A famous thriller writer and a
real former president team up
to write The President Is Missing
by STEVE FISHER
rific. And the other part is, from the beginning, what
I wanted to do is write a novel, write a thriller, where
at the end of it people would go, “This job of the
presidency is a really, really serious, difficult job,
and we really have to pay attention when the debates
come and when we’re electing whoever we’re going
to elect, because this is a tough job.”
CC: How realistic is the scenario in the book?
BC: I believe that the challenges presented in the
book are very much like the ones we’re likely to face
in the next several years, unless we dramatically
increase our capacity to defend against cyberattacks,
or start treating them the way we treated nuclear
and conventional missile problems 40 years ago, and
have verifiable treaties. The presidency is a serious
job, and this is a problem that could be lobbed at us
by a nation-state or a terrorist group, or a nonterror-ist disaffected group of anarchists or whatever.
JP: The threat in this book is very real, it could
happen, and we’re not prepared. This is the scariest
thriller I’ve ever written because it’s real. This is a
credible way for it to happen, every scene.
BC: Anybody who reads this book will no longer
have [the] excuse, “I didn’t pay attention to this
because I didn’t know.” I really hope that we could
dramatically increase the number of people who
understand what the potential consequences of
CC: How did you work together on this?
BC: When I started, I was a little intimidated.
I thought, this guy’s the best storyteller in the
or beginning writers, the best piece of
advice is to write what you know. So it
made complete sense for former President
Bill Clinton’s first work of fiction to be about
a U.S. president. Partnering with an established
thriller writer, literary lion James Patterson, added
incentive. The resulting novel is The President Is
Missing, about a president under political fire who
is dealing with an existential threat to the country
from cyberterrorists. The Connection spoke with
the co-authors by phone.
Costco Connection: How did you come to write a
James Patterson: We have the same lawyer, a friend
of ours—he’s been with the president for quite a long
time, and he had been talking to the president since
he got out of office about [trying] to write a novel at
Bill Clinton: I’m a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers
generally, and Jim in particular. I’d started in the
early ’80s reading mystery writers and related fiction
with a vengeance. I thought of myself as too serious
for such things before 1982, and then, ever since
then, it’s been nonstop. I was over the moon. I was
just grateful he’d do it.
CC: Mr. Patterson, you have had many co-authors.
How did it differ working with an ex-president?
JP: It’s been a great experience. I remember as a kid
seeing Eisenhower and what a thrill it was, and all of
a sudden now I’m working with Bill Clinton. I’m still
a small-town kid at heart, so that part of it was ter-