Scarred – Steve Alten

nullTo many, there’s nothing quite as primal and terrifying as the depths of the ocean floor. Novelist Steve Alten knows this all too well, having our world and underwater terror collide repeatedly in his work, particularly in his popular Meg series. In this installment of Scarred, Alten offers up his fright-filled reminiscence as well as a peek at how it’s influenced his upcoming work.

From a film standpoint, “Silence of the Lambs” contained the most disturbing scenes I’ve watched on the big screen, things that I would think about long after the movie. I also remember watching the ABC TV movie “Night Stalker” when I was younger and that one really got to me. Any movie that you imagine yourself going through the scariest scenes makes an impact, and these two did on me. The more grounded in reality, the scarier the effect.

Which is why the scariest work of art or entertainment I have been involved in is THE SHELL GAME, my 8th novel, set to be released in January 2008. At the risk of pimping my own work, the story deals with the end of oil and the next 9/11 event that will lead us into a chemical bombing of Iran. I spent 30 months writing the story, working with military, political, oil, and foreign contacts who risked a lot in revealing certain pieces of info woven into the story, and what they revealed frightened me…and still does. This is NOT a conspiracy theory book, it is a cautionary tale, written under the guise of fiction. What I learned gave me nightmares and my right arm shakes anytime I read certain passages.

The story opens in 2007 when two CIA spooks meet with an American Colonel in military intelligence. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear energy will yield enriched uranium within five years — uranium that can be used to manufacture suitcase nukes. The United States’ military is too drained to invade Iran, and a preemptive strike is out of the question…unless a nuclear detonation (suitcase bomb) were to occur in American city — the enriched uranium traced back to Iran. A U.S. reprisal would strike a death-blow against radical Islam, quell the insurgent violence in Iraq…and yield more oil. Yes, the cost is unthinkable – but if we sit back and do nothing then one day a dozen suitcase bombs could go off in a dozen American cities – bringing with it anarchy and the collapse of Western civilization.

As I have said, to me, the more grounded in reality, the scarier the story.

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