I've been blessed with a variety of interesting jobs: a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations (now called the National Clandestine Service); attorney in an international law firm; in-house counsel at the Osaka headquarters of Panasonic; executive in a Silicon Valley technology startup.
But the best job by far has been novel writing, and who'd have guessed that my agency training, my time as a lawyer, my experiences in Japan, and a background in martial arts would form a good background for political thrillers? I get a lot of my material from actual US government craziness (assassinations, torture, indefinite imprisonment, bulk surveillance…you know, everything needed these days to to Keep Us Safe). As I like to say, what’s bad for America is good for thriller writers.
A lot of what I’ve speculated about turns out to be true: the kill list, or "International Terrorist Threat Matrix," I introduced in 2004 in Winner Take All, for example, came to light in 2012 and 2013 as the “Disposition Matrix,” courtesy of the Obama administration. The safety shortcomings of Japanese nuclear reactors I described in 2003 in A Lonely Resurrection were documented following the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe. And the pacemaker hack that kicked off my first book—A Clean Kill in Tokyo, in 2002—turns out to have been a real concern of Dick Cheney’s, as revealed in his memoirs (it also turned up in the second season of Homeland).
The books have won a bunch of awards and made various “Best of” lists, which is nice. If you want to follow what I’m up to beyond the books, Twitter’s a good bet—@barryeisler. And then there’s Facebook; the mailing list you can find on my website; and my blog, The Heart of the Matter.