THE AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS ON EASY MONEY
The idea for this novel began to take shape after I read a newspaper article about the death of the former CIA chief, William Colby. Colby, who had been the CIA chief in Vietnam during the war, and had overseen the Phoenix Program, a controversial operation which allegedly targeted and assassinated Vietnamese communists during the war, died when his rowboat capsized near his home outside of Washington D.C..
The article itself was just a short piece in the Seattle Times, but it sparked my imagination. It seemed like the perfect set-up for a thriller: old spook dies under mysterious circumstances. Colby's wife was even quoted as saying that it seemed odd, that her husband had always been comfortable on the water, and that it was out of habit for him to have gone out in the evening.
As I began to research Colby's life and the Phoenix Program, I knew that I had more than enough material for a novel. In fact, there was so much material, so much that had been written about the Vietnam War, that I was hesitant to take on such a large and complex topic. The more I found out about the war and the people who had fought in it, the more I wanted to portray it and its effects accurately. At the same time, I was becoming acutely aware of the fact that I would never be able to understand the full breadth of the war, or do it justice in my writing.
The idea for Allie Kerry, Easy Money's main character, came out of this dilemma. Writing in Allie's voice gave me the chance to explore Vietnam and its effects from the point of view of someone my age. In my own family, there are people who served in Vietnam, and people who fought against the war, all of whom I respect equally, and in writing Easy Money I wanted to make some attempt at understanding each of them as separate human beings.
The writing of this novel proved to be an amazing process for me. Born in 1971, I had no real memory of the war years. Just as Allie's character evolved over the course of the novel, my understanding of the war and my parents' involvement in it evolved as well. Whether we know it or not, Vietnam still looms large in the psyche of this country, and though I would never be able to understand the full scope of the war, I did come, through the writing of this book, to understand much of what makes it such a powerful force, even today.