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Author connects the dots

Former military intelligence specialist draws on current events, experience for action novels

Former military intelligence specialist draws on current events, experience for action novels

March 01, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Current events were already playing out like a military action novel. All writer and retired Air Force Maj. Warren Gray had to do was connect the dots and inject a few characters of his own.

Gray's latest military-action novel, "Death Stalker," was published this year through PublishAmerica.

"I want people to read that book and say, 'Wow, I remember reading about this,'" said Gray, 54, who lives in southern Washington County. "Then, when a fictitious team comes in, it might be hard to separate which part of this is real and which part of this is fiction. I want them to intentionally not be sure where the line is drawn. I want to paint a very, very accurate, detailed, action story."

Gray is on his fourth military action novel and said he has at least six manuscripts ready to go. In his stories, Gray said he likes to weave in facts and current events with a few made-up details. He said it's an attempt to both entertain and paint a "more accurate" portrayal of what it's like to be in the military - more specifically, what it's like for the specially trained, special-operations units who do most of the dirty work.

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Gray draws on his 21 years of service in the military, in which he served as an intelligence specialist.

In fact, for "Death Stalker," Gray concocted a phony mission for a U.S. special-ops team. But many of the characters and events mentioned in the book are real. The book's main villain, terrorist Imad Fayez Mughniyah was a real person.

"The guy was really, really dangerous," Gray said. "He kind of slipped into the shadows and people forgot his name."

Mughniyah, who was in Hezbollah's inner circle, was tied to several acts of terror, including the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Beirut. His methods during his lifetime have been regarded as a mock-up for future terrorists like Osama bin Laden. At one point, the FBI offered a $5 million reward for his capture.

Mughniyah was killed February 2008 by a car bombing in Syria.

"I remember seeing this and thinking, wow, this makes a really good book," Gray said.

In "Death Stalker," a special-ops team is trying to thwart several plots cooked up by Mughniyah, one of which involves an attempt to take out the United Kingdom's Prince Harry, who was scheduled to serve in the British military in Iraq.

Gray said in "Death Stalker," as with his other books, he doesn't attempt to take sides on U.S. foreign policy, though some of the characters in the books do grumble that Clinton let Mughniyah get away. Gray said he's trying to offer context - such as describing what's at stake for the U.S., what motivates terrorists, how world leaders decide whether their loyalties lie with terrorists or with a Western-influenced global culture.

"I do it from the point of view from the bad guys as well as the good guys," Gray said. "I'm trying to show what everybody's thinking, from all sides."

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