Join us at the International Spy Museum Store for an in-store book signing of The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen by Thomas Caplan, with an introduction by President Bill Clinton. A classic international spy novel with a fresh, contemporary twist is full of daring adventure that makes for edge-of-your-seat reading. Reminiscent of the novels featuring James Bond and Jason Bourne,The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screenaddresses the very relevant and current threat of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.
THE SPY WHO JUMPED OFF THE SCREEN is in the vein of classic le Carré and Ian Fleming. Did these writers influence your own work? Are there other writers who have inspired you?
I suppose they may have done, as I’ve read and admired them both, especially for the subtlety with which they set their scenes and the intelligence they assume in their readers. I have admired the same quality in Eric Ambler’s work and, of course, in writers whose subject was far from espionage: F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example, John O’Hara, John Cheever, Evelyn Waugh and, for his keen insights into human habits at a high strata of society, Dominic Dunne.
President Bill Clinton wrote an introduction to the book. How did that come about?
President Clinton and I were college roommates, at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and have remained great friends ever since. I sent him an early draft of THE SPY WHO JUMPED OFF THE SCREEN, which he was kind enough to read and comment upon. When I sent him a more refined draft in the early summer of 2010, he asked if I would mind if he took an editor’s pencil to it and tried to increase its momentum in a few places. He describes this in his introduction. I have always believed that a writer cannot help but benefit from the comment of any intelligent third party. In this instance, I had a brilliant and incomparably knowledgeable volunteer. I was thrilled to have him and am to this day grateful, for his suggestions substantially improved my book. I will always remember his comment after he first read the manuscript. “Who told you all this about nuclear weapons?” he asked. “No one,” I replied. “I read and studied a lot and talked to a lot of people.” “Well, what you’ve put in the novel is all perfectly credible,” he continued, “not just the facts but the motivations. Thank God you’re on our side.”
You write expertly about spies, jewelry making, nuclear warfare, Tae Kwon Do, bombs, computer hacking and so much more. How did you research these topics? How did you manage to weave such varied topics together in the book?
I don’t know. Unlike many writers who’ve turned to this genre, I was never a spy. “So you say,” some might answer, but it’s true. My family was in the jewelry business and I worked at our company, Oscar Caplan & Sons, when it was doing business in Maryland, so that was a subject I understood, having been exposed to it since childhood. Nuclear warfare, martial arts, explosive devices and computer hacking are all subjects I researched in the traditional way, by extensive reading and many conversations with experts.
This book deals with nuclear warfare, which is a very real threat in the world in which we live. Is the approach you take in the book to dealing with the threat feasible in the real world?
The threat is all too feasible, I am told by those who know.
Have you always been a fan of spy novels? What other genres do you like?
Yes, even as a school boy, starting, I think with Joseph Conrad. I loved The Secret Agent andhis short story, The Secret Sharer. What boy doesn’t fancy himself James Bond?