So, I’m going to be on primetime TV on Sunday. Nobody is more surprised by this development than I.
Hunted is a successful show in the UK on BBC4. They just aired the second season and are setting up for a third. CBS loved the idea and decided to make their own version here in the US.
It couldn’t be more timely—with the idea of the “surveillance-state” becoming more charged with each passing news cycle, a lot of people have a lot of strong opinions. But what a lot of people don’t have is a front row seat for the process, the inside scoop on how law enforcement and intelligence agencies do their jobs, how the mix of personality, passion, technology and training gel to produce the part-art/part-sciences we call “counterterrorism targeting” and “fugitive recovery.”
This was my sweet spot for years. Most fans of my writing know that I have a background in intelligence and law-enforcement, but most don’t know that the lion’s share of it was spent as an “SSO-T” (Special Skills Officer – Targeter) working CT (Counterterrorism) missions. This is a fancy way of saying that I was a manhunter. A lot of these terrorists were lifelong experts at evading a technologically, numerically and financially superior opponent. They had evaded the Soviets in Afghanistan, or the Chinese in Xinjiang, or the French in North Africa. They knew how to evade surveillance, how to scrub their electronic footprint, how to police their human connections, their “circle of trust,” to bulletproof it against our efforts to compromise their associates and bring about their capture, and yes, sometimes their deaths.
These were hard targets. They did not go down easy. But they did go down, because we were professionals, and we were good at what we did.
I left that work behind when I got my book deal, and while I’m still in law-enforcement, I currently focus on cyber (I did “hands-on” patrol law-enforcement for the Coast Guard until about a year ago). But I was proud of my work, and had little moral compunction about doing it. These were the kinds of guys who would set a woman on fire for learning to read. I wanted them stopped.
What I never imagined, not in a million years, was that my work would have left a lasting impression on my colleagues, or that this impression would have been strong enough that, when CBS went looking for their A-team of hunters, that reputation would recommend me. I never imagined that it would lead to a primetime TV debut.
I have always thought of myself as a fantasy/sci-fi/gaming/comic book nerd. My military and intelligence service was always the thing I did to support my nerd habits, to pay for cons and action figures and DVDs and trade after trade after trade. I’m writing here, because Tor.com’s audience are my fellow travelers: the nerds who like to read, to game, to geek out over the latest Marvel superhero movie, or to erupt into applause when those blue letters recede into the distance with each new Star Wars installment.
No one is more surprised than I that I’m doing this, and no one is more proud of it. Because I love you guys, and I want you to be proud of me. I want you to see a side of my life that has, necessarily, always been in the shadows.
I hope you’ll tune in on Sunday, even if the football game runs long, and I hope you’ll hang in there for the whole season. Because you are my tribe, and if it looks like I’m showing off for you, it’s because I am.
Myke Cole is the author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops series, and an upcoming fantasy adventure series with Tor.com Publishing, starting with The Fractured Girl. As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He’s also a huge history nerd and tabletop wargamer. You can often find him simulating ancient battles in 1/72 scale at the Metropolitan Wargamers Society in Park Slope.