Espionage – the stealing of confidential information to pass on to another entity, country, organisation.
Espionage is a favourite topic amongst crime writers. There is considerable scope for spy stories of all kinds – from the James Bond’s of this world, to a PI following a suspected cheating spouse. Spying no longer relies on an agent doing a drop of plans, or a secret pass-off – quite often spying is done electronically, but the old-school stuff still applies and still thrills.
I chose espionage as the crime in Secrets Within because of an article I read about a civilian engineer selling the plans for the US Navy’s latest aircraft carrier to someone he thought was an Egyptian intelligence officer. The article sparked an idea and Secrets Within is the result.
So why do people spy? There are many reasons – here are seven of the main ones.
Contact is made, an offer accepted, information passed on, and hey-presto, suddenly you can afford a nice holiday in France. Recent statistics show that while this was a leading reason for spying in the past, the number of people doing it purely for financial gain is dropping rapidly.
This is something we see a lot of these days. People will do crazy things in the name of whatever ideology rocks their boat. Fanatics gather and pass on sensitive information ‘for the cause’.
Some people put on a uniform or join a government agency to show their patriotism. Some spy on other governments and organisations and pass important information back to their own leaders.
Sex and Relationships
Some people will do anything to get the, er, affection they crave, including spying on their country. Also, there could be a family connection, or they could be drawn into it by someone close.
If your partner and children were being threatened, would you spy? I know I probably would – mind you I’d also get caught before I even got close. Another technique used to get people to spy is blackmail. It plays on fears and drives the victim to do what is demanded to stop the dreaded revelation of their secrets.
The act of stealing and passing on information can give the person an inflated sense of self-worth. A clerk working in a busy office might see spying as a way to become important, not an insignificant clerk in a large organisation.
Not a common reason, but it has been known to drive a person to spy. The thrill of outwitting the opponent and living a secret life can entice someone who is bored with their life. How many of us played at being a spy when we were kids? It was exciting, right?
Espionage occurs every day, all around the world. Real spies seek out and pass on information for whatever reason motivates them. It’s a dangerous business, and one that will never go away.
What's it about?
It's about words and my life as a writer. There are also tips for those starting their writing journey, with a focus on self-publishing, and encouragement all round.