like to be involved with that every day?

    When you see those press coferences now--as a former insider, what goes through your mind-do you parse their expressions and wonder what's really going on?

  2. Wow Karna, your books sound so exciting. My question (really) is how you write about these things without scaring yourself to death?

  3. Hank and Lucy - thanks for your comments. When I watch what's happening in The White House right now, I'm actually VERY upset about all the leaks of natioal security info -- sure hope we get a Special Prosecutor! As for "scacaring myself" - I am really scared about this whole "EMP" threat situation! I mean - how long would any of us "last" if it ever happened? I guess the Amish would do OK - but not me, that's for sure. Thanks for reading!...Karna

  4. Welcome, Karna! Your books sound fascinating! What was it like being the highest ranking woman at the White House? We all know that highest echelon of politics is not usually welcoming to women.

    I've been familiar with the threat of EMP from reading science fiction (which usually has tomorrow's science today). Do you think, without access to our electrical grid and electronics, that we'd be able to recreate the system before we sank into anarchy or sustained another attack?

  5. Off on a little tangent Linda, this is why I never read much sci-fi, including the late, great Ray Bradbury. I had that story stuck in my head forever, in which people were taking a chance of driving through a tunnel that could be closed off at any moment...too. scary.

  6. Yes, Lucy, science fiction can be scary, but I find fabulous ideas there. There's a lot of very good sf and fantasy being published today. They're kind of experiencing a second Golden Age just as we are in mystery.

    Back a little on today's topic, this is why y'all need to live near Ro or me, as we discussed a while back. All those old non-electric skills and tools. xoxo

  7. Karna,

    I'll echo my sister Reds and say what a compelling idea for a thriller! I've been fascinated (and not a little worried) about an EMT threat since I read a lengthy article about how easily any hostile group with access to a suitcase nuke and an airplane could put out the lights in the US.

    Unfortunately, I kept mixing up my acronyms, and my family couldn't understand why I wanted to talk about the grave threat to our nation posed by EMPs...

  8. Hi again -- Interesting comments -- the thing is: the possibility of an EMP attack is NOT science's all too real and there are a lot of govt. types really concerned about it. There WAS an EMP commissionn that testified before the House(back in 2008),with recommendations about "hardening" systems, buying back-up components (which could take months/years to get later) - but, alas, with budget cuts, nothing was really done. That's why I'm writing about a thriller (with a romantic twist) that - hopefully - people will enjoy, but also "get" the issue.