The Story Behind The Ethiopian Intercept

My first full-length novel, The Ethiopian Intercept, the second book in the Secret Cold War Series, was released on Amazon on June 11th. Kindle and paperback editions are available. The publication of the book was the end of a forty year odyssey.

 Now available at Amazon.com

Now available at Amazon.com

The 1970's was the golden age of overland travel, a time when one could go in relative safety to exotic off-the-beaten-track destinations.  In 1977, I set off from London on a four-month overland journey across Africa. I crossed the Sahara and rain forests of Central Africa on the way to Kenya. . Along the way, I managed to read a few paperback spy and adventure novels. Good English language reading material was hard to find in out of the way places in French speaking Africa. It was a relief to arrive in Kenya with a relative abundance of book shops. 

Following a trek on Mt. Kenya, I settled down in dollar a night hotel on Lamu Island, Kenya.  The village was a typical whitewashed Arab style town with buildings dating from the period when it thrived as a major slave port.  Lamu had become a destination for nature lovers, backpackers, and overland travelers, a miniature cauldron of humanity containing an interesting assortment of Black Kenyans, Arab Kenyans, and a mix of hippies and tourists from every continent

I finished reading my last paperback novel and was left with nothing to read.  In a moment of inspiration, I decided to write an action-adventure story. The Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia was raging up the coast, a proxy war in the  Cold War.  I traded in my calculator for some writing material and settled down to begin the story that became The Ethiopian Intercept

My initial efforts were awful. Over the years, I pulled out the notebook and scribbled a few more paragraphs only to put it aside. After completing a mid-career masters degree, I tried again. My computer and an early word processor made a lot of difference, but I still made no real progress. 

In 2001, I took early retirement and made a few feeble efforts only to be sidelined by a new passion, road bicycle racing. Finally, at the urging of my wife, I got serious and buckled down and decided to actually make an effort to learn how to write. Five novels later, I decided to publish them in chronological order. The Latakia Intercept was the prequel to the series. The Ethiopian Intercept is the first full length novel. 

The Ethiopian Intercept is a work of fiction interwoven into a timeline of real events. The following events actually occurred:  The Ogaden War.  The Ethiopian military did interrupt civilian flights to ferry troops to the front line. The flight of the SR-71 is fictional. No Blackbird aircraft were ever shot down by enemy fire.

Certain actual locations in Kenya and Ethiopia are used fictitiously. The Mombasa-Nairobi train schedule was modified to fit the story. Some of the characters in the story were inspired by people I met along the way. 

The Cochise Project, the Special Signals Research Project, and the description of the operation of the US embassy in Nairobi are products of my imagination. Certain institutions and intelligence agencies are mentioned, but the characters involved, depiction of the agencies' operations or sources/methods of collection/analysis presented should not be construed as factual. Descriptions of Soviet radar signals are based on current open source materials.

Please click below to read an excerpt from the first chapter.