A former senator has traded in policy briefs for thriller novels.
After representing North Dakota in Congress for 30 years – 12 years in the House and 18 in the Senate – Byron Dorgan has now turned his focus to fiction writing, recently releasing his second novel “Gridlock” in July.
But the gridlock in Dorgan’s novel isn’t a reference to the constant logjam in Congress – it’s about an attack on the electrical power grid.
Co-written with veteran thriller author David Hadberg, “Gridlock” tracks a conspiracy led by Iran and Venezuela to introduce a virus into the American electric grid system in order to shut down the U.S.’s electric power, with the conspiracy converging on the former senator’s home state of North Dakota.
Though Dorgan calls “Gridlock” a “beach read” and “entertaining,” he said on “This Week” that the story “relates to some really serious issues in our country.”
“Think on a very hot summer day, if some way we were able to lose electric power across major parts of the country. It would be devastating,” Dorgan told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl. “And if we were to lose power for a week, a month, it could ruin the American economy.”
The fictional plot of “Gridlock” may not be so far-fetched. In 2011, former CIA Director Leon Panetta warned, “The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack that cripples our power systems, our grid.”
Dorgan makes a similar prediction. “The next war… might be digital, might be cyber terror shutting down an electric grid system,” he said. “And so I decided, let’s write a thriller about that.”
Dorgan is not the only senator-turned-novelist. Former Senator Bob Graham and current senators Barbara Mikulski and Barbara Boxer have experimented with fiction writing.
Though drafting legislation, often lengthy and replete with arcane language, may not prepare a lawmaker well for creative writing, some people find parallels between politics and literature.
Dorgan said people tell him, “‘Okay, well, you were in politics. Now you write fiction – same thing. But not quite,” he joked.
Dorgan said unlike writing legislation, in fiction, “You create whatever you wish to create. The circumstances, the time, the place, the characters – it’s kind of fun.”
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