In Hezroni’s The Three Envelopes (St. Martin’s/Dunne, Apr.), an Israeli intelligence agent plots an intricate and subtle revenge on his former handlers.
If the book was not set in Israel, what would be different?
I would say that most fiction regarding intelligence agencies will be similar all over the world. The rule is that there are no rules, and you can do whatever you want as long as you are willing to cope with the consequences if you get caught. And you almost never get caught if you plan well. What differentiates Israel, in my opinion, is less formality in its organizations, and this is reflected in the story with people from the field talking to those in the high ranks, and employees from one division engaging other divisions directly, bypassing regular command and bureaucracy chains that you would probably find in bigger and older countries.
You worked in military intelligence. What are the biggest misconceptions about it?
Hmm, I’ll try to answer this without getting arrested, so no specific examples. I think that for most people involved, it’s just hard work. Kind of like the NASA space program. Everyone knows Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but the thousands of other women and men who enabled that lunar landing were left in the shadows. When an intelligence operation takes place, one or just a few individuals are “stepping on the moon,” while hundreds and sometimes thousands of others are working in the background, 24/7. Spies are regular people. They look like everyone else. They can’t have a custom-designed car that fires missiles, they don’t own a handgun, they are not sipping wine in cocktail parties while waiting for the bad guy to make a move, and the Coke they drink after returning from the supermarket is neither shaken nor stirred. They are ordinary people who have undergone non-ordinary training and are doing a non-ordinary job. Another misconception is technology—in real life, with the computing power available today, I assume the intelligence agencies with their deep pockets and access to endless young talent are far, far beyond what we see in the movies.
How did your studies in economics and business management influence your writing of fiction?
Luckily, they did not. I think that there is nothing like studying economics and business management to kill one’s creativity. I was more influenced by my military service, backpacking trips, and traveling the world as a part of my work in high-tech companies.
Why do you describe yourself on Twitter as a “collector of lost souls”?
Just so that people will wonder what it means. I change it from time to time, so now it is “Brewer of great omelets.”