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In February 2012, I finished the first draft of my debut novel about an imaginary coup in Mali and American diplomatic efforts to reverse it in the middle of a terrorist attack. My fictional junta in Bamako called itself “The Council for the Restoration of Democracy” and my fictional terrorists were Ansar al-Sahra. Six weeks later, Mali had a real coup when the “National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State” seized power and, a few days later, the northern half of Mali was overtaken by militant groups including a never-heard-of-before Ansar al-Dine. The real Mali is of course still struggling to recover from this trauma, but the good news for the country is that the French military intervened to restore authority and new elections are due July 28. The good news for me is that The Golden Hour will be published summer 2014 by Penguin Random House’s G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Hopefully there are happy endings for both Mali and my thriller.

So several colleagues have asked me, what’s next?  Am I going to press my luck and try to predict something else bold? To those who know me my answer will come as no surprise. I’ve decided to test my powers of prescience on… Zimbabwe. In my day-job, I’ve been urging the Administration to take a harder stand on that country’s sham elections and to be more aggressive (see my full Senate Foreign Relations testimony here). In my new second life as an author, I’m doubling down by writing the sequel to The Golden Hour about… the fall of an aging fictional dictator in Harare.  Watch for it in bookstores summer 2015—and, if I can go 2 for 2, sooner in Zimbabwe.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.