Living in Ecuador those five years provided ample inspiration for my novel, Atahualpa’s Gold. It was a sufficiently long period to gain an understanding of the country’s political life, its peoples, and its numerous exotic cultures. As for the legend of Atahualpa’s gold, it has continued to fascinate adventurers for over five hundred years. The gold was being raised throughout Ecuador to help gain the freedom of Atahualpa, the Chief Inca, from the Spanish soldiers holding him prisoner. But when Atahualpa was unexpectedly put to death, the gold was hidden from the Spanish in an inaccessible region of Ecuador. Explorers have been searching for it ever since.
Building on this legend, I have created a contemporary drama of presidential political life in Quito. My main characters quickly become overwhelmed by events that come to involve not only former Nazis who had fled Europe in the waning months of WW II but also the Israeli Mossad. Nevertheless, they find the opportunity to conduct a romantic relationship even as the world around them seems to be crumbling. I am especially proud of my descriptions of the diverse Ecuadorian landscapes, the city of Quito and the country’s diverse peoples.
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The Penitent Spy
David Lindgren and William Rogers
The Penitent Spy was inspired by a set of notes provided to my co-author by a colleague at the Central Intelligence Agency; both of us, authors, worked at the agency; my colleague for over half a century. The notes were the beginning of what was intended eventually to be a family history; they were never completed. Yet, what was written was so compelling we decided to use them as a basis for a novel. The early chapters describe quite authentically what Jack, not his real name, experienced growing up in Czechoslovakia during the inter-war period.
Ultimately Jack and his family, Jewish, were forced to flee the country as Hitler invaded. Scattered in all directions they were finally reunited in Ecuador near war’s end. Immigrating to the United States Jack would become in time a covert agent for the Agency. In describing his career (now fictionalized) we have attempted to describe how his initial enthusiasm for his work gradually waned as he became disenchanted with Washington’s policies towards South America, in particular those directed at Cuba and Chile. His final undoing occurred when he was placed in charge of an operation in Ecuador, the country that had welcomed his very family. Considered a great success by Agency officials, it would represent the final straw for Jack who viewed the tragic loss of a colleague as entirely his fault. While the novel’s conclusion has not set well with many Agency colleagues they have been extremely positive with the novel’s description of the Agency and its inner workings.
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